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February 9th, 2010
05:00 PM ET

Why have we allowed 1/3 of children to become overweight?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

The First Lady is calling on America to get moving - in order to fight childhood obesity. Michelle Obama kicked off a national effort at the White House today to try to reverse the growing epidemic.

First Lady Michelle Obama looks on as Pres. Obama signs a memorandum on childhood obesity in the Oval Office. The measure is part of the First Lady's nationwide campaign to combat childhood obesity.
First Lady Michelle Obama looks on as Pres. Obama signs a memorandum on childhood obesity in the Oval Office. The measure is part of the First Lady's nationwide campaign to combat childhood obesity.

And the numbers are just staggering: One-third of American children are overweight or obese. And one study shows the number of overweight children from ages six to 19 has tripled since 1970. These kids are at higher risk for diabetes and high blood pressure along with other ailments later in life.

The First Lady's initiative is called the Let's Move campaign, and is focused on what families, communities and the public and private sectors can do to reduce childhood obesity within a generation.

She's calling on everyone to get involved - from parents to teachers, doctors, coaches and children. Her plan covers everything from making healthier choices to getting kids to exercise more to providing healthier and affordable foods to inner cities.

Also, the administration is focusing on several steps that government and private companies can take, including:

  • Making package labels easier to read. The FDA is set to work on labels that would appear on the front of the package. And the American Beverage Association has agreed to put calorie labels on the front of its cans and on vending machines within two years.
  • The Obama administration wants to invest more money to make school lunches healthier; and major school food suppliers will have to decrease sugar, fat and salt while increasing whole grains and fruits and veggies in their meals.

Here’s my question to you: Why have we allowed one-third of our children to become overweight or obese?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

Paul writes:
Pretty easy answers, Jack. Two working parents with less time, who are less inclined to monitor and instill discipline. Cheap and convenient junk or fast food that is tasty and accessible everywhere, and a society that focuses on sedentary entertainment (movies, video games, internet, cell phones). Put those three together and you got your answer, Jack. Kids almost have to motivate themselves to solve the problem and it shouldn't be that way.

Frankie writes:
"The American public" has come to be considered as "American consumers." American producers and financiers, a much smaller group of people, do very well and can claim that the economy is strong, the more we consumers manage to consume. It doesn't matter if we are consuming unhealthy food, or overpriced medicine, or goods produced cheaply overseas, just so we consume as much as we can. After all, anything else is socialism, right?

Gary in Oklahoma City writes:
Jack, Have you seen mom and dad lately? There's your answer.

Larry from California writes:
Perhaps you spend too much time on TV and not enough watching it. It's easier to sell things loaded with fat and sugar and so the airwaves are deluged with ads for absolutely unhealthy foods. In the same way that money buys political corruption, it buys obesity, diabetes and death.

Brian writes:
It is the grand scheme of things, Jack. Hasn’t gluttony and slothfulness been the downfall of every great society?

Daniel writes:
One word: cost. Why bother buying fresh food when I can just pop a filler-loaded prepackaged "meal" on the table for a third of the cost?

Eric writes:
When what you see in the mirror is what you see when you look at your kids there is no concept of overweight or obese to teach your children. People allow their children to become what they are used to looking at.

Paul in Florida writes:
Fat kids are easier to find.


Filed under: Children • Obesity
soundoff (227 Responses)
  1. Joe

    Jack,
    I have arrived at the conclusion we are more overweight, not so much because we are less prone for exercise, but more because the foods we eat are not the foods we ate before 1965. Think about it and you will realize that we do have children who exercise less, but not so less that adults and children are so much heavier than in previous decades.

    If you want to admit it, we have allowed big business meaning the food corporations, etc. to abuse the processing of foods. When we have to pay 100 percent more ... for real food, than we can for processed food. When the food manufacturer takes all of the essential ingredients out of the food, processes it, and finally adds in a few so called nutrient additives we are in trouble. When we go to a convenience store and find not one item that has nutritional value, what are we to do?

    Don't blame the American people, as much as you might want to ...

    Joe , Binghamton, NY

    February 9, 2010 at 6:01 pm |
  2. Larraine

    Fast food, processed foods, high fructose corn syrup in EVERYTHING, huge helpings, keeping kids in for fear that they might be "abducted," no more recess.....It goes on and on. There is no one good reason although personally I think the huge helpings in restaurants has made everyone assume that that's normal. As a bariatric patient, I have the stomach a size of a lemon and have worked hard to keep it from stretching. Even before my surgery, I didn't eat the huge helpings that are given in restaurants. I nearly always take food home. A "half" sandwich in most restaurants is the equivalent of a whole sandwich when I was growing up. Chain restaurants offer 3 courses for less than $20. You know they are not offering quality food. Read David Kessler's book about the amount of fat and sugar in foods where you would least expect it. The other thing is that kids don't get to run and play. People are so afraid that their children will be abducted that they keep them inside. In inner city areas, kids can't play outside. They might get shot. Now we have the "fat and proud" movement. I don't believe in name calling or treating people badly because of their weight. That doesn't mean that you should not want to change that if you can. Smaller plates, fresher food, whole grains, less meat, more vegetables and keep on moving. I'm a born again exerciser so doing my weight circuit gets me excited!

    February 9, 2010 at 6:01 pm |
  3. George Dooley

    The child obesity thing starts with the parents. All too many let their kids sit in front of the TV or lay around playing video games for hours on end. I understand this is what the kids want to do, but as parents we need to be in charge. We set strict time limits on how long they can play video games & it works. A few hours outside & maybe 30 mins inside.
    Parents need to stop using the TV & Video gamas as "Babysitters" & maybe play a little ball with their kids!

    February 9, 2010 at 6:01 pm |
  4. Warren in Ohio

    because junk food is as plentiful as junk bonds, and both are necessary to produce the fat cats running things (into the ground).

    February 9, 2010 at 6:02 pm |
  5. Stan Clinton

    A number of critical factors have lead to this. Starting with the parents, lack of proper education on nutrition and corporate America producing chunk food has destroyed a generation of children who will become an incredible health burden to the USA in future years. The US Government has also neglected to help in this epidemic. The Republicans and the Democrats have have failed in making sure that the American people can afford to buy good and healthy food by making it impossible for a family to purchase the proper foods. It is just another disaster looming ove rthe sky of the USA

    February 9, 2010 at 6:02 pm |
  6. Kay Dee

    Oh this is an easy one to answer. Parents work and are trying to raise children, help with homework, do housework, spend quality time with the children, and solve family problems. Where is the time to cook nutritious foods? Or better yet, where is the money to buy the nutritious foods that we don't have time to make?

    February 9, 2010 at 6:02 pm |
  7. Stephanie Varnado

    After serving low-income families for nearly 2 decades in the non-profit sector I think I can safely say that income or the limitation of it has a direct impact on diets for these families. Fresh and healthy doesn't come cheap. Adding to issues in this area is the availability of decent grocery stores in low-income areas and transportation barriers to those stores that exist in more suburban areas. When all you can afford is starch that's all you eat. Fix food for these families and you will see a significant decrease in your obesity stats.

    February 9, 2010 at 6:02 pm |
  8. Lisa

    There are several factors that contribute to obesity in children. 1. Junk food is cheap. You can buy a huge package of bologna and a loaf of white bread for much less than vegetables and fruit. When your budget is tight and you have a family to feed, healthy food is not an option. 2. Parents work full-time, sometimes on more than one job. Even before the recession, many parents were barely making ends meet. Their plight has not improved. So children were ordered to stay home and watch TV. Which leads us to 3. Incidences of children disappearing or being kidnapped have hit the headlines frequently in the past few years, so parents are less inclined to let their children play outside, especially if the parents are at work. After school programs are expensive and hours are prohibitive. Drop-off and pick-up times may not work with the parents' schedule. Sports programs are expensive and usually require a parent to be onsite. 4. Our children are so overscheduled that we are running from one activity to the next without much time for meals. We pick up "something" on the way and it's usually fast food. I can personnally attest to eating concession stand food more often than not because my schedule doesn't accomodate cooking dinner before an event.

