“I was so upset that you were a skinny baby, I fed you milkshakes.”

Posted on Sep 6th 2012 by Dr. Carm

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I was an obese child. I often wondered why my parents fed me the way that they did. One day, after the fat was gone, my mother and I were looking through a photo album. There I was as a baby, completely naked.  Funny thing was, I was skinny.  Not “kid with malnutrition” skinny, but very thin. I said, “Look at me! I was a thin baby. What happened?” Mom said, “Oh, I was so upset with you being skinny. I thought you were sick, so I fed you ‘til you looked healthy.” “You mean the fat was on purpose?” “Oh, yes, it is amazing how much weight you put on with those milkshakes every night!” Clearly, other children were not loved as much as I was since they were not getting nightly milkshakes. I don’t remember any of the other kids in my class being overweight. Let’s just say it set me apart - and not in a good way.  Unfortunately, I would have a lot of company today. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), “Childhood obesity has more than tripled in the past 30 years. Currently, more than one third of children and adolescents are overweight or obese.” Obesity is defined as a body mass index (BMI) of greater than or equal to the 95th percentile of the CDC growth chart. Obesity has both immediate and long-term effects on health and well-being. In the short term, obese youth are more likely to have risk factors for cardiovascular disease, such as high cholesterol or high blood pressure. In a study published in the Journal of Pediatrics, 70% of obese youth (aged 5 to 17 years old) had at least one risk factor for cardiovascular disease.[1] One of the striking developments in pediatrics has been the number of children and adolescents that are being diagnosed with pre-diabetes or Type 2 diabetes, conditions which historically have been associated with the elderly. In the long term, children and adolescents who are obese are likely to be obese as adults, and are therefore more at risk for adult health problems such as heart disease and type 2 diabetes.  Obesity is associated with increased risk for many types of cancer including cancer of the breast and colon. It is no surprise that children and adolescents who are obese are also at a high risk for social and psychological problems such as stigmatization and poor self-esteem. Is this the legacy that we want to leave to our children? I know that my parents felt very badly about my struggles with my weight and by my early teens, mom switched from making me milkshakes to serving me veggies with a low calorie dip! Post_image_for_Eating_healthy_starts_at_home What can we do to turn this trend? Here are a few tips to mitigate or prevent excess weight and obesity in your household: • Encourage healthy eating. Don’t bring processed and fat-filled foods into your household. Don’t buy chips, cookies and sugary drinks. If they are not there, they will not be eaten there. • Make lunches for your child aiming for lean protein, calcium-rich foods and fruits and veggies. An example of a good lunch would be a turkey and cheese sandwich on whole grain bread, an apple or grapes, a lower fat yogurt and water. • Get your child up and out of the house. Get them involved in sports and limit TV time to one hour a day. I have two teenage daughters. I know that this is not easy. I swore to myself that I would not let them suffer the ridicule that I did as an obese kid and certainly would never want to see them unhealthy. Of course, you will get push back. If you start early and are diligent, your children will do to you what mine now do to me: critique my food choices and let me know when I stray off course. Oh, the joys of parenthood.
[1] Source: Freedman DS, Zuguo M, Srinivasan SR, Berenson GS, Dietz WH. Cardiovascular risk factors and excess adiposity among overweight children and adolescents: the Bogalusa Heart Study. Journal of Pediatrics 2007;150(1):12–17.  

Filed under: Mind/Body/Soul  

Dr. Carm

Dr. Carmella Sebastian is Florida Blue’s Vice President of Medical Affairs. In this role, she is responsible for leading the development of an integrated clinical strategy to improve members’ health and well-being while creating and implementing a market-facing strategy to best represent the company’s clinical interests and mission. She, her husband Louis and two daughters call Tampa home. Find her on Twitter @Dr_Carm or visit her website, http://www.drcarm.com/.

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This post reminded me of how any time I said my tummy hurt, my grandmother would give me a Hershey bar to make it better. Guess whose tummy hurt a lot when she was younger? yet, she and my parents always complained about my weight.

Kathy, thank you for your comment. Chocolate always makes me feel better. I am originally from NE Pennsylvania which is about an hour from Hershey PA. The entire town smells like chocolate! I struggled with my weight until 7th grade. I started liking boys and the weight seemed to melt off plus mom quit the milkshake thing. Now, at 50, my concentration is being as healthy as possible and making sure that someday (but NOT TOO soon), I'll be able to outrun my grandkids! Dr. S

Thank you so much. I am learning everyday also. My next WW weigh-in is tomorrow morning and I really did well this week. Even though the scale may not show it, my clothes show it! My husband (the personal trainer) said "don't get hung up on the scale"...easy for him to say, he just took 2nd place in a triathalon last week! I said to him "well, babe the only way WW can measure your success is to MEASURE your success. They don't comment on how my underwear fit. " Thank God, some dignity left! Have a great weekend. Dr. Carm

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