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Fat Kids: Are Parents to Blame?

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When a parent continues to feed their fat kid junk, shouldn't they be prosecuted?

fat kid and mom

Guest blogger, Gina: If a child who cannot swim asks his mother if he can jump in a pool, and she says yes, is it the pool's fault for being there or the mother's fault for her response? What is the difference between this and if a mother of an obese child continues to feed her Twinkies?

Obese children did not get to their weight on their own. No child gets fat by eating vegetables, oatmeal and whole grain sandwiches. It's impossible. Obese children obviously have junk food available to them or they wouldn't be in this condition.

Because it's so difficult to see a child struggle with their weight, it seems that no one wants to say out loud that these kids are eating fast food, drinking soda and snacking on Hostess cakes. And it's not like a fat six-year-old is finding this stuff on his or her own. Someone is making it available -- and it isn't the wind.

We keep hearing that fast food companies' greediness and cereal companies who market to children are to blame for the growing obesity epidemic of children in the United States. How about blaming the parents who refuse to say "no" to their kid?! When I was a kid, there was a McDonald's down the street from me and I memorized the "Silly Rabbit, Trix are for kids" slogan. However, still to this day, I have never tried Trix cereal and I can count on one hand the times I ate McDonald's before I was 16.

According to the Mayo Clinic, "obese children can develop serious health problems, such as diabetes and heart disease, often carrying these conditions into an obese adulthood." They also can suffer from low self-esteem, bullying, behavior and learning problems and depression.

By feeding their children unhealthy foods and not figuring out a way for them to exercise, these parents are responsible for killing their kids, right?

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38 comments so far | Post a comment now
Anonymous October 23, 2008, 4:13 PM

Yes. They should be held responsible.

Anonymous October 23, 2008, 4:52 PM

We can blame the kids, but let’s not increase government oversight…

Jackie Guerra October 23, 2008, 7:30 PM

I was a chubby kid, a fat teen and an obese young woman. At the age of 8 when my friends weighed anywhere between 50-70 lbs, I weighed 110 lbs. I, like other fat kids didn’t “choose” to be fat.
Point #1: an 8-year old is not grocery shopping or making decisions about what/when to eat for themselves.
I was an active child. I played sports; soccer, gymnastics, swam almost daily and danced from age 4-18. Contrary to the popular misconception and false impression of fat kids, I did not sit around playing video games or watching tv.
Point #2: Both of my parents are the only thin people in their families. My mother is the eldest of 6 and my father is the middle child of 7. All of their siblings are obese but they are not. Both my brother and I are. We ate breakfast every morning as a family, my mother packed our lunches everyday and we ate dinner every night as a family. My parents did EVERYTHING THEY KNEW HOW TO DO AND WERE CONVINCED WAS RIGHT by the massive and well-funded diet industry media machine. My mom put me on my first diet at 8 years old. I was on a diet for 25 years. By the time I was 34 I weighed 320 lbs.
Point #3: We now know that in fact there is an obesity gene. Some people are predisposed to obesity. Certainly there are behaviors that contribute to whether or not obesity is triggered but it is a disease that you are either predisposed to,or not. My brother and I carry the gene along with millions of others. There can be NO DENYING that obesity is also directly linked to your economic status. You can buy a lot from the $1.00 menu at any fast food restaurant and feed a family of 4 for less than $10.00 but to buy fish and vegetables to steam for a family of 4 will cost a minimum of $20.00. For many Americans it is a question of economics.
So who is responsible? In my opinion, we all are! We are all responsible for allowing fast-food chains and corporations to market calorie filled/nutritionally void foods to our kids. Remember, they only profit if we spend our money there so we all need to STOP SPENDING OUR HARD EARNED MONEY TO GET FAT AND UNHEALTHY! In addition I think that it is criminal the way that large profitable companies continue to load their product with the very things that they/we KNOW is killing us; high fructose corn syrup, refined sugar, hormones, etc. It infuriates me to make my way through our nation’s airports only to see fast-food after fattening after disgusting and all ridiculously overpriced foods that are making every one of us unhealthy not to mention, broke. And we allow it because our tax money subsidizes the businesses in our airports. Also why do we allow such unhealthy food to continue to be served in our public schools? That’s OUR TAX MONEY paying for it. Ever wonder why it is as gross today as it was when you were in elementary school? Because for the most part the same companies have had the same contracts for generations. They are also by the way, the same companies hired by our federal and state governments to feed our inmates. It is a business and the last thing they are concerned with is the health of your child. But they do get paid by your tax dollars which are distributed by people that you elect. So we vote on election day and with our dollars. Let’s get heard! And lastly we sit silently as insurance companies charge us way too much money for way too little care. Why should anyone pay a $500/month premium waiting to get sick? Why shouldn’t that premium entitle you to reduced gym memberships, nutritional counseling, private training to get started? Every 47 minutes someone DIES from an obesity related complication. We call these complications many things; type II diabetes, hypertension, high blood pressure, gout, joint problems, etc., but they all stem from the same thing; obesity. The things that WE KNOW will prevent many diseases arent’ covered by most insurance companies and that, in my opinion is criminal!
Don’t blame kids. Stop persecuting parents. Let’s work together to make life healthier, happier and more exciting for everyone!

geen October 23, 2008, 8:23 PM

Although I agree somewhat with Jackie, parents CAN do something. Don’t buy junk food. Oh, and if you have cable maybe you can get rid of it. This will do two things: 1- Your kids will not have much to watch 2- The money you save can help you buy healthy foods for your family. After all, whats more important, Cartoon Network or your kids health?