    February 9, 2010 at 6:02 pm |
  9. Tara

    For the question of obese children in the U.S., It's a matter of influence. It has become increasingly difficult for parents to complete with the multi-billion dollar add campaigns directly targeting children. Many 'healthy' alternatives that show up in supermarket isles are anything but, and combined with a lack of outdoors activities and diminishing open spaces, this leads to an obesidy epidemic. Refined sugars packaged with food coloring and cartoons show up around every corner and have little or no competitiion from the actual foods (fruits, veggies, ect.) that have next no advertising, and due to their lack of processing, no packaging.
    The best way to go about reigning in the obesity issue is for parents to take control at an early age. Set eating standards early, and allow your children to develop and keep a taste for a variety of whole foods such as raw carrots, peppers, and so on. This can diminish when one assaults their taste buds with processed foods high in sugars and fats. Avoid using places like McDonalds as a 'treat', and instead, treat your children to family activities, indoor and out, that will promote thinking, creativity, movement, and play. Don't play games with food, rather, allow your children to choose what they want to eat, as long as you wisely control the choices. Cook together as a family and reduce T.V. time.
    When parents dictate the meals their children receive, as opposed to allowing food manufacturers such as Kraft and Unilever set the pace, then parents will have greater success in raising health, happy children.

    February 9, 2010 at 6:02 pm |
  10. Ed

    Ed S. from Alaska

    Lack of a strong family structure, responsibilities, and unlimited access to cheap junk food have made kids of the 90s onward fat, lazy, and unmotivated to anything above thier own personal desires. Instead of making gym in school optional or removing it from the curriculum make it mandatory for kids to pass basic fitness to graduate. Tax junk food just like alcohol and cigarettes. I dont want to pay for the health care for all the obese tweens with diabetes. Dont even mention the demise of the American farmer and the fruit and vegetables the U.S used to produce. The U.S is addicated to junk food as much as it has a drug problem.

    February 9, 2010 at 6:02 pm |
  11. dan

    because we ripped apart our old and time tested family model for one that increases the ceo pay check and stock prices..

    my father was the only one in my house that worked. he had a job as a janitor at a city college. he made enough to pay for a house HE WAS BUYING, two cars and we went on vacations. now i work my wife works our lives have shown no vast improvement by this increase of our workforce by double.
    that is why our baby sitter is the TV and Video games. hopefully your kids stay in and dont get kidnapped, maybe they will become unhealthy?
    if me or my wife was home and this was duplicated up and down my block, kids would be out running around again. we need to fix our family structure and realize the only benifactors of all of this hard work in our current system is CEO's and Stock indexes.

    do you work to live or live to work????

    February 9, 2010 at 6:03 pm |
  12. Morika

    Kids are obese because their parents are obese! When i walk to the street i am labeled"small"...actually I'm the size that i am supposed to be everyone else is just BIG! Poor food production in exchange for FASTER food production is mostly to blame. Outside of that, just poor choices and technology that encourages us to be lazy and not get involved with things that will cause us to MOVE!

    February 9, 2010 at 6:03 pm |
  13. Diane in Allentown

    Because 1/2 of the adults are overweight?

    February 9, 2010 at 6:03 pm |
  14. hayden Chasteen

    A major component of childhood obesity is the use of the TV, computers and game systems as baby sitters. Many parents think that as long as the kids aren't causing any problems, then it must be ok for them to sit for HOURS in front of the TV. Add to that the fact that many parents don't cook but instead buy high fat and high sugar fast food to feed their kids (easy way out) and you have a recipe for obesity.

    February 9, 2010 at 6:03 pm |
  15. Sarah

    WE haven't allowed "our" children to become obese. Their parents have by failing to monitor what they eat and drink, how much they move and breathe, and how long they spend doing sedentary, non-creative activities such as television, too much texting and phone usage, and way too much time on videogames and such.

    Yes, portions are too large in restaurants, too much fat, salt and sugar are consumed, and so forth. However, virtually all of this is within the parents' control. I, too, was a latchkey kid in the 1960s, but I was a normal, slender size. My parents didn't keep gallons of soda, chips, and candy in the house, and we ate dinner at home where content and portion were controllable. Both of them worked outside the home and for long hours, without the benefit of computers that make tasks easier. But we also didn't go out to McDonald's but on a very rare occasion, we weren't given large amounts of disposable income to spend on junk, and if we wanted to go to town when my parents weren't available to take us (we lived 4.5 miles out in the country), we either walked or rode a bicycle.

    None of these habits are trapped in some time of no returning. They are all doable now, but if the parents refuse to wrest control of their kids' consumption away from advertisers and the kids themselves, no one else can do it. It is up to them.

    February 9, 2010 at 6:04 pm |
  16. George Guadiane - Austerlitz, NY

    Jack,
    Because we abdicated our role as parents.
    We let our government tell us what is good or bad for our children, in spite of any instincts we may have had. Ketchup is a vegetable and high fructose corn syrup is good for us...
    We watched advertisements that sold "health" but delivered fats, believing that government would protect us from false advertising.
    We bought video games for our whining brats because it was easier to do that then take a stand against them.
    Because we abdicated our role as parents!

    February 9, 2010 at 6:04 pm |
  17. Jack

    When was the last time a kid came to your door asking if you needed your lawn mowed? Saw the majority of kids ride their bikes to school?

    Packaging labels won't help. Kids will eat what they like without their parents controlling them.

    More money for healthy lunches won't help if schools aren't forced to have physical "education" as part of their ciriculum.

    About the only thing that gets any exercise on a child's body today is their fingers as they stare at their phone and text.

    February 9, 2010 at 6:04 pm |
  18. Kim Smith, Dodge City, Kansas

    Because we are too stupid and lazy to learn about what we put into our bodies, and whats more pathetic is, we don't care. Major food producers count on our inability to control our eating habits and prey on that weakness in order to make a buck.

    February 9, 2010 at 6:04 pm |
  19. Matthew Peirsel

    I think there are many reasons for this increase in childhood obesity and obesity in general. It comes from, in some cases, the habits of parents who are overweight or obese, in other cases, parents don't take an active role in the diet habits of their children or are too busy to provide healthy food choices for children. On the other end of this, however, it has become too easy for food companies to produce low quality food that is very calorie dense on the premise of making money. The food industry has, as it's focus, making money, or maximizing profits while minimizing costs. The result is cheaply produced, low quality food of very little nutritional value. Companies such as McDonalds and Burger King, advertise that they offer healthy choices, when in reality, even their salads are unhealthy when compared to healthy alternatives. Parents need to educate themselves on what is good and what is not, they need to form better habits and teach them to their kids. But the food industry needs to be better regulated, food companies need to be held to higher standards and additionally, I think that a fat tax should be imposed on low quality foods, the money from which, should be re-invested in the health of America as subsidies which help to lower the cost of healthy food such as unprocessed meats and fresh produce.

    February 9, 2010 at 6:04 pm |
  20. Jackie

    All our food now has high fructose corn syrup to give it a shelf life that lasts "forever." Handy for the big corporations - not so good for people - especially kids.

    February 9, 2010 at 6:04 pm |
  21. Julie

    I think childhood obesity has occured due to several factors including; very unhealthy school lunches (pizza, chicken nuggets,...), gym class once a week (or not at all), and the fact that it's not safe to let kids ride their bikes around the neighboorhood (or town) like it was when I was growing up.

    February 9, 2010 at 6:05 pm |
  22. Linda in Arizona

    Two words: fast food. Two more words: poor parenting.

    February 9, 2010 at 6:05 pm |
  23. Jeff

    Agree that childhood obesity is a problem (so is adult obesity for that matter), but these comments are typical of the media and government:

    "Her plan covers everything from making healthier choices to getting kids to exercise more to providing healthier and affordable foods to inner cities."

    Pardon me, but can I see some data that suggests that inner cities don't get healthier foods? Also, I didn't know obesity in the suburbs is apparently not a problem. And the 2nd comment:

    "The Obama administration wants to invest more money to make school lunches healthier..."

    Well, of course it does because throwing money at something is always this administration's solution. Maybe they can tax the suburbanites to pay for the food in the inner cities. Seriously, does anyone really think it takes more money to design healthier menu's? Soup and a salad, $3.

    I hope for the kids that there is a better solution than what government programs can provide.

    February 9, 2010 at 6:05 pm |
  24. Bashful

    Once again, it's time for people to stop looking elsewhere for the answers and solutions to their own problems. Kids are fat and lazy because parents are fat and lazy. Once people take a look at themselves as a part of the problem, then solutions will follow. Until then, we will continue to have the healthcare crisis in this country that has been spiraling out of control for decades. Come on American parents, stand up and be parents, not friends, to your children. It's now or never!

