This is going to be a rant…. So, I want to apologize right now. I’m not really sure exactly were this is going to go because I have so much to say and it’s a subject that I am incredibly passionate about.
That passion becomes anger at times and it can often be misdirected.
I’m trying to find my focus and stick to the facts so that I can be heard. And, hopefully, make a difference to at least one person.
Here’s what happened….
I was at a local diner with my family when a grandmother, father, and young daughter were seated across from us, well within vision and hearing distance. The entire family was severely, morbidly obese. This is not judgement in ANY way, this is purely a factual observation that I’m sure I will get heat on, but I digress…
The father was well over 300 lbs and the daughter, who was about 7 years old, was probably close to 125 lbs. An average 7 y/o girl should weigh about 50 lbs.
She was so large, that her physical features like her chin, neck, and eyes were obscured by fat. And before you ask, NO, this was NOT a medical condition.
It was heartbreaking.
Within minutes of sitting down, the little girl started begging her father for a soda. It was clear that the dad wanted his daughter to skip the sugary drink but she was relentless and the grandmother took the child’s side. After all, it was just ONE soda. She would drink water when she got home.
When the soda got to the table, the child was ecstatic and the grandmother looked at her son and said. “Look how happy you just made your daughter.” Emotional blackmail. Fantastic.
It was now clear that the dad was TRYING to find ways to cut back on the sugar his child was consuming but he was up against the child AND the grandmother, so he was in a no-win situation. If that was the only issue, I could understand.
The dad WAS trying to do the right thing. But, here’s where I got upset…
After the child got the soda, she proceeded to eat the following: A large Portuguese roll with butter, a salad with Italian dressing, a Texas toast grilled cheese, and a large order of fries with ketchup. Mercy!
The carbohydrate load on just the MAIN food totals around 205 grams. (Before “sneaky” carbs!) And the calorie intake for just dinner hits 1800 calories.
Pardon my French, but HOLY SHIT!!
Now, let me hit you with some facts:
* A sedentary 7-year-old child should only be consuming about 1,200 to 1,400 calories per day. Adding an extra 250 to 500 calories per day, depending on age and activity, will result in weight gain of about 1 pound, per week. That’s the potential of 52 additional pounds by her next birthday!
* For 1 pound of extra body weight, it is an extra 3 pounds of pressure and stress on your joints. Not to mention the strain on your organs and potential hormonal imbalance.
* Since 1976-1980 NHANES Survey has shown that the obesity rate for 6-11 year olds has gone from 6.5% to a staggering 18.4%!!
* The instance of Type 2 diabetes in children has skyrocketed over the last 20 years and is STILL CLIMBING.
And unlike Type 1 diabetes, Type 2 can be completely controlled with a balanced diet and exercise!!
But that requires EDUCATION and, in my humble opinion, that’s a huge piece that most Doctors and Nutritionists get wrong. So, subsequently, the parents and patients aren’t properly educated to appropriately manage their condition.
So, I’m mad at the Doctors. Obesity and Type 2 Diabetes care are a multi-million-dollar industry in the United States. (More on THAT rant later!)
Why would they educate their clients on proper nutrition and lose all that potential income?
I’m mad at the grandmother and father for accepting their eating habits and weight as part of their “genetics” and not recognizing what they are doing to themselves and this child. Mostly because this same factor was a turning point for me with my own son’s obesity and health. There are SO many fantastic resources available to us at the click of a mouse! Do some research. It’s out there!
But mostly, I’m mad at myself.
I wanted to walk over and ask the dad to step into the hall for a moment so that I could give him my card. But I was afraid. Afraid he would yell at me and tell me to mind my own business – which is completely within his rights!! Afraid I might upset his mom and his daughter. Afraid I would come off as judgmental. Afraid that in the society we live in I would be seen as rude and uncouth.
Maybe if I had tried, I could’ve planted a seed that helped him get the education he needed to give his daughter a healthier life? (Even if he got mad at first!)
Maybe I could’ve found a way to advocate for this child in a way that would’ve been accepted and not seen as an accusation?
Maybe I could’ve provided a solution instead of turning a blind eye?
Maybe I could have told them about my experiences and my son’s experiences with weight loss and diabetes management as a point of reference?
But I did nothing… so I’m just as much to blame.