Theresa October 23, 2008, 10:19 PM

Jackie, I have a friend like you. She is a large woman, and even if she lost all of the FAT off of her body, she would still be large. She’s still funny, smart, and gorgeous. That being said, she still gives her son things like sugary juice, macaroni and cheese, hot dogs, and pizza.

He’s 2, and weighs 50 pounds. Other two year olds can eat all that crap and be fine, but he can’t. Obesity is a problem, and she, like all parents of chubsters, needs to be extra vigilant.

Been there October 23, 2008, 11:52 PM

Jackie - I agree with you on the money - healthy diets are for rich people. It’s not cheap to buy fresh meat, vegetables and fruit. In particular, carbohydrate-rich foods, which, in excess make you fatter, and many unhealthy processed foods are much cheaper.

Morgan Girald October 24, 2008, 2:40 AM

It isn’t expensive to buy vegetables and pasta. It is also cheap to buy chicken and rice. The bottom line is that it’s easier to buy the cheap food. Parents of heavy children may be lazy.

Carrie October 24, 2008, 3:07 AM

You can absolutely get fat on vegetables, oatmeal and whole grain sandwiches. I grew up eating very healthy, my mother wouldn’t let us have anything “bad”, and I promise if you binge, even on the good stuff, you’ll get fat. Restricting kids isn’t necessarily the answer.

ashley October 24, 2008, 7:53 AM

I absolutely agree with the story. It makes me so mad when these moms take their kids on shows like Maury and they are like 3 years old and weighs 75 pounds and they cry “Oh, it’s not my fault!” But then they show that the kid eats a half a pizza, 5 burgers, and a plate of fries for lunch. Duh!!! A 3 year old cant’ cook for themselves. My son is 6 and he knows what is healthy and what is not. I do let him eat some junk food, but to a minimum. For snack at night he eats a bowl of cereal, not sugary cereal, like Kix or cheerios. He doesn’t get to eat a huge bowl of ice cream covered in chocolate syrup except on rare occasions, and he is ok with that. The parents are in control of what their kids eat. They have to learn to say no!!

Kara  October 24, 2008, 8:52 AM

wow is this a hot button issue! And it certainly brings out the judgemental side in so many people. It is amazing how “fat people” can be so insulting to others, like their very fat actually offends you.
All parents, not just the parents of overweight children, need to be more careful about their kids diet. Healthy eating becomes a lifelong habit but you must start it young. They are building their bodies now and how healthy is an organ that was built using cupcakes and curly fries? There is nothing wrong with a treat in moderation though! But some people are predisposed to be overweight and that is a huge dialy and often lifelong struggle made worse by the fact that other people treat them badly for it, like they get fat on purpose! Additionally, it is harder to eat healthy on a budget Morgan and your statement about those parents being lazy is just ugly. Fruits and vegetables, fresh ingredients, even the healthier prepackaged dinners and things are more expensive. Go to any store and see the difference between a regular can of soup and a can of reduced fat or light or “healthier” soup. The difference is terrible and across the board. But to answer the question from the post: all parents are responsible for the food their kids are served at home and are therefore responsible for the consequences - good or bad - stemming from those foods.

Anonymous October 24, 2008, 1:13 PM

Those fat kids on Maury are pretty sad.

Becca October 24, 2008, 2:12 PM

First off not all children who are obese eat lots of junk food! I don’t think parents should be blamed for obese children! That being because there are many factors in to why a child might be over weight! From genetics to what they eat! Parents can control what they eat but what about when the child isn’t with the parent! The parents have no control over that situation! As far as exercise you can only make a child exercise to his/her ability and all the exercise in the world sometimes doesn’t make certain people skinny! My hubby for example he works hard and works out a lot! However he is still a big man and doesn’t eat tones of junk food and fast food! He is just genetically preset to be a bigger person! I agree there are cases of parents who do let their kids eat what ever and don’t do anything to they and make their kids healthier but that is an issue that hard to distinguish! What scale or policy do you use to decide a parent isn’t helping their child? How do you make it fair as to not falsely judge parents who are doing their best? Not easily and I think people should think twice about regulations on weight control for kids! Its a form of discrimination and should not happen!

Anna October 24, 2008, 3:49 PM

what they should do is do a surprise visit at the parents home and do a check on what foods are kept in the house. If there are 60 bags of potato chips and 12 dozen little debbie snacks then that is a clear indication that parents are not doing a good job teaching their children to eat right. Not all obese kids are obese because their parents supply the house with junk food- however most do.