    February 9, 2010 at 6:05 pm |
  25. Brandy

    Unfortunately the First Lady is negotiating with the wrong people. The FDA has allowed thousands of chemicals to be added to our food. Beginning with pesticides, hormones, and antibiotics, and ending with monsodium glutamate, preservatives, colors made of coal tar residue such as red #40 and yellow #5, and thousands of chemical compounds approved by the FDA. Unless your diet is composed of 100% organic produce, there is no way to avoid the sabotage these substances have on our bodies and health. Jack, as long as lobbyists for Big Pharma are allowed to dictate our laws we will remain slaves of corporate profit. If the American people and people of all countries continue to allow ourselves and our children to be manipulated like lab-rats then we will all surely perish in a for-profit society.

    February 9, 2010 at 6:05 pm |
  26. Amanda

    Part of the problem is that schools are eliminating physical education classes to make more time for reading, math, and science classes. Until No Child Left Behind is addressed and reconfigured more and more schools will drop P.E. in order to get extra time in the above subjectes so that students improve their test scores up to ensure the school does not loose their funding. NCLB had good intentions with out any way to fund, or implement in it the schools that need it most. Inner city schools often perform the worst, get the least amount of funding, and tend to have more obese children.

    February 9, 2010 at 6:05 pm |
  27. Janell Palmer

    Children are overweight not because of a school lunch they spend 5-10 minutes eating five days a week. Any school teacher or administrator can tell you children barely touch their school lunches. It has nothing to do with labeling on packages or drinking soda. It has everything to do with mothers and fathers being home to cook healthy food for their children, mothers and fathers being home to limit their child's sedentary activities, and mothers and fathers providing safe happy environments where children can flourish. It has everything to do with parenting. So rather than the government spending thousands of dollars on labels that few people read, or healthy school lunches that few children eat - let's spend that money on expecting parents to take their responsibilities seriously.

    February 9, 2010 at 6:06 pm |
  28. Andrew

    Jack, I'm not yet 30-years-old, but it seems to me that kids these days do very little but play video games, talk and text on cell phones, and generally trade physical activity for social nonsense. I recently read the articles on the Boy Scouts of America turning 100, and couldn't help but think that in a matter of decades, the organization will be defunct, or worse, that boys (and girls) will begin working towards merit badges in social media and video technologies. Our culture of excess needs to change. Until it does, there can be no happy medium between physical fitness and obesity.

    Raleigh, NC

    February 9, 2010 at 6:06 pm |
  29. JThomas2121

    Why have so many children become obese? Two main factors: inactivity (including too much time spent playing video games or on the Internet or texting their friends) and the inexpensive cost and readily available junk foods.

    The entire facet of this problem rests with parents. Parents who don't discipline their children, who don't teach them the importance of exercise and eating right, who don't limit the time they spend in front of the TV or computer or video games (homework not included), are parents whose children will tend to be obese.

    I'm sick of everyone trying to pass responsibility off of where it belongs. This problem starts and ends at home. Sure, we can ask teachers to educate, etc, but that will only last until the first lawsuit from a parent who doesn't want 'nutrition' forced on their child.

    You want to stop these epidemics, then stop coddling everyone. If someone is obese, 95% of the time it's their fault. Tell them it's their fault, their problem, and they have full control over ending it. Giving them excuses only exacerbates the problem.

    "Difficulty is the measure of an excuse." – G. Thomas Hedlund

    February 9, 2010 at 6:06 pm |
  30. shannon

    because people are too lazy to make themselves a fresh cooked meal and hit the drive-thru dollar menu instead. also video games are to blame – get outside!

    February 9, 2010 at 6:06 pm |
  31. Nick, Milwaukee

    I think part of it is agriculture subsidies (and that's a little hard to admit being grampa was a farmer)
    It's hard especially when families feel they're 'just getting by' to spend more money to purchase the healthy food than the inexpensive boxed food that has bunches of bad ingredients in it.
    Portion sizes are another issue, but we wouldn't have the same extent of issues if we all cooked from base ingredients, even a slab of meat and a bunch of fruit on the side would be better than lots of the processed stuff. Portion control wouldn't be *as much* of an issue if all the ingredients were healthier.
    But as a suburban family, I have to admit it's hard justifying paying double to get fresh fruit/veggies/meat that you then have to make into a meal yourself as opposed to a "400degree for 20 minutes" meal in a box.

    February 9, 2010 at 6:07 pm |
  32. Gary : NE PA

    Jack "WE" haven't allowed our children to get fat.Lazy parents,lazy kids made themselves fat.Shut off the games.Get outside and walk around.That worked when "WE" were young .

    February 9, 2010 at 6:07 pm |
  33. Steve Anton

    It begins in the home. Poor parental nutritional education conveyed to their children. The days of thinking that a fat baby or fat child is healthy have long past. The medical evidence is quite clear as to the health issues at stake. It's my opinion, that in many instances, these are clear cases of outright "child abuse". Think about it!

    February 9, 2010 at 6:07 pm |
  34. Nick

    I remember in school have to take the presidents fitness test where we could see how many sit-ups, pull-ups and push-ups we could do, how fast we could run 100 yds, how long we could sit in a ghost chair and other physical tests. I don't know of them doing that anymore because someone's feelings might get hurt but I can tell you most of the kids in my class weren't overweight and the one's that were still prided themselves in what they did accomplish.

    February 9, 2010 at 6:07 pm |
  35. Rachel L. Noller

    It comes back to the parents. Parents have to take the time to educate their kids and be active with them. Parents cannot rely on schools to take care of it all for them. Although the schools do need to do a better job of offering healthier choices for kids to eat.

    February 9, 2010 at 6:07 pm |
  36. Terry Gnsbg,IN

    Jack isn't technology great (?) look what it's done for our youth!

    February 9, 2010 at 6:07 pm |
  37. Joe M

    Jack,

    What do you expect when you raise children in a "super-sized" society. The fastfood industry promotes the super-sizing of people with their menu and many of us are guilty of taking advantage of the low cost high fat food they offer. Then we go home and park our children in front of the T.V/ babysitter and wounder why our kids are getting chubby. C'mon on man! What do you think is going to happen.

    Joe M (Brainerd, Mn)

    February 9, 2010 at 6:08 pm |
  38. Ave

    High fructose corn syrup in Everything? I thought the fact that processed food quality has gone downhill, so full of empty calories over nutrition, was common knowledge. It's not about eating less, it's about eating non garbage food. You're going to end up with a bunch of fat under nourished kids.

    February 9, 2010 at 6:08 pm |
  39. Waldo

    After carefully studying my grandchildren's eating habits, I know the reason. It's the mothers and grandmothers causing the problem. They use sweets, and other food, as a reward for the child's good behavior. Once a child taste sweets, they want them all the time. Also, since most mothers are overweight themselves and always eating, the children are also raised to eat all of the time. Michelle is wasting her time.

    February 9, 2010 at 6:08 pm |
  40. kat

    "We" eat out of a box – most of the so-called food we consume isn't food at all – it's "food product." It's full of sugar, refined/simple carbohydrates, preservatives and little to no nutritional value. It's manufactured, not grown. Our meats and dairy products come from overcrowded farms that produce animals pumped full of growth hormones; ones that are fed with genetically modified grains.

    Not to mention that our society is such that IF there are 2 parents in a household, both of them have to work long hours and neither of them wants to cook wholesome, fresh food – they grab the easiest thing handy – fast food! You can find McDonald's and Coke in any corner of the world!

    NOW mix in endless hours of television, video games and computers (and would people PLEASE stop pretending that Wii Fit is anywhere CLOSE to being exercise! It's a video game that makes kids THINK they can play a sport – but if they ever would try the real thing, they'll realize that there's NOTHING real about a video game!) that babysit the children of our nation, and it's no wonder why we have a bunch of fat kids!

    Our school systems feed the kids absolute crap – full of sodium and sugar, and allow the children to make their own choices about what goes on their plates. Of course a kid is going to choose pizza over green beans! Especially when the green beans are nasty overcooked canned beans that are full of sodium themselves!

