Now full disclosure, I don’t actually HAVE children, so my title is hypothetical and a play on Dr. Mark Hymans’ article Sugar Babies: How to stop the genocide of our children. That being said, this is a really insightful piece commenting on the large increase in childhood obesity – a few quick facts from the article
There has been an over 1,000% increase in type 2 diabetes in children over the last two decades(1). Fifteen years ago 3% of new cases of diabetes in children were type 2 diabetes. Now it is 50%(2). Forty percent of children are now overweight and 2 million are morbidly obese, exceeding the 99th percentile for weight(3).
The plan to help these children is medication, there are kids that can’t swallow pills but will have to start learning how to inject themselves with insulin. What is wrong with this picture? When are we going to wake up and realize that we can’t medicate ourselves out of this situation! As Dallas and Melissa Hartwig states, It Starts with Food and we can start to make some changes to what we are eating and we can literally save the lives of these children who are doomed to a life of diabetes and obesity. Our sugar consumption is literally out of control. The food scientists have added sugar in almost everything, and soda which was once a treat enjoyed sporadically in a small serving size has become ubiquitous in our society.
54 gallons of soda consumed every year by the average American, or the 34 teaspoons of sugar consumed DAILY by the average child in America
A side note for you, take a look at the grams of sugar in your food choices, especially anything that comes in a package. 4 grams of sugar is the equivalent of 1 teaspoon of sugar, so 34 teaspoons is a whopping 136 grams of sugar, A DAY! That is out of control and shows why we are facing this diabesity (obesity + diabetes) crisis. What we need to realize is that WE control this, what WE eat and what WE feed our children is what is causing this epidemic. We need to stop the onslaught of processed foods, stop allowing ketchup to be counted as a vegetable in school lunches and refocus on eating real whole food. Foods that haven’t been modified by food scientists to have us wanting more and more. Regardless of your lifestyle (Paleo, Vegan, Vegetarian, Raw Food, etc) you know that eating things like chips and tasty-cakes are not healthy. We are now seeing this, clearly in overweight youth, and are hearing about children that have liver issues, heart attacks as teenagers, and even are in danger of stroke. This has got to stop and it has to stop now. You can help stop this by not buying what the food companies are trying to sell you about processed foods, changing your diet to eat primarily REAL FOOD, and supporting and encouraging our children (whether they are yours or someone else’s') by setting an example and being healthy in your own food choices.
A new study on type 2 diabetes reveals it’s harder to treat in children than adults, and a two-drug approach may be the most effective. Dr. Mark Hyman, author of “The Blood Sugar Solution,” speaks to the “CBS This Morning” co-hosts about the study.
For me weight hasn’t been a chronic issue, I’ve always been active and maintained a healthy weight. As a child I was small, at one point I was in the exact opposite end of the spectrum quoted below, I was in the 1st percentile for weight where 99 babies out of 100 weighed more than me. I was not raised a Paleo baby; however, my parents did really focus my (and my sister’s) diet as children around real food. We ate what they ate for dinner, put through a baby food grinder until we were able to eat it on our own. I distinctly remember not being allowed to leave the table until I finished my pink meat (medium rare steak) and loving things like broccoli stems and not the tops, and having a balanced meal including a healthy protein, vegetable, starch, and salad every night for dinner.
Join Dr. Mark Hyman’s call to action and ideas for you to incorporate, all of these ideas are great ones that I would consider getting behind.
Here are a few initiatives and ideas that may help shift this frightening tide of poverty and disease:
- Stop government subsidies for junk food. Stop or reduce subsidies of agriculture products that allow for the glut of cheap, high-calorie, nutrient-poor sugars and fats from corn, wheat and soy into the marketplace.
- Tax sugar. We should tax sugar (and maybe even processed junk food with added sugars.) A one cent per ounce tax would raise $15 billion a year, while a 10 cent per ounce tax could raise $150 billion per year(11). This could support national food programs and community projects to fight obesity and diabetes and promote health, and help cover the hundreds of billions of dollars of health care costs from increasing obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. The food industry has blocked initiatives for this tax in 30 states by pouring millions of dollars into lobbying and donations such as the $10 million Coca-Cola gave to a hospital in Philadelphia to swing the vote in the legislature(12).
- End junk food marketing to children. We are one of the only countries that allow this. Studies show that the worse the food, the more the marketing. The average 2 year old can recognize and name junk food from their baby carriage in the supermarket(13).
- Fund community-based initiatives. Support healthy eating with community kitchens, gardens, and cooking classes that teach how to make good food cheaply. Children need life skills on how to care for and feed their bodies. We are raising the first generation of Americans who don’t know how to cook. If implemented, the new health care bill and the new Council on Prevention, Health Promotion, and Public Health provide avenues to support these programs.
- Provide incentives for grocery stores and farmer’s markets in food deserts and all communities.
- Make school lunches healthy by providing only real food and modeling healthy eating. Food can be both fun for you and good for you. Create national standards based on sound 21st century nutritional science and common sense. Most schools have only a microwave or deep fryer, hardly the tools needed to feed our children real, fresh food. Any government-supported programs should have strict guidelines for what foods may be served. There is no room for junk food or sugar calories in schools.
- Change zoning around schools to limit access to fast food and convenience stores. We shouldn’t have to rely on parents blockading junk food stores after school, as a group of parents did in Philadelphia. We shouldn’t make it easy to get bad food!
- The FDA should regulate sugar as a drug, not as a “GRAS” or generally recognized as safe substance. It is a known toxin and is deadly when consumed in large quantities.