How Parents Can Identify Food Issues And Combat Childhood Obesity


How would you, as a parent, squash potential obesity in your child? That’s a big order since every parent is different and every child is unique. Every circumstance and household is different. These statements are common sense and frustrating to hear when you’re searching for quick answers, but we really have to look at this closely to find something plausible to gift to excited future parents. We can’t lump every parent into one pile and say, “Do it this way or feed them this or that, and I guarantee you success.” Impossible. Many have tried to find the “magic pill,” yet we still see families with obese children more as the norm than not.

However, there is ONE thing that all parents have in common—the ability to pay attention. Using that powerful tool will definitely set you on your own personal path to success. It has to start on day one, not when you begin noticing your child’s body is double the size of those in his/her first-grade class, or even worse when their depression or lack of self-worth is firmly entrenched inside a monosyllabic teenage body. You’ll be hard pressed to “talk” them out of losing the weight. That’s when you’ll probably have to seek expensive professional help.

Nope, you have to set a plan the second you bring them home from the hospital. I think I summed it up pretty well in my book, I’m In Here Somewhere, on how important us fallible adults are to the future of a child.

Whether it’s a sibling handing you a new niece or nephew or holding one of your very own creations, you cradle them close, protecting their little wobbly necks, counting fingers and toes, making sure you don’t accidently knock their head into a doorframe, and simply marveling at their very existence—even envy them a tad, if you think about it. They get to start out fresh, unblemished by life and bent by worry. The road leading to their future is smooth and without potholes. Anything’s possible.
Imagine throwing your child into early diabetes. Find out quickly if your child suffers from a thyroid or metabolism problem and how you can teach them skills to avoid gaining, or at least maintaining, the weight as they age.
If you can’t seem to bring yourself to make the effort toward your child’s future, then look deep inside and analyze your own demons. What keeps you from ensuring that the life you created has a fighting chance to battle an already difficult world? Why would you give them life only to set them up for failure? I know I’m being harsh, but I’m ripping off masks here, folks. A child’s story is starting to play out the minute they land in the doctor’s hands. Don’t wait to watch it when they’re set in their ways and much more stubborn.

No doubt, paying attention is hard. Life is tossing one ridiculous thing after another at you. We all share that same craziness. Watching what we flip into the grocery cart, taking time to research how the body metabolizes fat, finding and cooking healthy dishes, training a willful child to enjoy their steamed vegetables, or having adamant conversations with their doctors and schools isn’t as fun as staring at the TV after a hard day at work…or as easy as just handing over the candy to get them to stop screaming.

But imagine how heart-wrenchingly difficult it will be to watch your child endure health issues, teasing, and steadily losing their sense of self-worth day by day. Denying or ignoring a problem doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. I did that for years and look where it got me—701 pounds and a hairs-breadth away from death.

We are the adults. They are helpless and dependent upon our wise choices and decisions that impact their future. They trust implicitly, so we must in turn, earn it. We are the ones that bring the food and place in front of our children. We, as parents, have the power to ensure the daycare or school is providing a nutritious meal, and we are the ones that have to suck it up and tell the child that they can only have the special treats for special occasions—not as a meal replacement. Explain it to them. They’re not stupid. We teach them to walk, talk, and drive. Now teach them to eat right and exercise as if this is just as normal as breathing. We have to guide them toward a healthy life path, not just hope they stumble upon it by accident…or fear.

So, yes. Pay attention. It’s that simple.


--Chad’s article was written with the assistance of Celeste Prater, author of Chad Dean’s memoir, I’m in Here Somewhere: Memoir of a Food Addict.