Mason has never had a soda, and I’m hoping to keep it that way for a long time. It’s not that I’m worried he’ll become obese if he drinks it–he’s still a tall string bean of a kid, even though he has a huge appetite–it’s a health issue. All that sugar is linked to Diabetes and heart disease. And since he loves milk and water, I don’t see any point in hooking him on a junk-drink.
And surely it’s my right as a parent to decide what my son will drink, including exactly how much of it he will consume, right?
A new law in New York City, where we live, now bans supersize non-diet soda, sweetened teas, and other high-calorie beverages (defined as anything larger than 16 ounces) from being sold in cafeterias, restaurants, theaters, and fast-food joints.
Although I’ve supported the gross-out ads that run on TV and are plastered on subway cars to encourage people to think twice before tossing back a sugary drink–Americans do drink too much soda–this ban annoys me for several reasons:
* The ban isn’t very smart. People can just go to a place where free refills are offered and drink as much sugar as they wish. If there aren’t refills, they can purchase two sodas. Or, they can go to the store and buy a jumbo bottle of soda. If sugar is the real concern here, why not look at smart ways to better regulate sugar?
Bottom line is that this law isn’t going to change what Mason drinks–or, frankly, what we drink in our household. We don’t drink mass quantities of soda, but if we wanted to, we would. I think it should be our choice what we consume, not the government’s decision.
Would a ban like this where you live influence how much soda your family drinks?
“At any point did you worry…that some people might [say], ‘Wow that kid’s really overweight and he’s only 12″?
Matt Lauer asked this startling question during an interview with Nathan Sorrell, the 200-pound, 5′ 3″ star of Nike’s Olympic ad campaign “Find Your Greatness,” and his mother on the Today Show this morning. The 12-year-old was chosen to participate in the campaign, which shows him running down a lone highway while a narrator talks about how we’re all capable of achieving greatness.
I love Nathan’s heart and his drive. I think that it’s great that he’s inspired to get into shape after participating in this ad. And I think that he’s an awesome role model for anyone who is trying to lose weight. I wish I could hug him. But it made me sick that he was in a position where he had to answer such a humiliating question on national TV.
I thought about the interview as I dropped Mason off at school (thankfully there was no vomiting incident this morning), stood in line at Starbucks for my latte, and rode the elevator up to my office at work. The more I thought about it, the angrier I felt. By the time I logged onto my computer I was outraged.
Where were his parents while he was packing on the pounds? He didn’t become obese overnight. In fact, Nathan was so out of shape that he had to stop and vomit on the side of the road during the shoot, according to an ABC News report.
During the interview, Nathan’s mom Monica said that she was “wowed that Nike picked Nathan for their ad” and said that it was “something else to see your son on TV during the Olympics,” however, she seemed to be missing one critical detail: Her 12-year-old was in the ad, on TV, because he’s obese. She never once acknowledged that Nathan is facing a major health crisis for which she is at least partially responsible. Nor did she speak about how she’d help Nathan stay inspired to get fit.
Maybe you’re agreeing with me right now, or maybe you’re thinking that I’m being a mean, judgey mom. But when it comes to a child’s health, even if it isn’t my own child, I can’t help it. Childhood obesity is a major crisis in this country and we as parents are in a very powerful position to put an end to it. So why are so many of us dropping the ball?
I hope that Nathan gets healthy, and seeing his tremendous spirit on TV, I’m betting he will. I’d love to see a fit Nathan run in a follow-up Nike ad.
I also hope that his mom wakes up and does her part to help him succeed. Make him nutritious meals. Get out there and jog with him. Remind him that he was great even before Nike put him on TV. Get him healthy now, before it’s too late.
Photo: Sign via Stacie Stauff Smith Photography via Shutterstock.com
Yesterday, Gawker shared a video from YouTube of a tot named Noah drinking root beer for the first time. Noah clearly loved the sugary drink, but many viewers weren’t charmed one bit. Here’s a sample of comments, cherry-picked by Gawker’s Neetzan Zimmerman:
“ONWARD TO OBESITY!!!!” “It’s like instant autism.” “Every time I see a parent feeding their kids soda I want to punch them in the face.”Some viewers even called Noah’s parents child abusers for letting him have the soda.
Although I think that it’s absolutely absurd to let your toddler drink soda, I don’t think what we’re seeing in this video is abuse. Noah seems to be a happy kid taking a few swigs of root beer from a straw. It appears to be the first time he’s ever tried it, and his reaction is pretty cute. C’mon, it’s soda, not bleach.
But I think that giving your kid soda can be abusive in certain contexts. If, for example, you’re giving your tot only soda to drink, along with a high-cal, fat-filled diet, I believe you’re committing child abuse. Your deliberately endangering your child’s health.
