The Very Hungry Caterpillar: Good Lesson for Childhood Obesity?

Food Supply & Food Politics

Mar 09

The childhood obesity epidemic is becoming a grave concern to many health care groups. According to the Center for Disease Control,  results from the 2007-2008 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES)—using measured heights and weights—indicate that an estimated 17 percent of children and adolescents ages 2-19 years are obese.

Two groups have worked together to try to combat this situation. The American Academy of Pediatrics and a group affiliated with former President Bill Clinton recently announced their plan to use the book The Very Hungry Caterpillar, by Eric Carle,  to help kids make nutritious food choices. On March 8, the two groups declared their intentions to send more than 17,000 pediatricians special copies of the book, along with growth charts and parent handouts on healthy eating.

Essentially, the caterpillar eats different fruits each day, until one day it eats much too much of a variety of foods (some junk) and then it gets a belly ache.

Medical doctors are not really educated about nutrition in medical school, but this campaign should be simple; hand out a book and some pamphlets and tell parents to read to the children. Of course what is missing here is the education of the parents to eliminate some of the things that are most assuredly making their kids fat; regular and diet sodas, fruit juices and sugary or artificially sweetened drinks, candy, cake and commercial snacks of all kinds, fast food meals, carbohydrate loaded meals, and school breakfasts and lunches. Sadly, it is  primarily what most kids (and families) eat.

While it’s always beneficial to give out information, parents reading about healthy choices to their children gives lip service to the concept if it isn’t practiced at home. Additionally, there is the ever present problem of just what is a healthy diet? The “diet dictocrats” are always pushing whole grains, fruits, vegetables and low fat. So a “good”  breakfast is whole grain cereal and low fat milk, right? NOT! This is just what they use to fatten cattle and hogs. And this is just what feeds into intestinal dysbiosis and yeast overgrowth by providing sugars and starches that are difficult to digest because of improper preparation of grains. (Click here to learn about the proper preparation of grains.)

Children need fat in order to develop their brains, their bodies and their hormone systems. Cholesterol is the basis for every single hormone in the body. Half of brain matter is fat and cholesterol. All cell membranes are made of saturated fats as well as other fats. Cell membrane integrity is very important as it keeps the important nutrients in the cell and it keeps the toxic elements outside the cell. When this breaks down, disease develops. Lastly, there are essential (that means we have to eat it to get it) fat soluble vitamins in fat. Getting these through our food is better than through artificially made supplements.

Here’s the solution. Get rid of all the packaged cold cereals (even the organic ones. There will be more about cereals in later posts). Serve eggs for breakfast. It is the perfect food for the brain and will give a child a great start to the school day. Serve a glass of full fat milk (preferable raw).  This is another perfect food from nature and will help stave off hunger until lunch time. Most children do not like low fat milk and will only drink it if it has artificial flavorings which make low fat milk even more of a processed food and less desirable than it already is.

Under the USDA Guidelines of today, children are starving for the nutrients only available from fats. Consequently, their bodies keep telling them they are hungry. The starchy, sugary foods they typically eat will never satisfy them because they provide no nutrients. These obese children are malnourished. Give them fat.

This post is linked to: Real Food Weekly, Simple Lives Thursday, Fight Back Friday, Fresh Bites, Grain Free Tuesdays

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