    When we were kids, we were kicked out of the house to go play outside, and any kind of fast food or candy bar was a treat, not an everyday snack. 8 ounces of soda was an adult size, not the 16 ounce kids' portion of today. We as children also didn't dictate to our parents and other elders what we were going to do, where we were going to do it and who with. I'M JUST SAYIN'!

    February 9, 2010 at 6:08 pm |
  41. Jeffery

    Jack – Nintendo, Playstation, X-Box, Spongebob Squarepants cartoons running on a 24/7 loop; parents working multiple jobs and using these mediums to occupy their children.

    February 9, 2010 at 6:08 pm |
  42. Neville Aitcheson

    Two words, Jack : Xbox, PS2.

    February 9, 2010 at 6:08 pm |
  43. Chris Seattle

    Is this being done on her own time or under the guise of government. If it is the latter, when did it become the purview of the federal government to monitor obesity in children or anyone else for that matter. It is time to reduce spending by the government not increase it for another social cause. Obesity in children is epidemic, but it is not a government problem it is a parental problem.

    February 9, 2010 at 6:08 pm |
  44. Luke Edmunds

    American Kids are fat because the majority of them are raised in a consuming environment that oozes Gluttony.
    A large percentage of the obese children's parents are also over weight, Apple doesn’t fall far from the tree and they are too lazy to walk over and pick it up too eat it .
    Why bend over and pick up an Apple when you can order a Fat Juicy burger from your Automobile window.
    There are many countries battling starvation but not us we have to battle moderation and Self Will.
    It makes me sick that parents let there kids get this way. If you cant take care of your self you should not be reproducing.
    Why should my tax dollars be spent on controlling one of the seven sins.
    Let them die of heart Disease and Diabetes, remember this is survival of the "fittest".

    February 9, 2010 at 6:08 pm |
  45. Kelly

    How can we expect children to be fit and trim when their parents are obese? Children learn by example.

    February 9, 2010 at 6:09 pm |
  46. Jonpaul

    Nationwide Fat Campaign, invest more money, new calorie labels, – give me a break! Look in the mirror, if you or your kids are fat, "you" do something about it. Hint – Get off your lazy butt, diet and exercise. The Biggest Losers – Our Government and you who let yourself or your kids get obese!

    February 9, 2010 at 6:09 pm |
  47. Terry in Texas

    I'd hazzard to say that it's because of two family wage earners being just too tired after a days work to come home and prepare a healthy dinner, so they hit the fast food places and have a bucket of chicken.

    February 9, 2010 at 6:09 pm |
  48. Anna

    It's simple Jack. Kids don't "PLAY" anymore! They don't entertain themselves playing hide and seek, stick ball, touch football or riding their bikes with other neighborhood kids. Instead entertainment comes from sitting in front of the television, X-Box 360, or the computer. I'm only 28 years old, but I played outside until the sun went down when I was a kid. Kids just don't do that anymore.

    February 9, 2010 at 6:09 pm |
  49. Mark

    The new overly protective and legalistic society is a part of the problem. Playgounds have removed the jungle gyms and monkey bars that kids used to love to play on. Potential injury, and subsequent lawsuits have removed them. I've seen schools with large open property around them for play, but the students are kept in a much smaller fenced in area at recess for their safety. Today low branches on trees are removed so kids cannot climb them. Let them play.

    February 9, 2010 at 6:09 pm |
  50. Alex Winter

    Lazy parents feeding their fat kids McDonalds. See it all the time here in NYC.

    February 9, 2010 at 6:09 pm |
  51. Thomas Michael

    Kids are being raised by T.V.'s, Video games, and the internet....
    all of those make excellent low cost baby-sitters, but make for a sedentary lifestyle.

    February 9, 2010 at 6:09 pm |
  52. jen

    no one takes on a problem until it's "a cause" that promotes self promotion like M.O. Actually I'd like to know what social-economic level the obesity hits first....my thought is Parents have to be accountable and I will be honest I feel very bad for heavy children, followed by heavier parents.

    February 9, 2010 at 6:09 pm |
  53. todd howman

    Jack, to see why the kids are fat one only has to look at the parents. Fat parents have fat kids. People can debate all day long about the cause but it really is quite simple. Unhealthy food and lack of exercise makes you fat (and unhealthy.) I see it every day when I WALK my child to the bus stop. Parents drive their kids up to the stop and sit in the car while it RUNS (heat in the winter, AC in the summer.) I won't even bring up the fast food and super sized soda drinks parents allow their children to consume. It is all about the example we set for our children. If we, as parents, are ok with being fat and unhealthy, then our children will follow suite. Todd from ohio

    February 9, 2010 at 6:10 pm |
  54. Brian - Trinidad

    Very clever phrasing of the question "Why have we allowed...?"In America,and go back as far as you would like to,the vast majority follow trends,and trendiness is set by what is publicised.Today's trendy activity is to sit down,with a huge bag of munchies and a large drink,and watch a screen.Be it TV,computer,cellphone etc.And this sustains our economy,pays for a lot of wages,including yours Jack.Its that simple.

    February 9, 2010 at 6:10 pm |
  55. sdmom22

    As I leave my house to pick up my daughter from school, I'll give you one BIG reason why kids are over weight today.. We will be one of 50 or so parents and kids that will WALK home today. And that's out of 900+ students. So why are they obese, it's simple. Lack of exercise! Couple that with fast/boxed food and helicopter parenting and it's no wonder that number isn't higher. Kids don't go outside to play anymore, their parents don't let them. Too dangerous. Bull pucky! We've turned our children into couch potatoes and then want to blame them! Sad.

    February 9, 2010 at 6:10 pm |
  56. james in Idaho

    Jack, If I was ever in a car wreck, the first problem the Emergency technicians would find is the intrusion of blood into my Dr. Pepper stream. I have been drinking Soda pop for so long in my life [up to, and sometimes beyond, 4_64oz. Double Gulps of soda a day from 7/11, for $1.29 and $0.75 refills], that I don't think I can go more then 3 days without it. Face it. That's a lot of liquidd for $3.54. A fact that is even more attractive when you consider that a half gallon of 100% orange juice is $4.89. What does that mean?
    Translation; Hi everyone, my name is James. I'm living below the poverty line, just barely.... and... I'm an addict.

    February 9, 2010 at 6:10 pm |
  57. Sy

    There are several reasons I can see.
    – Kids don't just "go out and play" anymore. We are so obsessed with kids being kidnapped by weirdos that we keep them locked at home. And what do they do there? Watch TV and play videogames.
    – Availability of snack foods. Your mom doesn't need to spend hours baking sweets, or cooking anymore, they come out of a box or a package.
    – When I was growing up, I had to eat what everybody ate at dinner. If there were vegetables in my plate, I had to finish them before I could leave the table. Now parents can't be bothered to make the effort of making their kids eat anymore, so they get them greasy fast food takeout instead. We have created a whole new category of foods, "kids foods":nachos, corn dogs, greasy pepperoni pizza, etc.

    February 9, 2010 at 6:10 pm |
  58. David Martin

    I think one of the reasons why a lot of our kids are obese is the public schools. Here in Florida we have a choice of what we eat in public schools. When I went to school here in Fl we had Anthony's pizza, a burger joint and so on. Why dont we try to get those kinds of places out of schools and give the kids something healthy. Maybe a salad bar, or a subway. Something healthy. Tell the parents to get there kids off of the couch and go play outside for once like the good old days. I never played playstation (or back in my day nintendo/atari) when I got home from school. I went outside and played with my friends. Lets reach out parents

    David Martin
    Altamonte Springs, FL

    February 9, 2010 at 6:10 pm |
  59. Andrew

    I don't think labeling alone is enough to help. We have to take a second look at the food additives the FDA approved decades ago. Back then, they couldn't do long-term studies. Now we can, so let's have scientists study whether processed foods are as safe as the FDA claimed they are.

    February 9, 2010 at 6:10 pm |
  60. Arthur

    I was an overweight child and as an adult I weighed 338 LBS until I had a gastric bypass a year ago and now I am at 150 LBS. That being said I have a 10 year old son. My wife and I watch what he eats very closely. Because we have insisted he eat good foods he is not over weight and will eat just about anything set in front of him. He prefers his veggies. To meat. Of course he is a child and likes hamburgers, pizza, tacos, etc. But we make these at home where we can control what goes into them. When he has friends over I have noticed the way they eat and what they won’t eat. If I make a meal of roast beef, steamed potatoes, and a salad. Most of them will eat the meat and potatoes and never touch anything green. I think this is because we as parents have not made them try good foods. It is easer to feed them food from the fast food place than cook good foods. The kids eat it and we are done. I have also noticed that all they want to drink is some kind of soft drink. They all say their parents let them have all they want. They will not even try water, juice, or milk. The last thing I have noticed is most of them do not have a set bed time their parents let them stay up to what ever hour they want. Our son has a set bed time for school days and one that is ½ hour longer for weekends. Many of these kids I see in my house are already overweight.

