Should we as doctors be healthy role models to our youth? If we aren’t should we lose our jobs? Recently a raft of rather rotund doctors in Austria’s state-run clinics with a BMI (body mass index) over 25 received letters telling them to shape up or they’re fired! Fired for being fat. Fired for being a roll model.
One in three kids in North America are overweight while a Big Whoppering nine million kids are classified as obese. Pediatric obesity is the greatest health threat facing our children. Some, unfortunately, are primed to be large as a genetic battle between hormones like ghrelin and leptin is waged in the internal milieu. But many others, the corpulent computer-keystered Kripsy Kremed kids, are also developing a host of co-morbid conditions associated with obesity that up until now have never been heard of in children. A life sentence of misery secondary to Type Two diabetes is showing up in younger and younger kids. More recently NASH (non alcoholic hepatitis), previously a purview of plump, portly, or puffy parents is now showing up in obese youth and damaging their livers. 12-year old livers are looking like they’ve been abused in the Navy (motto: “We Sail Wet”) for 20 years.
A few tips on how to prevent your young ‘un from becoming a big ‘un.
1. Best thing to do for an obese child is to give him a prescription for a new set of parents. Studies indicate that many parents with obese kids, especially overweight boys see their child through rose-colored glasses and don’t see the “big” problem. “Porky’s not obese, doctor, he’s just big boned. Now you’ve upset him. There there now, you’re mommy’s little Piglet, have another Oreo and don’t listen to that Austrian.”
2. “Breast is best.” Another Navy motto but also refers to the fact that the GUTS (Growing Up Today Study) found that children who had been breast fed were 34% less likely to become obese regardless of how chubby or diabetic their mother is. Of course if your big baby is twenty seven years old then perhaps he’s just best left fat.
3. Role model v. roll model. “OK kid go out and do some push ups or something just leave me alone and keep away from my remote!” Kids born to overweight moms are 15 times likely to be obese by age six and in fact start to pack on the Gerbers by age three.
4. Remove words like “fat”, “exercise” and “diet” and replace with more fun euphemisms like “play”, “great nutrition” and “kumquat” (Kumquat has nothing to do with this article I just think it’s a fun word.)
5. Don’t eat in front of TV, in fact get rid of your TV. Go ahead. In fact, if you have a 52inch LCD then as a caring medical professional it would be in your best interest for me to remove that from your home. Trust me. I am only thinking of you, your children and the playoffs.
6. Eat as a family.
7. Eat like the French, Slowly all day lunches with excessive amount of wine. I believe this works because the diners pass out and don’t wake up in time to eat supper. Make the meal a marathon not a sprint. Try to stretch out the meal or you’ll stretch out your Lulu Lemons.
8. Start meals with salad or soup. Stuff ‘em early, stuff em hard! (They won’t be able to wolf down dessert.)
9. Fridge full of healthy snacks like carrot sticks , celery sticks and Snickers sticks. Obesity does not come from eating the wrong things, it also comes from not eating the right things. Undernourished kids gain weight as they get hungry and end up eating cardboard-like products.
10. No junk food in the house. Changing eating habits as a child is easier than treating obesity as an adult. I might add that nowhere on the Snickers wrapper does it actually refer to itself as a junk food per se.
11. Be active in promoting active lifestyle options for kids in your community.
12. Let them get their sleep. Leptin, a good guy hormone is released during sleep.
13. Move to Vienna.