Anonymous October 24, 2008, 4:03 PM

Hey, I’ve got an idea: Why doesn’t everybody just mind their own business?

Jackie Guerra October 24, 2008, 6:23 PM

Everyone is right. This is a hot-button issue because it is an epidemic and we are all watching kids get fatter and fatter and the country becoming less healthy and less productive and the blame game is sooooo much easier than really looking at the root cause(s) and making significant changes and sacrifices to change things. Change is difficult but, not impossible. I am someone who was morbidly obese for the first 34 years of her life and as such, I feel that I have a life experience and if I might say humbly, an insight that may helpful to many. In 2004 after 26 years of being on diets and being blamed for being obese I began an intense “diet” of research only to realize that there are big, well-funded reasons that so many of our kids/fellow citizens are obese. I decided after much research to opt for WLS. I had gastric bypass surgery in April, 2004 after a lifetime of pain, obesity, being the butt of comedian’s jokes, the focus of public disdain and personal disgust. I have lost 170 lbs and kept it off for 4 years. Every 47 minutes someone dies from an obesity related complication and we as taxpayers spend over 147 million dollars/year on obesity. This energy and money and resources could be SO much better spent if we truly took the time to understand this disease and prescribed the correct cure for it. Blame is not a cure. I humbly submit myself as a foot soldier in the war against obesity and self-hatred. If I can be of any service to you or your family please don’t hesitate to call on me. My website address is Good luck to all of you and remember that YOU are the ONLY YOU the world will ever know. And that goes for your fat kid/neighbor/friend. So let’ all work together to make life healthier, happier and more exciting for EVERYONE!

Kara October 24, 2008, 10:43 PM

Gee ANNA, I thought we lived in AMERICA. How would you like it if someone did something like this to you for one reason or another. I’m pretty sure, given the condition of the human beast, that there is someone out there that doesn’t approve of something you do and can list lots of reasons they and others will think are valid. Do you think you would enjoy their scrutiny or their self appointed right to go through your life, your drawers, your cupboards, your car … ???

Kristina October 25, 2008, 1:42 PM

Up until recently, I too have shook my head when seeing an overweight child eating junk and blamed the parents. It might be the parent’s fault in most cases but it is wrong of us to judge without knowing all the facts. I recently met a mother of an overweight girl in my daughter’s class. She was born severely hypoglycemic and despite the use of medication has to continuously be monitored and fed a diet of high sugar and starch. If her levels drop she could have brain damage or fall into a coma and die. Her mother in constantly feeding her foods that save her life but bring the wrath of other people who do not know the circumstances. She told me some of the mean comments she has endured and is concerned how her daughter will be treated now she is in school. Just want everyone to think twice before making comments to parents with overweight children.

momma812 October 27, 2008, 10:48 AM

I do think that we can’t just “assume” we know anything about anyone. I do know plenty of “thin” children who pretty much live on a steady diet of coke, chicken nuggets and frozen pizza. It’s not fair to hold those parents in higher regard. Looks are deceiving. Growing up, I was also “chubby” in spite of being very active. I grew up in the early 80’s - no video games for us. Bike rides, hiking, softball, basketball, etc. My parents also never, ever gave us fast food and we weren’t allowed soda. Yet, I was a little “heavier” as a kid. To this day I struggle with weight. I eat healthier than probably every thin friend I have. Plenty of whole grains, lean proteins, fruits and vegetables are the main stay of every meal, I aim to exercise 4 times a week (usually get in 3) and while my weight is “higher” I’m healthier than most of my “skinny” friends.

Point is, don’t always look at the outside, it doesn’t always tell the story. Wether your child tends to be heavier or thinner, every parent needs to strive towards giving their entire family a healthier diet, cutting out garbage and getting in more activity.

Judging someone is useless — reaching out to help or simply trying better to understand is beneficial to us all.

jesse faivre October 27, 2008, 9:54 PM

how do we have to win for the contest.

Vashti October 28, 2008, 5:11 PM

I’m going to write as an exception to this.. My parents were health nuts. they had me in sports years round. we ate lots and lots of veggies. We were not aloud to eat candy, white bread, sugar or sugar cereals. We were not aloud to eat dinner unless we ate our salad. Out dinner was equally loaded with produce.
I was a fat baby… and I was fat as a toddler and a child… My parents WERE NOT responsible.. They taught us how to exercise and eat healthy. We also had our own garden… HOWEVER, What I am seeing today, it appalls me… Kids do not have greens on there plates, they eat too much, and they do not exercise… I was the only fat kid in my class involved in physical activity.
I think they need more sports programs just for overweight children… it’s difficult to be the kid no one wants on there team…
but I believe parents are feeding their kids into an early grave.. It’s very sad.. It needs to change… Other wise these kids will get heart disease, cancer, and diabetes. They will live miserably and die young…


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