    February 9, 2010 at 6:11 pm |
  61. Gary in OKC

    Jack,

    Have you seen mom and dad lately? There's your answer.

    February 9, 2010 at 6:11 pm |
  62. amo/ca

    Because, the United States of America is a very spoiled society. The less they have to do the better of they think they are. Now I know this does not apply for everyone in the US , but for a good majority.
    It is TV, junk food, more TV or Computer games, no chores, no values are being tought at home and in some schools, It is a shame to watch all of this. I have a 9 year old son, he has to do some physical activity, every day, ad I make sure he eats right. And I am a single disabled Mom, so it is possible.
    Now I can hear some wingnuts already, saying that the white house is trying to tell them what to do, when all it is a well meant campain to get our kids, our future healthier, is that that bad? Laura Bush wanted everyone to read, Nancy did not want them to do drugs, so you see they all had a similar message.

    February 9, 2010 at 6:11 pm |
  63. Rick

    I was an obese child and probably still fall under the obese category today. I was active. I played football, baseball, basketball with friends almost daily. I lifted weights too. It's the food. In the schools, at home, and when we go out to eat. The portions and the quality. I personally stopped eating school lunch for that reason. It's probably the drink too. Pepsi and Coca Cola are NO GOOD but taste great. Put some fruit in front of a kid with some water, then put a cheeseburger with a pepsi right next to that dish, and let's see what they choose. The good money is on the burger.

    February 9, 2010 at 6:12 pm |
  64. gary clifford

    I have gone to several high schools this year for basketball games and what I see is alot of over weight gym teachers and coaches.And what I hear from the kids is this do as i say not as i do doesn't work anymore.If the coach and the gym teacher can't run the track the kids aren't going to even try.How about the people that are slaming the kids for being to fat get out and get in shape so they can show them how it is done.

    February 9, 2010 at 6:13 pm |
  65. Traci

    Yes, Junk Food + TV = Obese Kids – but there are lots of other factors in the equation as well! I remember all the days I spent as kid adventuring around the neighborhood, riding my bike all over, and whatnot. When the streetlights came on, or you heard your ma screaming your name it was time to go home. These days we don't feel safe letting kids play outside hours on end unsupervised. Kids have always eaten junk – I sure did – it's the lack of activity that has had the biggest impact I think. Organized activities are about the only way these days to keep kids moving!

    February 9, 2010 at 6:13 pm |
  66. Kevin Texas

    Video games and computer equipment including Ipods etc. And dont forget that it used to be cheap to eat fruits and veggies...not anymore. Now eating healthy cost more than junk food.

    February 9, 2010 at 6:13 pm |
  67. Suzanne

    Our children are obese because...

    1. Sitting in front of the television instead of doing something physical.
    2. Sitting in front of video games instead of doing something physical.
    3. Sitting in front of computers instead of doing something physical.
    4. And last but not least, while sitting in front of televisions, video games and computers...pigging out on supersized meals (where one burger alone has enough calories for the entire day).
    5. Repeating items 1 through 4 over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over...etc.

    It's not rocket science!

    February 9, 2010 at 6:13 pm |
  68. Norman Grossman

    Human beings are well know to be self-indulgent, focused on immediate rewards and porposefully ignorant of even the most obvious
    facts that support those weaknesses of personal character. Our society spends huge sums on scientific research and giving those results to education and the media. The only effective way of reducing the epidemic of childhood obesity is to treat at the family responsible as child endangerement in the same way that parents are prosecuted for refusing medical treatement for serious health reasons. I'm afraid that the political " theater" of making pronouncemts from the White House and other sources will have little effect. I would rather suggest that doctors should report the parents in the same manner as if they saw physical injuries not explainable by accidental causes. Remember that the future of those obese children will reflect adult diseases that must burden our health costs whether its national health insurance or the present sytem.

    February 9, 2010 at 6:13 pm |
  69. sally

    When was the last time a teenager came around asking if he could shovel your driveway for $20.00. Kids just seem so lazy. In my neighbor hood there are lots of kids, but you never see them out sledding, riding bikes or playing. It's sad.

    February 9, 2010 at 6:13 pm |
  70. steve- virginia beach

    Inadequate parenting. Once upon a time most children had one full-time parent who made them eat what was put in front of them, limited snacks and television, and made them go out and play. Now it seems that parents have been largely reduced to DNA donors who drop the children off at day care to accomodate their two-income lifestyle and who have been indoctrinated to be their children's friend, rather than their parent. And heaven forbid that the kid's DNA donor friends teach discipline other than after-the-fact timeouts. We reap what we sow.

    February 9, 2010 at 6:13 pm |
  71. Michael

    lazy parents = lazy children

    February 9, 2010 at 6:13 pm |
  72. jeff jackson, alabama

    I was in line at a store recently. A mother had
    over $200. of groceries in her basket. The contents
    were made up of cases of pepsi, boxes on boxes of
    twinkie style junkfoods, and one packet of hamburger
    meat. No fruit, no vegetables, no milk, no cereal.
    I would guess her weight at well over 250 lbs.
    She talked about her children with the cashier.
    Why do you think our children are fat , JACK ?!?!?

    February 9, 2010 at 6:14 pm |
  73. Cari M

    Two words: School. Bus. Heck, you can add in "minivan". We don't let our kids walk anymore, let alone ride their bikes. Folks, there is probably no greater percentage of predators out there than when I was a kid – difference is, in today's 24-hour-need-a-headline media, what was handled locally by the police is now blazoned across the world on the internet, so today's parents think there are more bad guys out there. Result? The kids get bussed to school (sometimes stuck on the bus for over an hour each way), then are driven from one lesson or sports activity to another. They get home, they sit in front of a computer or television.

    Solutions? First, get kids back into local schools. Extend the 'no bus' radius past a mile and make it darned near impossible for parents to become substitute school busses. Put sidewalks where there are none – here in the south, we have lots of ditches but not a lot of places where we can safely walk. Parents, grow a spine and limit time in front of television or computer. Give the kids a baseball or bike for Christmas rather than a GameBoy. (And get out there on your own bikes, too!) Buy lots of vegetables and fruits from local producers, that will help bring down prices. And stop obsessing over the Megan's List website, hardly any of the people on it have assaulted kids – I can say from experience that your kid is probably more at risk at Sunday School than outside playing with friends.

    February 9, 2010 at 6:14 pm |
  74. Kathi S

    Because lifestyles have changed. When I was a kid in school we played outside at recess and lunch and had PE at least 3 times a week. When we got home we played outside again, and all weekend and all summer. Staying in the house was a punishment to be avoided at all costs. We were physically active a good part of every day. Our diets were different, soda, chips,candy and cookies were a rare treat and the portions were small. You ate almost all your meals at home and the food was cooked from scratch with less fried and processed foods. Milk was served at every meal or water never soda. Now in most homes both parents work and no one has time to spend 2 hours cooking dinner, schools are afraid of lawsuits if kids fall so no playing in the schoolyard. Budget cuts have taken out PE and a lot of sports programs and parents are so indoctrinated that everyone is out to steal their children that they are not allowed to play outside so they sit at the computer or watch TV. There are a lot of reasons why children and adults are having problems, but no easy answers or quick fixes.

    February 9, 2010 at 6:14 pm |
  75. Thomas Koontz

    In our country we've somehow become hooked on this idea of miracle diests, from Atkins, to Nutrisystem, to the 'glycemic index' and beyond. The biggest problem is that they don't work. If everyone could look like the actors in the commercials for 5-10 dollars a day, we'd have the best looking country by far.
    It all comes down to one of the most simple laws in science, the conservation of energy.
    If you're putting in more carbs than you work off, you will gain weight, if you burn more than you eat, you lose weight. It's a fundamental law we all learned in grade school that somehow gets overlooked in the face of dieting and I'm not sure why.
    Get up and go exercise, don't sit down and eat your chocolate cake from Jenny Craig and wait for the pounds to shed themselves. If you're going to ingest 3000 calories in a day, you'd best be prepared to work that off or deal with gaining weight. My number one tip: Earn what you eat.