The childhood obesity epidemic is one reason that kids shouldn’t be drinking soda. (Adults shouldn’t be either, but I cheat from time to time, when Mason isn’t around.) We’re also seeing studies about how toxic sugar may be to our bodies. And parents need to be teaching their kids how to make healthful food choices at home, not introducing them to bad habits. Parents should model good eating habits too.
My bottom line: If your tot is thirsty, pour him a glass of milk or water. If he says he wants a drink with bubbles, give him sparkling water. There’s just no need to encourage him to drink soda, or to even make drinking it an option.
What do you think of this video? Do you let your tot drink soda?
Moms think chunky is cuter when it comes to their tots, a new study suggests. Researchers in Baltimore examined 280 mothers aged 18 to 46, 72 percent of whom were overweight themselves, and the moms who had overweight toddlers believed their children were normal weight, whereas the moms of underweight toddlers wished they were plumper.
The findings suggest that “U.S. mothers often do not have a realistic idea of their offspring’s weight, and many still cling to the notion that a chubby child is healthy child,” according to an article on MSNBC.
“A long time ago, it was OK to value a chubby baby when kids were underweight and we had potato famines and what not,” said researcher Erin Hager, of the University of Maryland School of Medicine. “It was a sign you’re doing well for yourself.”
“But that is not how it is today in the United States,” said Hager, whose study appears in the journal Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine.
Although this study was narrow in its scope, I feel like it’s pretty representative of the opinions of the moms I meet.
As the mom of a skinny 20-month-old, I can relate with moms who wish their kids were plumper. There are times when I pray Mason would pack on five pounds, so I wouldn’t have to defend his size to other moms, or hold my breath every time he gets weighed at the pediatrician’s office. But, truly, those are my issues, and I’m trying to change my attitude. Instead, I’m choosing to focus on what a happy, joyful child Mason is.
What about you? Do you obsess over your child’s size?
Photo: Toddler via Chris Leachman/Shutterstock.com
I was horrified when I heard that a mother put her seven-year-old daughter on a diet. Then I found out that Vogue paid Dara-Lynn Weiss to write an essay for its current issue about the Weight Watchers-style diet that she forced upon her child, and I was absolutely appalled, flabbergasted, disgusted. Honestly, there are no words to adequately express my horror.
In her essay, the Manhattan socialite writes about the unconscionable actions that she took to slim down her daughter Bea once she noticed she “had grown fat,” including depriving her little girl of dinner and berating her when she ate junk food. There are also images of her and Bea modeling in the magazine–just one of the “rewards” that Bea got after spending a year on the diet and losing 16 pounds. (She also received new dresses and a feather hair extension.) The warped message: Thin equals beauty and privilege, fat equals ugly and unworthy. I don’t know about you, but that’s definitely not a message I’d ever want to give to my kid.
Not surprisingly, Weiss writes that she has a history of struggling with her own body image, and I agree with this assertion by Katie J.M. Baker of Jezebel: “Weiss was projecting her hatred of her own body onto her child throughout her year-long diet.” Only that kind of self-loathing could motivate you to treat your daughter this way–and then fail to recognize (or care) how devastating it would be for her to have to relive it through an article in a very popular national magazine. Imagine having your peers read this kind of thing about you; Bea’s classmates might be too young to really get it now, but this story will haunt Bea through high school.
The editors who commissioned this manuscript, as well as the people who gave Weiss a book deal because of it–that’s right, a book deal–should be fired. And this “mom” needs to be arrested.
I’m not making light of childhood obesity; it’s an epidemic in this country that afflicts 17 percent of our children, according to the Centers for Disease Control, and we can’t ignore it. But this mother’s horrific actions are not an appropriate solution. Starving your child and therefore depriving her of the nutrients that she needs to grow is child abuse. Why not teach her how to eat healthfully instead? And to be active as part of a healthy lifestyle?
In fact, I don’t believe Weiss’ motivations had anything to do with Bea’s health. Instead she strikes me as one of those appalling parents who view their children as accessories that can enhance their own image, sort of like the latest Birkin bag. In this case, Weiss molded Bea into a shiny accessory that was fit for the pages of Vogue, and I’m afraid Bea will pay for her mother’s selfishness for the rest of her life.
Weiss met her own goals, but at what cost to Bea’s mental health, self-confidence, and general perception of right and wrong? As Weiss writes in her essay: “When I ask her if she likes how she looks now, if she’s proud of what she’s accomplished, she says yes. Even so, the person she used to be still weighs on her. Tears of pain fill her eyes as she reflects on her yearlong journey. “That’s still me,” she says of her former self. “I’m not a different person just because I lost sixteen pounds.”
I wish I could hold Bea and rock her. I’d tell her that being a good person is so much more important than modeling a skirt in Vogue, and then I’d pray that she believed me despite her toxic upbringing.