Archive for the ‘Childhood obesity epidemic’ category

Thanksgiving Day can last all year round

November 21, 2011
family dinner is one of the best ways to connect with each other at tHanksgiving and every other day of the year. Family dinner with toddlers, preschoolers, school age, tweens, teens, teenagers and adolescencts means less drug abuse, less alcohol and tobacco abuse. Family dinner is one of the best ways to connect with your teens and children and keep them off the street and out of trouble. Family dinner is  place to absorb manners, values and behavior.
Family dinner isn’t only for Thanksgiving Day.

Thanksgiving on Thursday is the ultimate family dinner of the year. Thanksgiving is a reminder to keep family dinner — or breakfast — sacred, even if your kids/teens resist.

Every family dinner will not be perfect. I can remember many the argument among the kids or me falling prey to a power struggle with my oldest daughter during a family dinner. Family dinners are worth the effort even if they’re not Thanksgiving Day-perfect because they keep kids connected to us.

When kids have a strong connection to parents they are less likely to use and abuse drugs, alcohol and tobacco. Study after study has demonstrated the efficacy of family dinner. This study is famous and persuasive.
Having family dinner or breakfast three or more times a week connects families AND it insures kids receive better nutrition.

Family dinner benefits kids socially, psychologically and physically. How can you go wrong? Start with the goal of having one family dinner a week. Use a family meeting to get the kids involved in planning, preparing and cleaning up the dinner so it doesn’t all fall on mom’s or dad’s lap. Encourage your kids to cook something for the dinner, either with you or independently, depending on their age. Make it their responsibility to help clean up.

Make family dinner or breakfast a habit. Turn off the electronics (parents, too), tell stories, look at each other, enjoy and appreciate each other and the food. Fight if you must — it shows you are emotionally connected. Take the time to resolve it, too, and come up with a plan to keep the peace during dinner.

Thanksgiving Day tips for families

1. Remember to involve the kids and teens when getting ready for the big meal this week. It won’t feel like a chore when they are contributing with the adults to create a wonderful meal, day and memory. The kids will feel connected, capable and creative.

2. Don’t force them to eat anything. Offer new foods and keep a neutral expression if they reject them. You can say, “Taste buds change.”

3. Teach them before Thursday how to say, “No thank you,” instead of, “Yuck, I hate that!” and how to say, “Aunt Sue, please pass the butter,” instead of standing up to get it. Even little kids can learn basic manners when parents model them.

Sugar overdose!

November 1, 2010
candy on halloween is NOT the only option. pencils, airplanes, spider rings and apples and raisins can be used for trick or treat. Sugar is not the be all, end all. Halloween sugar will not kill you but the rest of the year moderation is the key to long term beat childhood obesity and type 2 diabetes developed in childhood.

Would you be disappointed to get a Halloween airplane, spider ring or ghost pencil instead of candy?

“I felt a little cheap giving this stuff out,” said my faithful husband after he gave out airplanes, spider rings and pencils last night while I cackled in a witch costume from a perch above the garage door, “I smell a little kiddie in my driveway,” followed by an evil cackle.

We had sugarless fun — without saccharin or aspartame — by playing along with the holiday and emphasizing its roots: to dress up and scare away evil spirits.

That said, kids will survive a one-night candy binge. This blog offers some common sense ways to dispense of some of the candy without a power struggle.

Halloween aside, the real challenge is moderating your family’s sugar intake during the rest of the year to prevent obesity, which can lead to diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease and stroke.

The Millennial generation is predicted to be the first generation to be less healthy than their parents.

Sugar is public health enemy number one. The average American consumes over 185 pounds a year, about one five-pound bag every 10 days, about a cup of sugar a day, some 48 teaspoons.

Sugared beverages are among the top offenders.

  • A 20-oz. bottle of coke has 16+ teaspoons of white pleasure.
  • A 20-oz. bottle of Mountain Dew weighs in at 19 teaspoons.
  • A bottle of flavored iced tea also contains 16 teaspoons of sugar.
  • A grande-size Starbucks Cafe Mocha contains 10+ teaspoons.
  • Vitamin water has 8+ teaspoons.

Regular food is packed with sugar. There are 10 teaspoons of sugar in Breyer’s Black Cherry yogurt. A granola bar has 4 teaspoons. A fun-size bar of Three Musketeers has 3 teaspoons.

After a lengthy fast that left him feeling weak (as was the custom of ascetics of the day), the Buddha ate some rice and felt revived. He then espoused “The middle way.”

The middle way is not addiction or abstinence, but moderation.

May you find moderation in your candy consumption this week, and in your sugar consumption all year round. What steps can you take to reduce the sugar in your died, particularly the hidden sugar?

Note: Thanks to Tracy at for the above facts and figures.

Trick or treat on foot

October 27, 2010
safe trick or treaters, halloween and evil people, keeping kids safe on halloween. walking and trick or treating. Going alone on halloween. Halloween isn't what it used to be. Diabetes and childhood obesity and halloween.

Photo by bloximages

During my regular radio spot on Mondays with Wireless Mike during the coffee break at 10:15 am, we talked about the differences between Halloween for “kids today” and 20, 30, 40 years ago.

One of the biggest differences is the skyrocketing number of fat and diabetic kids, and the prediction that one-in-three adults will be diabetic by 2050.

I blame the car and its drivers for the obesity and diabetes epidemics.

We drive everywhere, including parents driving kids house-to-house on Oct. 31 in fear of Jack the Ripper.

According to research by Lenore Skenazy, the famous NYC mother who let her 10-year-old son ride the subway home alone , the rates of childhood abduction have not changed since Baby Boomers grew up.

