Protest obesity

“Public needs to disapprove as much of obesity as it did of tobacco.”

When I read that headline I almost leapt for joy.

Especially because I wasn’t the one who had written it. I mean, I know I have in one form or another dozens of times throughout the years. But to finally see someone else write it was downright thrilling. I felt as if the message I’ve been working so hard to spread for so many years was finally seeping into the cultural zeitgeist in the U.S.

Then I realized the article was written in New Zealand.

Back to reality.

It seems as if the powers that be in New Zealand are concerned because about a third of the children there are now overweight or obese.

In the U.S., we have had this problem since the mid-1990s—at least. So what has happened here in the past 20 years? That’s right … nothing.

In fact, the problem has actually gotten worse since I wrote my first book, Feed Your Kids Well.Yet, there’s been almost no public pressure to change food and health policies to counter the rise in childhood obesity. Unless you count the disastrous attempts to overhaul school lunches and Michelle Obama’s MyPlate campaign, which is brimming over with good intentions—and lots of flaws.

From a pure public health perspective, this is devastating. In the U.S., so many physicians see nothing wrong with a child being overweight. And, in most instances, unless the child is morbidly obese, pediatricians never even say anything to the parent. (Which perhaps isn’t so surprising when you consider 37 percent of doctors in this country are overweight—and 15 percent are obese.)

Yes, the public is finally starting to stand behind healthier eating. And while there’s no question that movement starts with you, and what you put in your shopping cart and on your dinner table, the overarching issue is much bigger.

We need to come together to take on companies like Monsanto. And boycott fast food giants—including those that cloak their sugary, carb-loaded foods in “warm and fuzzy” messages (I’m looking at you, Starbucks).

With enough persistence, we CAN change things. We’ve already made some progress—like requiring calorie counts on menus. And in New York City, there’s a major health campaign with subway ads encouraging people to ditch soda (wish that one could go nationwide).

But honestly, as I have said time and time again, until we treat foods like ice cream sundaes and donuts the way we treat cigarettes—with brutally honest campaigns about the toll they take on your health…and regulations requiring people to pay a hefty tax for them—we are going to get nowhere.

I know it sounds extreme. But I stand behind these measures for a reason. A lot of the people who frequent fast food joints and stockpile their pantries with Kraft Mac ‘n Cheese, have kids. And kids take cues from their parents.

I know, first-hand, the emotional toll being overweight takes on a child. So if I can save other children from experiencing that pain and humiliation, I will. But it would happen so much faster with a populace that truly believes it’s a problem—and a government that supports its citizens’ desperate plea to get healthy and lose weight.

Or we could all just move to New Zealand, where they actually seem to care about the obesity epidemic.

In the meantime, feed your kids—and grandkids—well. I wrote the book on it (literally). You can order a copy here.  But you can get started now with just a few simple steps.

As I talked about yesterday, it’s all about shopping the perimeter of the market. Opt for fruit, veggies, lean protein and healthy fats. Banish the sugar and carbs, and forget those fruit juices that are often marketed as healthy for kids (they’re loaded with sugar).

You’ve got to take things into your own hands, because the government certainly isn’t looking out for you in this regard.

There’s a lot of social activism going on right now in the U.S. for many valid reasons. I just wish people were as outraged about obesity—and as willing to march against it, and all the big corporations that promote it.


“Public needs to disapprove as much of obesity as it did of tobacco,” Food Navigator Asia, 12/4/14