    Ridgecrest, CA

    February 9, 2010 at 6:14 pm |
  76. cel

    How about this, when I was a kid, our parents let us go out and play becasue it was safe to do so. It isn't safe anymore, so parents keep their kids indoors where they are safe. HMMMM, could be part of the issue !!!!

    February 9, 2010 at 6:14 pm |
  77. James $

    Packing labels, calorie labels, healthier school lunches, Blah! Blah! Blah!.....

    The issue is what parents are encouraging children to eat out side of school. When there is a Mc D's and Burger King on every corner and a Starbucks at every intersection, how do you expect kids to look?

    They should try adding more Physcial Education classes back into the school curriculum.......

    February 9, 2010 at 6:14 pm |
  78. Susan, CA

    My guess is because when I was young we played outside all day until we had to come home for meals and bedtime. We ran and played all the time. Computers did not exist and TV time was limited to an hour or two before bed.

    We also had stay at home mothers who cooked us healthy meals from fresh ingredients. Now both parents work and come home tired and stressed so it's easier to use fast food type meals.

    February 9, 2010 at 6:14 pm |
  79. Julie Welling

    We've been taking the easy way out and are getting the results. It's much easier to let your kids watch tv, play video games, and snack on ready made foods. Making a fresh home cooked meal takes effort; it's so much easier to go out to eat, order a pizza, or grab some fast food. It's easier to say it's the school system's fault, the doctor's fault, or the government's fault that our kids are overweight. If people would recognize that it's really their responsibility to change their lifestyle, that they really do have the power to make good choices for themselves and their children, then kids would be a lot healthier. Parents, it IS your fault. And you CAN do something about it.

    Springfield, VA

    February 9, 2010 at 6:14 pm |
  80. Jessica

    for one, our children today are not the generation to go play outside, they are raised in front of the television and in front of the computer screen. You also have parents that are either unaware of what they are really feeding their kids or they don't care. Have you ever looked at the ingredients in a hot pocket???? It's downright disgusting how many nitrates are in those things!! Solution: vegetables, and throw your kid outside to play. I am only 23 and I cannot remember an extended period of time when I wasn't outside playing. You can't force people to be good parents, or prevent bad ones from breeding unfortunately.

    February 9, 2010 at 6:15 pm |
  81. Greg, Ontario

    It's a problem that doesn't happen over night. It sneaks up on you and you children. The problem comes from ignoring the obvious. It is so easy to fix and yet we turn a blind eye all in the name of not wanting to hurt the child. It's time we learned how to say no to children and take a more active roll in what they eat.

    February 9, 2010 at 6:15 pm |
  82. Mike in Quebec

    Have you seen the parents? OMG!

    February 9, 2010 at 6:15 pm |
  83. Peter

    Jack

    The answer is simple but unfortunately the fix is probably unlikely.

    People (of all ages) are getting fat because they have been duped into the "low-fat" culture. Look at the biggest aisles in the supermarket and then follow the government subsidies:

    Cereals – wheat farmers
    Soft drinks – corn farmers (corn syrup and high-fructose corn syrup)
    Partially-hydrogenated oils – Soy (genetically modified) farmers

    Next, look who benefits the most from people getting fat and developing diabetes, hypertension, and cardiovascular disease (as well as erectile dysfunction) – Pharmaceutical companies

    Now, look back in time to before this happened: watch any TV show from the 1970's. I challenge you to find any obese people (OK maybe one or two). What did we eat in the those days? "Fatty foods" Whole milk, meat, eggs, bacon.

    Now, come back to the present and look at TV shows. Overweight is the new normal. Skinny people are unusual. Even the guy from the movie '300' is overweight now.

    Until humans go back to what we were meant to eat – meat, nuts, fruits, and vegetables – what is known today as the Paleo (or caveman) diet (and no, I don't have any financial stake in that book or product) the obesity epidemic will never get better.

    Obesity is 80% diet and 20% exercise.

    But there is too much money being made to stop the merry-go-round: "you guys fatten them up, then we'll give them pills."

    As a physician, what I see is alarming. But I am not very optimistic about the future. Telling people to "eat sensibly and exercise" is too little, too late.

    February 9, 2010 at 6:15 pm |
  84. Roy - Chicago

    Jack, as long as advertising dollars fuel TV revenue, and as long as corporations who have made a fortune marketing no-nutrition JUNK sold by cartoon characters and cute mascots to our children continue to market their wares unabated.....what the heck else did anyone expect to happen?
    Our children are fat off of the junk food juggernauts.

    February 9, 2010 at 6:24 pm |
  85. Stan

    Our children are becoming obese because we have almost eliminated physical education classes in K-12. Many school systems around the nation have consolidated, thus eliminating many sports teams that keep our kids active. Our nation has put a premium on computer knowledge and many kids are on computers all day (school & home). Add fast foods for our fast moving econony and what else could you expect but overweight kids.

    February 9, 2010 at 6:24 pm |
  86. shelly

    Jack, To me the answer is simple. I remember having a parent at home. They made sure I didn't raid the refrigerator when I got home from school. They cooked a well balanced meal, where all of us sat down to eat together. They were home all night long to keep me from making the wrong choses about everything, including what I tried to shove in my mouth. Parents don't have that kind of time anymore, they have to work.

    February 9, 2010 at 6:24 pm |
  87. Char

    We are all on the same page.....problem is that those who need to read & heed this advice could care less.

    February 9, 2010 at 6:24 pm |
  88. Sam

    Jack, it's not a tough question. Since after World War II, this country has had the philosophy of consumption consumption consumption. Like Hungry Hungry Hippos, we have literally absorbed resources like they were going out of style to fatten our pocketbooks. This mentality trickles down to our youth, who is one of the biggest consumer demographics. This coupled with the growing gap in relationships between parent and child is a recipe for the glutton our kids have accomplished. According to our actions, the philosophy of Americans is it's always someone else's fault or responsibility.

    February 9, 2010 at 6:24 pm |
  89. A. Scammel

    How about growth hormones in the food? The food is packed with growth hormones, to get it to market fast and plump; why wouldn't the growth hormes stay in the food and impact the "top predator" in the chain (that fat kid over there)?

    February 9, 2010 at 6:24 pm |
  90. Sandy Kayser

    It's the economy stupid. Unlike the 1950's and 60's, most mothers have to work to support their families. These mothers are over worked and too tired to prepare healthy meals, they take the fastest and most convenient way to feed their kids, fast food and processed foods. If more mothers could afford to stay home and raise their kids there would be fewer obese kids and less violence in kids, as well as better educated children.

    February 9, 2010 at 6:25 pm |
  91. gm

    I think parents And children are just too busy to sit down and eat a home cooked meal. When we were young most women didn't work and had time to cook dinner for their families. Children weren't involved in so many activities. They don't have time to sit down for dinner anymore. In addition, when we were young, we didn't have computers. Our spare time was spent outside playing with friends. Children spend an inordinate amount of time these days in front of the computer or TV. I think the "Let's Move" campaign is an excellent idea!

    February 9, 2010 at 6:25 pm |
  92. Jean Quinlan

    Back when I was a kid we played outside for hours all summer and after school. We had no organized sports or adults around, just us climbing trees, playing tag, running around and having fun. At school recess we jumped rope, played running games and yes, dodgeball! We had no computers or other devices to keep us seated and inactive, just books, but our moms chased us out to play whenever weather permitted. Most of us walked to school if we lived within a mile or two. Of course those were the days when parents were not terrified of molesters, as they are now. We had gardens and fresh veggies and no store-bought snacks. Looking back at old yearbooks, no one in my class of '58 was obese! It's idleness and inactivity that are the main culprits, in my book.

    February 9, 2010 at 6:25 pm |
  93. Eric (Medford, OR)

    The same reason why over one-third of are adults drive an automobile that is far larger than they need, comfort. As a caveat to that; what parent is going to cook for their child, as busy as we are today, when Mac/Cheese in a box is so easy and filling and quick to make? My hat is off to the First Lady, but good luck. This is not about changing labels or kicking your kid off the couch once and awhile, this is about fundamentally changing the "culture" of our society, and that can take generations to fix.

