Wednesday, May 16, 2007
Are women responsible for obesity among children?
Women have been blamed for many of the world's problems since Eve in the Garden of Eden. But when I heard women were being blamed for childhood obesity, I was more than skeptical. The theory is that when American women started to enter the workforce en masse in the 1970s and '80s, kids started getting fatter. (Watch video)
Lew Fuller of the Obesity Society, a scientific society that studies the topic, says it's not that women shouldn't go to work, it just means that when women did go to work there was no one home to make balanced meals and make sure the kids got out and exercised.
Some of the working mothers we talked to acknowledged that their haste can make make for bigger waists. They said they were often too tired after working all day to make a meal for their kids and ended up picking up fast food. According to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, when children and teens eat fast food, they consume more calories, fat, carbohydrates, sugars and sugary beverages.
Does that mean that Mom is to blame for the 16 percent of American children that are overweight? (That's three times the number of kids that were overweight in 1980.)
Not so fast, according to Kathryn Thomas of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. "At it's very simplest, our kids are taking in a lot more calories than they are burning off. There are a lot of reasons for that. It's not just because they aren't eating as many dinners at home," she says. Thomas recommends all members of American families take a close look at their eating and exercise habits. "We need to get physical education back into schools. We need to get the junk food out of schools. We need to make communities safer for kids to walk and bike and play," says Thomas.
So weight management begins in the home, with Mom and Dad. But it continues at school and in the community. And instead of pointing fingers at working Moms, maybe we should be looking in the mirror. What do you think?
For more on this and other diet and fitness information, check out Dr. Sanjay Gupta's Fit Nation segment every Friday on "American Morning." Also, sign up for the Fit Nation Challenge - click here for details.
ABOUT THE BLOGGet a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN's chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends -- info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.
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