Honey, We’re Killing the Kids!

April 21, 2011

in Food News

By Jin Ju Wilder

Honey, We’re Killing the Kids is a show the U.S. adapted from a BBC show and it airs on TLC.  I have seen it a couple of times and felt the premise was a worthwhile one as it takes a look at the parents’ responsibility to model and teach their children how to live a healthy life by exercising regularly and eating the right foods in moderation.  It scares the parents into correcting behaviors and habits by showing computer generated age progression photos of their children.  The photos show how their precious child will look as a 40-year-old if they don’t change their lifestyle. The photos are a bit over the top with the 40-year-old looking very unhappy, sometimes missing teeth, balding, and, obviously, obese.

While I definitely feel the photos are exaggerated, it turns out that we really are killing our kids.  Well, if not killing, then definitely shortening their lifespans.  As a parent of two children, one in elementary school and one in middle school, one of the most alarming things I have heard related to the obesity epidemic in the U.S. is that, for the first time in U.S. history, the current generation of kids may have shorter life expectancies than their parents.  I first heard this when The New England Journal of Medicine released their report in March 2005 and we have done very little to change that predicted outcome in the past six years.  The obesity rate in American children has tripled over the past 30 years.

The reports said that if the rise in childhood obesity is not prevented, it could shorten this generation of kids’ lifespans by as much as five years.  The prevalence and severity of childhood obesity was so great that the related diseases and complications, such as Type 2 diabetes (a disease formerly known as Adult Onset Diabetes – before it started affecting children at such an alarming rate), heart disease, kidney failure, and cancer will affect people at younger ages than in the past.  At the time, many other experts came forward to say that the report may be a bit “alarmist” or “excessively gloomy”.  The attitude has changed since, increasingly, studies show that young people are experiencing obesity-related health issues at a higher rate than in the past.

However, you will recall that, in the summer of 2008, our nation’s pediatricians recommended regular cholesterol screening for children as young as the age of 2 and prescribing statins for children at risk for heart problems as young as the age of 8.  More recently, in April 2010, Mission: Readiness, a D.C.-based organization of retired generals, admirals, and civilian military leaders, issued a report, “Too Fat to Fight,” to Congress.  The group said that more than 27 percent of Americans between the ages of 17 and 24, more than 9 million young men and women, are too overweight to join the military.  The group was calling on Congress to do something about it: to get junk food out of schools and to provide more-effective programs for kids to lose weight.  Childhood obesity is now understood to be a national crisis.

First Lady Michelle Obama has made this her clarion call.  She is imploring us to take action to save our children’s lives. At the Let’s Move! launch on February 9, 2010 Mrs. Obama said, “The physical and emotional health of an entire generation and the economic health and security of our nation is at stake.”

The First Lady’s Let’s Move initiative is described on the Let’s Move website as: “a comprehensive initiative, launched by the First Lady, dedicated to solving the challenge of childhood obesity within a generation, so that children born today will grow up healthier and able to pursue their dreams. Combining comprehensive strategies with common sense, Let’s Move! is about putting children on the path to a healthy future during their earliest months and years. Giving parents helpful information and fostering environments that support healthy choices. Providing healthier foods in our schools. Ensuring that every family has access to healthy, affordable food. And, helping kids become more physically active.

Everyone has a role to play in reducing childhood obesity, including parents, elected officials from all levels of government, schools, health care professionals, faith-based and community-based organizations, and private sector companies. Your involvement is key to ensuring a healthy future for our children.”

Saving our kids, or at least increasing their life spans, doesn’t have to be overwhelming.  A little more exercise and a little more thought to what they’re eating can make a big difference.  Try adding one more fruit or vegetable to their meals every day and taking a short walk around the block.  Let’s reverse the trend so we don’t need shows like Honey, We’re Killing the Kids.  That’s right, this isn’t just about our kids, it’s about getting better television, too, and isn’t that worth a little change?  Tell us what you are doing to make a little change that can make a big difference.

Comments on this entry are closed.

Previous post:

Next post: