This is an interview I conducted with Abbey Walsh about child obesity. It was interesting and refreshing to hear her views about the issue and what she thinks would help to control the rates.
Hi, my name is Emily and I’m interviewing Abbey on the topic of child obesity. Child obesity is a very prominent and serious issue. It in fact affects one in three children in the United States alone. So Abbey is here to tell us what defines child obesity, how it became such a large issue, and how it can be prevented. So lets get to it, would you like to introduce yourself?
Sure so my names Abbey Walsh, I own a fitness studio in Butler, Pennsylvania called Focused Fitness, I have an almost two-year-old daughter, and I have my Masters of Science in Human Nutrition.
Technically being obese is just a statistic of having a BMI higher or equal to 30 which really just means that your 20% or more over your ideal body weight.
Basically childhood obesity wasn’t a thing until now. It’s a growing cause to be aware of because adult obesity, we know what it leads to. We know it leads to diabetes, we know it leads to heart disease, and we know how to treat adults with obesity that leads to diabetes and everything. And we know the medications and what they do but the big problem is that with childhood obesity we don’t know the consequences of treating children with the same prescriptions that we’re giving to adults for such a long period of time. So we know some adults that develop type two diabetes or heart disease, we know what giving them these medications from the time of age forty on will do, but we’ve never had children until now starting medications at like age eight and seeing what the health consequences are gonna be from them taking this medication for their whole life. But it’s just really the differences are we don’t know how to treat these kids because we’ve never had this issue.
So it’s a tough age when kids are really young because the most important thing is getting them enough calories. So you know when kids are toddlers they’re picky, they don’t always eat what we want them to eat, they don’t eat a balanced diet, and at the end of the day we have to make sure they get calories. So it’s hard, the biggest challenge is developing healthy habits at a young age and still making sure your child gets adequate calories at the end of the day. For me, what I do is I don’t buy processed foods for my daughter, period. I do everything that we eat, and she doesn’t have any artificial sweeteners, she doesn’t have any added sugars, and she doesn’t have any microwavable meals I’ll say. So if we’re eating green beans at dinner, she eats green beans at dinner. Having your child eat the same foods you’re eating develops healthy habits because kids want to eat what they’re parents are eating. The main thing I would say that I do though is to try to stick to having the least amount of sugar in her diet as possible. We try to get our calories from nutritious foods instead of added sugars.
The main cause of childhood obesity is most definitely sugar. The science has been nailed down on that now that it’s not from fat, it’s not from carbs, it’s from refined carbohydrates, or sugars. The main thing that we found is added sugar consumption as well. What happens in weight gain which then leads to obesity is that you know kids are having added sugars all day long. So that and soda and processed treats, fruit snacks, raisins, even choices that we think are healthy, all these things add up all day long. And when we eat those sugars what happens is blood glucose rises. As the blood glucose rises, insulin is secreted to try to lower our blood sugar. When insulin is secreted, it’s the fat storing hormone basically. So as insulin is secreted our body knows that we’re gonna store fat. So even though you didn’t eat anything, you just drank soda, our blood sugar went so high our insulin had to pump and our body just took all of that and instead of using it for energy, our body stores it as fat. That’s the biggest problem, with adults too, but children are having so much sugar that they’re body stores it as fat. So that’s how child obesity is coming about. The statistics on sugar are insane. We’re not supposed to have, even up to adults, no more than 9.5 teaspoons of sugar a day. That’s like the maximum from the American Heart Association. Today adults are having 22 teaspoons of sugar a day, is the average. Children are having 32 teaspoons a day is the average. You know there’s four grams of sugar in a teaspoon. You do the math that’s an insane amount of grams of sugar that children are consuming everyday, which is just storing as fat. So that’s how obesity happens.
You know the food industry and media are the biggest problems because you don’t see advertisements on TV for apples. You see advertisements for Doritos and Pepsi and all the things that then when the kids are at the grocery store, if you ever look, the things that they see on TV, are at eye level for them. So media and the food industry are making it almost impossible for people to make the right choices. Because even the choices they think they’re making that’s right, like one-hundred calorie packs of different snacks, if you look at the sugar content, the sugar content is extremely high and makes up most of those calories. So definitely the media is not helping us.
I think the biggest thing that would help the obesity rates decrease, and really I honestly believe it’s the only thing that would help them decrease is if we get a hold on sugar. This is the first generation that probably will die before their parents. Like that’s the statistics right now. Kids have obesity you know at age eight and we don’t know how long they’ll live. It’s really sad, and I think until we really take sugar and put it in the front-line its not gonna happen on a government standpoint first, it has to be on the people. The people have to demand that sugar be at least on the label. That would be the first step. Is that the percent of sugar be on the label for people to see. On a community standpoint, teaching families how to cook without sugar. We’ve become accustomed to adding sugar to everything. But giving them that education in communities and teaching them how to cook without sugar I think would definitely help.