    February 9, 2010 at 6:25 pm |
  94. Cher in Canada

    I don't think parents have "allowed" kids to get obese, I believe that with the dissolving of the family unit as it used to be, many problems have developed, sadly, with our kids. They are left alone far too much to make their own choices regarding Food, Hobbies, after school activities, friends, school work, and other things that a parent used to be around to help them learn. Our "I want it now" society has led to both parents having to work to keep up with the "jone's" mentality, living beyond our means so we can't raise our kids ourselves, instead depending on their peers, teachers, and siblings to do this. So, we have lost the home cooked family meals (and I mean fresh food coooked, not a ready cooked meal that you head up in the overn).

    February 9, 2010 at 6:25 pm |
  95. Robert

    What business is it of the Government what is in my food basket?
    According to the Constitution, I am free to purchase what ever food I want and can afford. We do live in a free country ... don't we? I agree it is a good idea to 'encourage' everyone to eat properly (eat your vegetables), and to exercise. But just how far the powers to be should be allowed to 'encourage' me ... I just might draw the line and say it is their of your business.

    February 9, 2010 at 6:25 pm |
  96. David

    Because so many parents are stupid and lazy. Its very simple. And parents play the same game they always do. Its the governments fault, the teachers fault, the video games fault, hollywoods fault, its the TV's fault, its advertisings fault, blah blah blah blah blah.... If you didn't want to raise the kids, don't have them. Simple as that.

    February 9, 2010 at 6:25 pm |
  97. Ed from California

    Ah,the royal we. "We" don't drive our kids to a fast food joint for our nightly dinner, you and Wolf obviously do. Television is our downfall, kids really don't read, they all watch TV. And, what's on TV? Junk food commercials. My own Grand kid doesn't eat at school, either the food is awful or the line to buy the lunch ticket is too long, then the line to get the food is equally as long. And, the lunch period is too short, it's a half hour. So she doesn't eat. So, when I pick her up, she's starving. Bring a brown bag lunch, are you kidding. The boy's and some girl's make fun of the brown baggers. Peer pressure from "our" children or future inmates is totally out of hand, and it needs to be stopped. Well, I guess that's why "we" have prisons, to house "our" children. And guess what ? Prisons sell junk food.

    February 9, 2010 at 6:25 pm |
  98. kenneth, dover, de

    I have no influence over others kids food and exercise habits. Parents need to take the blame not me. Michele could set a better example by going on a diet and exercise program herself. I would rather see the first lady do more to help homeless, and exploited children myself.

    February 9, 2010 at 6:25 pm |
  99. Ed Ingram

    Hi Jack: I see the answer all the time, a 500 pound father, and a 400 pound mother; how can you expect to see a skinny kid?

    Ed from Tombstone, Arizona: 'The Town To Tough To Die'

    February 9, 2010 at 6:25 pm |
  100. Jack Goldstone

    Apparently, most parents havn't gotten the message about the dangers of obecity. The problem seems to lie more among the lower income levels.
    Memories of insufficient funds to enjoy the junk foods effect their thinking that theirchildren can have it all.
    It seems the fat brats are the result of the fat heads. Educate these folks about the dangers loud and clear with conining messages on TV where they are watching most of the time.

    February 9, 2010 at 6:25 pm |
  101. GAS

    This obesity trend started when required daily 1hr physical education was removed and set up as an elective in class schedule structure. Mandated physical activity is a must for all public school systems if obesity is to trend back the other way.

    February 9, 2010 at 6:25 pm |
  102. manuel in columbus, ga.

    Kids are FAT nowadays because parents can't seem to find the power to tell their children NO when it comes to snacking or eating junk. Not to mention the fact that video games keep children on their butts instead of on their feet. If parents actually take the time to really look out for their childrens best interests instead of just passing the buck to the schools maybe our children will become healthier. Remember the people MOST responsible for a child's health are the parents not the system. Just imagine healthier kids can equal lower healthcare costs, wouldn't that be something!

    February 9, 2010 at 6:25 pm |
  103. Laura

    Kids are so fat today because there isn't an adult in the household who does meals and housekeeping as a full-time job in but a few homes. Most of the kids in those homes aren't obese. I observed this when my kids were growing up in the 80's and 90's. The wealthier suburbs produced leaner, smaller football teams, too. Mom doesn't have time to dwell on the food value and caloric content of meals in lower to middle class homes. Everybody is lucky to get fed. Fast food is dinner more nights than not. On the nights it is not, Mom has to compete with pizza and McDonald's for taste, which means lots of salt, fat, and sugar. I see very few kids opting for the apples and dip over fries when I go for a salad at McDonald's. And the cookies and sundaes seem to go better than the yogurt, too.

    February 9, 2010 at 6:25 pm |
  104. Brent

    Monkey see, monkey do!

    Given adult obesity rates in the US, is it any surprise children are also overweight?

    Brent
    Dallas, TX

    February 9, 2010 at 6:26 pm |
  105. Greg Foster, Birmngham, AL

    Jack, I wish the first lady well in her efforts but I am not surprised that kids are going to heck in a doughnut filled hand basket these days.

    After all, because too many states and local governments don't adequately fund schools they have had to cut back and/or compleltey elimnate what once called "P.E.". So, if the First Lady want to start a national initiative to help kids get in shape – tell her to look no farther than dusting-off what worked pretty-well years ago: Play period for the elementary kids and P.E. for the older kids.

    And don;t get me started on the amount of time kids spend on electronic devices and wasting thier time blogging – as if blogging solves many problems ( ooops! Sorry about that, Jack.)

    February 9, 2010 at 6:26 pm |
  106. Linda Secrist

    Parents buy groceries, kids do not. They will eat what is available to them. How many parents are overweight and setting bad examples?

    February 9, 2010 at 6:26 pm |
  107. Jeremy

    One word, convenience. Everyone knows that nasty fast food burger isn't good for you. But its right there on every corner and costs $.99. Americans are constantly on the prowl for cheap. Sometimes it's better to spend a little more. Especially when you're dealing with... oh I don't know... your KIDS!

    Quit blaming everyone else. It's the parents. Blame the industry? how bout choke it out by not feeding it your cash. YOU (parents) are the problem.

    February 9, 2010 at 6:26 pm |
  108. Bennett

    Because cheap corn and other commodities, whose price is subsidized by laws written by farm-state lawmakers, corrupt the content of our food. It's cheaper to eat bad food than good food, and advertising teaches us to eat sweet, empty calories. As long as corn is cheap, we will be fat. Soda (high fructose corn syrup) is cheaper than juice or milk. Big Macs (meat from cattle raised on corn, buns from subsidized, processed wheat) are cheaper than broccoli.

    February 9, 2010 at 6:26 pm |
  109. Marianne Gray

    One third of our children are overweight because American's have a history of not valuing our children let alone its' citizens. As long as profit trumps common sense and we continue to have no ethics when it comes to the welfare of our people we will continue to kill ourselves for fools gold.

    Marianne
    Richmond, VA

    February 9, 2010 at 6:26 pm |
  110. linda glenn

    kids need to go outside more!1

    February 9, 2010 at 6:26 pm |
  111. Bill

    I have cafeteria duty everyday. I see kids throw food into the garbage cans and keep the fat content items.

    February 9, 2010 at 6:26 pm |
  112. Chris in Philadelphia

    Why are we suprised that there are so many fat children? At least as many adults are obese too. What is the old adage like father like son?

    February 9, 2010 at 6:26 pm |
  113. sam young

    several reasons (in no particular order)
    * we're too afraid of kidnappers to let our kids play outside
    * if both parents work, there's nobody else at home to encourage kids to be active
    * parents are lazy and are too willing to let TV/nintendo/playstation act as babysitter
    * poor nutrition habits, reinforced by the fact that healthy food takes time to cook, time that some families don't have in abundance
    * more poor nutrition habits, further reinforced by relentless marketing of junk food toward kids
    * yet even more poor nutrition habits: for generations, we've been taught to eat too many carbs and meats, and not enough vegetables. the food-group pyramid needs to be flipped upside down
    * healthy food - fresh fruits and veggies, whole grains, lean meats - generally cost more than processed corn products and fatty meats, takes more time to prepare, and has a shorter shelf life

    February 9, 2010 at 6:26 pm |
  114. h graham

    It's great that First Lady is embarking on Let's Move. Bringing attention to this problem is great and I feel it will be successful.

