January 16, 2012
The National Children’s Study Speaker Series is sponsored by the Center for Leadership Education in Maternal and Child Public Health and the National Children’s Study – Ramsey County Location. On January 11, 2012, the series offered a talk on “Feeding Young Children: The Good, the Bad and the Picky” by Jamie Stang, PhD, MPH, RD, LN, from the UMN School of Public Health. She describes behaviors of young children that are common concerns of parents, discusses the role of parent feeding styles in early childhood obesity risk, as well as identifies behavioral strategies that parents can utilize to cope with challenging food behaviors. Dr. Stang also discusses the role of food allergies and intolerances in challenging food behaviors of young children.
The archived presentation is now available online: https://umconnect.umn.edu/p51351258/.
For more information on the National Children’s Study, visit their webpage at: http://www.nationalchildrensstudy.gov/Pages/default.aspx
September 28, 2011
A fresh viewpoint on food and obesity in the United States by Mark Bittman of the NYTimes: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/09/25/opinion/sunday/is-junk-food-really-cheaper.html. Focusing on claims that fast food is cheaper than buying groceries, Bittman compares food prices via graphics and data. An interesting aspect of the article is that the author focuses on cultural changes in cooking. He argues that the real challenge to people not cooking more is not that families feel too stressed and busy to cook, but the fact that cooking is seen as work, rather than of pleasure. Although I do not completely agree with his challenge to being busy, I do agree that over time behaviors can form if healthy habits change. It may be crucial to challenge the value that food is a reward, so during stressful times, people do not turn to guilty pleasure foods.
Stress is an issue to look at with this article. Are higher income adults less stressed than families of lower SES? When people are stretched too thin, they turn to fast food to give them a quick and easy meal, expelling the least amount of energy. Could the solution be here? The underlying cultural value to change may not be that cooking is better (which most people already agree with) but that cooking is a stressful activity. Change in values start with children, where education can shift beliefs in the next generation. Related to the life course approach, early intervention can challenge behaviors in the future.
Mark Bittman’s arguments about prices and calories are compelling; however people have argued that his approach may seem elitist, in an upper-middle class viewpoint. Do you agree? What about single person households? Food goes stale or rots faster; I cannot eat a head of lettuce fast enough before it goes bad. Frozen fruit and vegetables can be alternative to this. The debates can go back and forth. What are your opinions? Leave some comments below; I would love to hear your thoughts.
May 13, 2010
Posted by Clarence Jones
Isn’t anything sacred? As a lifelong, card carrying member of the “Chubby Baby” club, I was recently surprised by the results of a new study published in February 2010 in the journal Clinical Pediatrics entitled “Identifying the “Tipping Point” Age for Overweight Pediatric Patients” that found over half of all American children are overweight or obese (according to data from the 2007 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES)).
There is an emotional appeal – a cuteness- that chubby babies evoke, but there is a clear risk associated with babies staying chubby to long. According to the study, “The critical period for preventing childhood obesity is during the first two years of a child’s life and for many by three months of age.”
I should not be shocked by this finding. Obesity is a critical public health issue in America. Obesity is an often dismissed or overlooked cultural phenomenon, we have change the word “fat’ to “Phat.” I am so old that I remember when being “heavyset” was actually a term of endearment, describing you as healthy or (maybe hefty) or living a life of abundance – of having more than enough. These cultural values persist.
I went to a men’s event once and saw a father give his daughter a plate of food that even I could not have finished. The father never thought about the long- term consequences of his action. He was only taking care of his child in a way that he felt expressed love.
So what do we do? How do we work with parents and caregivers to redefine “healthy” to include smaller portions, fewer trips to McDonalds, less soda and more fresh, wholesome foods? What suggestions do you, our readers, have?