Friday, May 13, 2011

Leave Tony Alone!

All this talk about childhood obesity has me wondering what has really changed--the food or our children's lifestyles? Back in the 1950's when Kellogg's Frosted Flakes debuted as Sugar Frosted Flakes, childhood obesity wasn't a problem.

According to a BBC news report done in 1999, children in the 1950s--despite the food shortages of the post-war era--had more nutritious meals than their 1990s counterparts. Granted, these are British children and the talk I'm hearing about childhood obesity is being generated in the United States; however, this fact is what stands out to me: "Although the fat and overall calorie intake of the 1950s child was higher, generally children were more active than their 1990s counterparts." (Professor Michael Wadsworth, Director of the Medical Research Council National Survey of Health and Development)

I'll take that a step further and make the guess that children's stress levels have also risen significantly since the 1950s. Everything I've read about stress indicates that stress releases cortisol, a hormone that causes increased abdominal fat. Kids used to only have to worry about SATs or other college entrance examinations. Now they have to worry about SOLs on an annual basis. They're asked in elementary school to name their future career goals. In addition to schoolwork, they worry about their parents' financial or marital situations, peer pressure, and reports they see splashed across the news.

Rather than forcing cereal and junk food manufacturers to stop marketing to our children, shouldn't we be more concerned about what's going on around them? In Matthew 17-20, Jesus says: "Do you not understand that everything that goes into the mouth passes through the stomach, and is eliminated? But the things that proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and those defile the man. For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, slanders. These are the things which defile the man; but to eat with unwashed hands does not defile the man." (New American Standard Bible)

My advice, for what it's worth, is this: Turn the news off when your children are in the room. Talk about positive things. Don't fight in front of your children. Don't let them see you stressing out over money. And get them out from in front of the television or computer monitor regularly. Eliminate enough extra-curricular activities that you can gather your family around the dinner table two to three times a week. Exercise as a family--Wii dance games are a hoot!

And when the groceries run out, make them wait until the next grocery day to get "the good stuff." I'm not saying to let your family go hungry. But if you buy a box of Frosted Flakes one day and they're gone the next, don't rush out to buy another box. When I was growing up, grocery night was Friday night. I LOVED Friday nights. And do you know what we always had for dinner that night? Sandwiches! But the bread was fresh and we got stuff like potato chips and candy that we hadn't had since the previous week.

I'll admit that these days I'm heavier than I was when I was younger. That's because my job is sedentary, I have more stress, I exercise less, and I've forgotten the concept of "delayed gratification." That's how I know what's wrong with our many of our nation's children--I've got the same issues. And it ain't Tony's fault. It's mine.


Donis Casey said...

My favorite cereal when I was a little girl in the '50s was Sugar Crisp. Do they even make Sugar Crisp any more?

Marian Allen said...

You're right on so many counts, Gayle! My kids told me that their friends thought we were "weird" because we all sat down together to dinner every day and all ate the same thing. Their friends' families ate what they wanted when they wanted.

I also went to the grocery once a week, which their Lifestyle teacher thought was bizarre or, at least, extremely unusual.

Over-scheduling kids' time and, at the other end of the continuum, letting kids sink all their time into tv or video games can't be good for them.

Come on, folks! Let's be weird! Let's eat nutritious meals together, talk about scary things in reassuring ways, behave like adults in front of the kids and take walks together and stuff! It's pretty darned crazy, but it just might work!

Marian Allen
Fantasies, mysteries, comedies, recipes

Gayle said...

I remember Sugar Crisp. It had that Sugar Bear on the box, right? I was really big on the characters! We didn't have as many cartoons as kids do now. Saturday mornings were the only time we saw them. And, Marian, I agree--weird is good. :)

hann said...

Abdominal exercise is very hard on the body and can somewhat be unnatural. Even though men have more testosterone, that doesn't mean us women are at a disadvantage. From my experience, I've found that we function under the same biological rules and we can both use them to our advantage to put on muscle.

Lauris said...

I can remember these Crisps too, now a lot kids eating them in morning, I think this food is bad, these kids should make some ab exercises for men , or something else, parents should change their eating style.