Skenazy devoted a whole chapter in her book, “Free Range Kids” to the myth of Halloween danger. Only one American was ever convicted for fatal Halloween mischief — a father who poisoned his son for the insurance money.

What HAS changed is the media focus on childhood safety, fingerprinting children and assuming every adult is a potential kidnapper, rapist and ax-murderer. Yes, the Catholic Church helped perpetuate that myth.

In reality, children are most likely to be abducted by a relative [read: estranged parent] and/or a young person ran away from home.

Children are in no more danger for kidnapping than their parents were 20, 30 or 40 years ago. Children today have a one-in-1.5 million chance of being abducted and murdered by a stranger — LOWER than the possibility of getting struck by lightning.

Most parents don’t obsess over the possibility of a lightning strike. So why obsess over stranger danger?

Parents could use “worry power” to obsess over obesity — which about one-third of young people suffer from, that can lead to diabetes, stroke, heart disease and high blood pressure.

For starters, walk from house to house on Halloween.

Next, make sure everyone in the family has a bike. Start biking to places close to home. Use a bike for transportation at least eight months of the year in New England.

Wear them out by walking long distances on Halloween.

Sleep is food for the brain

October 1, 2010


Children and teens and babies need enough sleep. so many children are sleep deprived. Sleep is essential to clarity of mind. Children need sleep like they need food. Good parenting means giving children the opportunity to sleep enough. Teens can be encouraged & expected to sleep.

She ran out of gas.


Now that school has started and children have had a month to get back on track, it’s a good time to schedule a family meeting and negotiate earlier bed times.

Well-rested young people = happy young people.

By the age of 2, most children will have spent more time asleep than awake, according to the National Sleep Foundation [who knew someone cared that much about sleep?]

Many youngsters do not get enough sleep. Toddlers need 12-14 hours of sleep; preschoolers 11-13 hours; school-age 10-11 hours; and teens between 8 1/2 – 9 1/4 hours per night.

According to the foundation, teens who do not get enough sleep can be at higher risk for obesity.

I can attest to this. On Tuesday I woke up at 3:30 am and decided to get up and work on a quilted banner titled, “The Tree of Life” instead of staring at the ceiling.


tree of life, religious tolerance, accepting all religions, religious symbols, islam, christianity, bahai, taoism, hinduism, buddhism, judaism, native american religions, tree of life, turtle, wicca

This is my Tree of Life. How many of the symbols of the world's religions can you identify? My goal is to have one of these in every church, mosque, temple and home in the world.


It threw off my sleep schedule for the day and I felt crummy.

To relieve the headache, I had the urge to eat something – preferably sweet, salty and fatty!

My teens used to have one sleep schedule during the week and on weekends, forcing themselves to stay up late and sleep in. I find that very disruptive to a sleep schedule.

When my four children were young, I kept nap times sacred — for my mental health and theirs! I like what the National Sleep Foundation says — “Sleep is food for the brain.”

Use a family meeting to negotiate earlier bed times . Compromise! Check my free tip sheet on Bed Time routines for ways to lull the under-11 set to sleep effortlessly on a regular basis. Parents must be committed to getting children to bed at a decent hour. They need more sleep than you think.

Get set up for outdoor activity

March 22, 2010
It's easy to persuade children to play outside regularly. It's good for their mental and physical health. They will feel better and look better. Playing outside fights childhood obesity, childhood diabetes, heart disease and stroke. Children naturally will gravitate to the outdoors. Playing outside is essential.

Playing outside with no agenda is one of the best childhood traditions.

Ten ways to get kids to play outside.

  1. Set boundaries. Limit screen time to 30 or 60 minutes a day. Don’t buy video games for children or watch TV yourself. Don’t use electronics to entertain them.
  2. Set an attitude. When they have unstructured time, allow them to feel boredom and to solve it. If they want their boredom to be your problem, involve them in cleaning the house and yard. It’s an instant panacea to cure boredom.
  3. Set the stage. Suggest they play outside and provide the equipment: bikes, skateboards, trampolines, roller blades, swing set, sandbox, a hose, a kiddie pool and big wheels. Live near a park or have a nice yard, give them a garden plot to tend, let them get down and dirty outside. Don’t complain when they come home dirty (computers are so much cleaner).
  4. Set the example.  Enjoy outdoor activities together as a family. Play soccer/baseball/Frisbee/dodge ball in the yard or park. Go to the park/conservation land often and walk the dog there. Take them on weekend excursions to playgrounds, hike, bike, camp, canoe, go sledding, ski, swim, explore rope swings over rivers, bird watch, ride waves, swim in a pond, play in creeks, build a bonfire, and hunt.
  5. Set up or join group outdoor activities. Camping with other families is much more fun than camping alone. Many outdoor organizations offer family activities such as nature walks and canoe excursions.
  6. Set aside the time  to climb a tree, play in a creek, swim in a pond, build snow sculptures, fool around in a rowboat or kayak while tethered to a rope (if they’re young). Encourage ‘tweens and teens to take outdoor excursions with friends and provide transportation, equipment and other support.
  7. Set an attitude. Don’t complain about bad weather. Revel in it. Get wet, muddy, snowy, cold and hot. It’s okay if it rains while you’re camping or hiking.
  8. Set up your home and yard for animals.  Get a dog and expect them to walk it and spend time playing outside with it. Raise chickens together. They will be more in touch with nature, the weather and animals and food.
  9. Set up play dates for younger children by connecting with other parents who e limit screen time and encourage outdoor activity.
  10. Set up ways to attract wildlife such as bird feeders and bat houses.
Keeping backyard chickens is a way for children to connect with nature, their food, the outdoors and animals. Keeping chickens teaches children the discipline of taking care of an animal.

Backyard chickens provide food and a connection to the outdoors.