As many of my regular viewers to this web blog know, there are many factors contributing to childhood obesity. I post daily here about it, whether news print articles, opinions, feedback, or just personal opinion.
Recently, I wrote an article for Yahoo! (click here) about childhood obesity. I started searching for sources for this article, and received over 100 responses to the question, “What do you think caused the rise in childhood obesity?” Responses came from professional and Olympic athletes, fitness experts, health experts, nutritionist, and parents.
I was unable to use everyone’s feedback, but thought it would be great to post some of their responses on my blog in a new web series, “What Causes Childhood Obesity.” I hope that you enjoy the opinions here from various individuals. Please remember, my including their posts does not necessarily mean I agree or endorse their opinion, rather, a place to share other people’s thoughts.
On the surface, obesity, whether in adults or children is the simple and natural outcome of eating more than our body requires given the amount of energy we are burning. The more we continue to allow ourselves as parents and as a society to focus on the surface the more this problem will continue to grow because we are missing the most important piece of this puzzle: Why are children (and adults) eating more than they are hungry for? Yes, the kinds of foods our kids are choosing is a factor; the proximity to junk foods, ie. sugary treats and processed carbs is higher than ever before and that naturally has an impact. But the amount of food our kids are ingesting is not in response to their hunger and fullness cues. If it were they would not be obese.
The amount of food they are ingesting has much more to do with the fact that our children are emotionally and psychologically stressed; their emotional needs for support and connection are often being neglected intentionally or otherwise by parents that are drained, stressed themselves, or just lacking the skills to be emotionally present for their kids. They are suffering from a lack of healthy role models for self-care and self-awareness. These children are self-medicating the anxiety and depression that are naturally triggered by these unmet needs for support, nurturing, validation and connection, with processed carbohydrates and refined sugars which have a direct and immediate effect on the pleasure centre in the brain, triggering a dopamine release (akin to that which is triggered by alcohol, cocaine or ecstasy) and making us feel simultaneously soothed, nurtured, and numb.
Meet their needs for love, acceptance and belongingness. Show them, don’t just tell them, that they are important and worthwhile. Help them move out of their chronic feelings of anxiety and depression by showing them how to solve problems and how to trust themselves to manage any of life’s stressful situations with dignity and respect. Understand that this is a problem of emotional and psychological distress and the food is just the coping strategy they are using to manage the symptoms of anxiety and depression.
Michelle Morand, Founder and Director of The CEDRIC Centre, Counselling for Stress Free Eating