What readers had to say about childhood-obesity topic
We asked for your feedback about childhood obesity and you delivered — via email, online comments, Twitter, Facebook and a live chat with two experts.
Seattle Times staff reporter
Coming Sunday in Pacific Northwest magazine
Beyond traditional team sports, kids find ways to get active and stay fit.
On Sunday, we published four stories, two videos and numerous photos and graphics about childhood obesity. We asked for your feedback and you delivered — via email, online comments, Twitter, Facebook and a live chat with two experts. Whew!
You had questions about the differences between various types of sugars; about the ubiquitous (over)simplification of "calories in/calories out"; about school lunch and portion sizes and whether exercise is enough (sadly, no.)
Now it's our turn to share again. We read and culled and pruned your feedback to curate this list of some of the most useful comments, grouped by theme. Call it the "Best of You."
Stop the blame:
• "Telling people to love their bodies and telling them that they are OK the way they are" is the best approach, wrote food blogger Jill Richardson (www.lavidalocavore.org).
Make changes, even small ones:
• Lots of you said the first step is stocking your cupboards with stuff you WANT the kids to eat, and ridding it of the rest. "Lots of fruit, fresh veggies," wrote my2cents in Lake Forest Park.
• Make goals, wrote registered dietitian Becky Hellerstein, one of the experts in our chat. One idea? Choosing a healthy after-school snack that includes fresh produce and protein.
• Liquid calories count — and can add up faster than you might think, Hellerstein noted. Mollie Grow, a pediatrician who also answered your questions online, said the overconsumption of sugar-sweetened beverages like sodas "is probably one of the single biggest changes we have made as a society that has contributed . . . to gaining weight."
• "Portion control!" wrote Trixi of Seattle.
• "We need to quit 'blaming' the world around us and claim responsibility for our own lives," Informed Educator wrote.
But I have a picky eater:
• Make trying new foods into a game, Grow advised. Put it on their tongues and have them describe it; look up the nutrition content online. It can "open it up as an exciting new world to explore, rather than feeling like they're being nagged."
• "Introduce one new food at a time and introduce it with 'safe' foods that are not a challenge for your child," Hellerstein wrote.
• "If the kids know that by refusing to eat something unfamiliar they will force their parents' hand & get what they want, of COURSE the kid is going to refuse to eat!" wrote Local Lady of Shoreline. "Parents need to quit being their children's friends and/or servants and start being their parents."
Words of encouragement:
• "Focus on what you can do today to get you and your family one step closer to living a healthy lifestyle," Hellerstein wrote.
• "It's never too late to start," wrote afd of Seattle.
• Joel F. Mangalindan of Bothell notes the 17 percent increase in food consumption since the 1970s. "Why?" he asks. "Because (people) don't feel satiated by their usual intake." As a veterinarian and animal nutritionist, he attributes it to the decreasing levels of fat in our diets thanks to the low-fat craze. For two decades, he's been adjusting the fat content in feed to make animals eat more or less. It never fails: more fat=less consumption. "People are eating more because there is significantly less fat in their diet than before," he concludes.
• What about incentives for healthy behavior and weight loss? suggested Bob Kircher of Seattle. Discount health insurance is one option. It works for auto insurance, Kircher points out. It's been tried on a small scale with health insurance, too, but we'll need more research to know if it's effective in the long term, added reader Bob Harkness.
• Education — but in creative ways, suggests Johari Hemenway Vos, a retired Seattle schoolteacher, who showed kids the "science behind why eating certain foods affects us certain ways."
"Kids dissected hearts and kidneys (from sheep), demonstrated their knowledge to family and other classes . . . created/sewed life-size models of the digestive and cardiopulmonary systems, tracked their own steps and food in ways that were fun." Vos even volunteered her fingers to prick for "experiments on what happens to blood sugar when certain foods vs. others are eaten," then plotted the data. Vos said the lessons stuck with the kids, too.
Maureen O'Hagan: 206-464-2562 or email@example.com.
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