Childhood Obesity: The Unintended Affliction of Misplaced Affection

Eating crappy food isn’t a reward. It’s a punishment” Drew Carey .

It is a nice summer day.  The sun is high and the sky is blue.  There is a long line of kids and their parents at the local ice cream shop.  Patrons wait patiently to get their favorite flavor of ice cream cones or cups.  When done, they wash it down with a cold refreshing soda.   Voila, a perfect treat for a perfect day.  Or is it really?  The average cup of vanilla ice cream has about 28 grams of sugar and a 16 oz bottle of soda about 52 grams of sugar.  Do you know that the American Heart Association recommends that children between 2 and 18 years should limit their sugar consumption to less than 24 grams a day?

What about this.  After a competitive Pop-Warner football game, the winners are treated to pizza while the losing team is consoled with cookies and ice cream.  Having grown up in a village in Nigeria where such overt displays of affection for children was unheard of, I watched these event with utter amazement.  I often wondered how lucky these kids are to be so loved and cared for that they are celebrated no matter how well they do.

As I study the emerging epidemic of childhood obesity, it has become painfully obvious that this well intended show of affection is producing a very serious unintended affliction – Childhood Obesity.  The so call treats are actually threatening the lives of a whole generation of young Americans.

“Because of the increasing rates of obesity, unhealthy eating habits and physical inactivity, we may see the first generation that will be less healthy and have a shorter life expectancy than their parents.”

—  Richard Carmona (former Surgeon General).

According to government statistics;

  • About 1 in3 American kid is either overweight or obese.
  • The prevalence of childhood obesity more than tripled just between 1971 to 2011.
  • 91 percent of American children have poor diets and less than half get the recommended 60 minutes of daily physical activity.
  • Almost two-thirds of American youth consume a sugary beverage on any given day.
  • Roughly four out of 10 American high school students (43 percent) spend three or more hours a day using a computer, playing video games, or on social media.

We are now seeing serious health problems in children that used to be seen only in adults.

Problems like type two diabetes and high cholesterol.  It is also well know that obese children tend to have low self-esteem, negative body image, depression and lack self-confidence.

These are very serious consequences with transgenerational impact.  I mean these kids are going to grow up one day to be the parents of our grand kids.  What sort of health legacy are we going to hand down to them?

The solution to this problem must rightly start with the adults in our families.  There must be a complete shift in mindset about what constitutes healthy nutrition and treats.  This is the only way to ensure that well meaning affection we show to our kids with “treats” does not become a tragic transgenerational affliction of unhealthful lives.

Please join us in our walk to end obesity on Sunday September 9, 2018 at Onondaga Lake Park in Liverpool NY.  Enjoy our wellness festivities with live music, karaoke, games for the kids, raffles, a sugar jeopardy and a chance to win autographed copy of my groundbreaking book The FIX diet.

We need your support to succeed.


Ife Ojugbeli, M.D.