There’s a reason my first book was called Feed Your Kids Well. It’s my firm belief that the way we’ll eat for the rest of our lives is embedded in us as infants, toddlers, and young children.
This isn’t to say our palates won’t expand (or contract, for that matter). But I’d bet that, if you really sat down to think about your favorite foods, you’d find that in many cases, they’re the same ones you enjoyed the most — or were rewarded with — as a child.
That’s why I believe kids won’t simply “outgrow” extra weight, and that interventions need to take place at the earliest possible times.
I was shot down for that suggestion in some circles. But it was a science-based conclusion — one that new research continues to support. So I hope that all those naysayers are paying attention…
The obesity arc starts at birth
As part of a recent study, researchers analyzed the BMI trajectory of more than 50,000 children. And let’s just say nothing about their findings surprised me.
For starters, they found that obese teens experienced their most dramatic weight gains between the ages of two and six. After that, it slowed down, but weight continued to climb into adolescence.
Most normal-weight teens, on the other hand, had been normal weight throughout childhood.
But 90 percent of kids who were still obese at age three went on to become overweight or obese teens. And more than half of obese teens were also either overweight or obese by the age of five — even if they were normal weight at infancy.
Here’s the thing though — the rate of teen obesity was also higher among kids who were born large for their gestational age. Nearly half of these kids grew up to be overweight or obese adolescents — compared to an obesity rate of 28.4 percent and 27.2 percent among kids who had been a normal or small size, respectively, at birth.
Ultimately, the risk of adolescent obesity was 1.55 times higher among teens who were big babies at birth.
Obesity prevention starts in preschool
The researchers’ conclusion cuts straight to the point: “The finding that the risk of adolescent obesity manifests by 3 to 5 years of age suggests that nutritional counseling should be considered when exaggerated weight gain persists or emerges after 2 years of age.”
I could have told them that. I have real first-hand experience as an overweight child and teen. But while I may be more aware of it — as it happened to me, and I battle with those demons on a daily basis — we can all see the childhood obesity crisis unfolding in front of our very eyes every day.
Nutritional counseling is important at any age. But as this study shows, the early childhood years are the most important where the development of long-term obesity is concerned.
Like I’m always saying, she isn’t just “big boned” — and he won’t just “grow out of it.”
That’s why I felt that writing my first book was so necessary. The advice it contains is as relevant today as it was two decades ago. Arguably even more so…
But unfortunately, no one listened to me back then. And now we’re seeing young people suffering from very serious, very adult health complications — including insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes, hyperlipidemia, hypertension, and fatty liver disease.
Is this the legacy you want to leave your children?
No? Well then don’t let them eat off of the kids’ menu. Fried foods aren’t for kids. A Mediterranean-style diet chock full of nutritious fruits, vegetables, proteins, and healthy fats is optimal for everyone — no matter your age.
In fact, my latest book, The A-List Diet, is based on the Mediterranean diet — removing the common barriers to weight loss, and giving you and your children all you need for weight-loss success and optimal long-term health. Click here to learn more, or order a copy today!