    February 9, 2010 at 6:27 pm |
  115. RyGuy

    It is called processed foods. This is the first generation of children that were created by the fast food nation. Bagged, boxed, or canned. Plus million and one media outlets and entertainment sources. Kids are lazy, parents are lazy, school systems are lazy, etc. Americans are lazy people. Go for a jog and do sit ups before starting the day.

    February 9, 2010 at 6:27 pm |
  116. Norma

    Kids don't go out to play until the street lights come on anymore. Why? Predators.

    February 9, 2010 at 6:27 pm |
  117. Gary - Woodhaven, Michigan

    Do you recall when we were kids Jack? We headed outside first thing in the morning, played football in the street, baseball at the closest field or parking lot, basketball in the driveway, rode bikes to God knows where, and built snow forts and had snowball fights, all until the street lights came on or our parents called us in for the night.

    Every summer I am amazed as I take my daily walk that I do not see any kids out playing, not one, all summer long. It is time for not only the kids to get off of their rear ends, but the parents also. No more justifications, no more endless hours on the t.v. or latest computer game, it is up to the parents to kick their butts outside. It's about living Jack, not just existing.

    February 9, 2010 at 6:27 pm |
  118. Ron

    Child obesity is just another symptom of the state of our Union. We want to be lazy and stupid, because it's easier than being active and intelligent. We have turned to anti-intellectuals like Palin, Beck and Limbaugh to tell us what we are doing is right. We want to avoid tightening our belts, so we expand our debt ceiling and buy more junk. We want to enjoy our giant flat screen HDTV, eat our microwaved synthetic food, and generally enjoy a life of leisure, so we do, and one little fall out from that decision is that we let our kids sit and play video games, eat food only from the four food groups - junk, fat, frozen and fried - and do whatever they want, so long as they shut up and leave us alone.

    February 9, 2010 at 6:27 pm |
  119. Ray

    The impact of all types of electronic entertainment is overwhelming. It was pretty easy in my day to put down the pong game on a BW TV and explore the real world outside. I set a timer at home for all the children under 18. It is set for one hour of use and then one hour away from all video imaging devices. It's sometimes tough to do with all the other things that need my attention.

    February 9, 2010 at 6:27 pm |
  120. ralph rodriguez

    Jack,

    The reason for all these obese kids can be summed up in three words – Greed, Laziness and Deregulation.

    1. Greedy Manufacturers find cheaper, unhealthy alternatives to make their products.

    2. Lazy parents that don't care or participate enough in the lives of their kids to provide them with the necessary discipline to make smart, healthy choices.

    3. Lack of responsible governmental over sight – directly due to the aforementioned reasons.

    Let’s also not forget how complacent today's youth is – in my day you either ate what your parents hard work provided, or you didn’t eat at all.
    Ralph Rodriguez
    Brooklyn NY.

    February 9, 2010 at 6:27 pm |
  121. Chris

    I put this down as four major factors:

    1. Kids don't have the freedom to run around like previous generations. I'm 33 and when I was as young as 5 years old we ran around our neighborhood unsupervised all day after getting home from school doing things like exploring, riding bikes, playing tag games, making snow forts – all very good exercise. Now parents are too scared to allow their kids to do these things.

    2. Lack of eating restrictions by parents for their kids. When I was young we never had a lot of junk food around the house, rarely pop (soda), and we always had to ask before we could eat anything. Now I see kids having unsupervised access to unhealthy food and beverages all the time.

    3. Video games. Enough said.

    4. Excessive homework for younger and younger kids. A parent I know recently told me her 11 year old son had three hours of homework a night. I rarely ever did homework all the way through high school and I still got a 32 on my first crack at the ACT. Physical activity stimulates the brain and improves focus and is just as important to learning as actual study time. When we bog our kids down with homework, they can't be out running around.

    February 9, 2010 at 6:27 pm |
  122. Susan Squires

    Parents need to kick the kids outside and turn off the TV and computer.Stop the junk food express and take control of what's happening in there own house.I admire our First Lady for effert but she can't do it alone. New Port Richey Fl.

    February 9, 2010 at 6:27 pm |
  123. Gigi Oregon

    That is an easy question for me having been a stay at home mom. I prepared well balanced meals on a tight budget. They ate good but not always what they wanted. They married had children and decided they both needed to work. McDonald's, Burger king, Taco Bell, KC, and Grandmas old fashioned cooking, which the children turned their noses up too, became the suppers. Danishes for breakfast which could be eaten in the car on the way to school or the baby sitters. School lunches (3 starches and milk) became the mid day meal.

    The only reason they had to work was to eat out, work travel expense, suitable clothing for their job, and toys for the kids (they have more play things than their parents and grandparents totaled. Are granddaughter sent her husband to pick up her two kids this week and the 5 year was so upset because she had promised to pick him up. It was all I could do not to cry as he repeatedly cried she promised, she promised...it would have driven me to want a donut, or two, if there had been one in the house. Food is mostly eaten for comfort when we become obese.

    How you going to get a kid to eat a carrot stick in place of a milkshake. Good Luck

    February 9, 2010 at 6:28 pm |
  124. Ed Strobl

    After 9 years of public high school teaching and observing cafeteria operations, I would have to pinpoint diet as a producer of body fat in our student population, A study of education "reforms" (No Child Left Behind Act) is one example, while well intentioned, have required schools educating students at the poverty level, to provide not just one luncheon meal, but breakfast as well. As long as schools contract out through the public bidding process, there will be low bidders who consider starches and sugars a quick and cheap solution to business profits. That means our children are fed from the bottom of the nutrients'
    pyramid. Thank you for listening. Waterloo, Iowa

    February 9, 2010 at 6:28 pm |
  125. Lisa

    Children can still go out and play even if their parents are afraid of pedophiles etc. The catch is that parents themselves would have to get off the couch and actually supervise/participate outside with their children. And walk their children to school if they are so afraid of them being kidnapped.

    February 9, 2010 at 6:28 pm |
  126. Deb Rowland-Washington

    Because no one new how much High-fructose corn syrup was being used in the products we buy. This substance is not harmful in small amounts, but, it's in everything. So we consume large amount of High-fructose corn syrup. High-fructose corn syrup can cause diabetes if used in large amounts. It amazes me that no news agency is not investigating this by product.

    February 9, 2010 at 6:28 pm |
  127. Bob R

    high yield fructose

    February 9, 2010 at 6:28 pm |
  128. Mark

    I will tell you why. Quick and convenient marketing and FAST FOOD DRIVE THRU WINDOWS. Go to Alaska, VERY few overweight people. Because there are hardly any drive thru's and fast food options available. Also, they eat a lot of fish NOT fried in batter. In Appalachia and the midwest, there are McDonald's and Wendy's everywhere. Used to be that you only got gas or maybe a bottle of Coke at a gas station. Now every gas station sells beer, candy, cheap microwavable junk, Red Bull, you name it. If it is crap and can be eaten in a car, people will buy it. Americans have grown weak when there is availability of cheap quick food. When it is all said and done, McDonald's and Wendy's kill and ruin the healths of a lot more people than the tobacco companies do. Of course, they only make the means of our demise, they don't force us to consume it. They don't have to.

    February 9, 2010 at 6:28 pm |
  129. Joyce Madison

    I think the reason is two-fold.
    1. The price of food – is high and it is cheaper to eat fast food.
    2. Not enough time- Parents don't take the time to prepare healthy meals (ie they did when I was growig up) because parents are busy with their jobs and trying to keep up with all the activities their kids are involved in.......

    Mpho
    Gahanna, Ohio

    February 9, 2010 at 6:28 pm |
  130. Stephen Wilson

    My doctor told me 10 years ago the two main reasons for the obesity epidemic.

    #1: The "Food Pyramid" – The standard "healthy diet that was promoted for decades puts carbohydrates as the basis for the daily diet. The flaw in the logic, he said, is that everyone is getting regular exercise. His words to me: "You'd have to be an Olympic athlete in training to burn that much carb in your diet" and nearly no one is exercising to the extend required to utilize the carb heavy intake recommended by that basic food plan.

    #2: Portion sizes. He pointed out that the typical helping of rice on a family dinner plate or in a restaurant is often four times the size of that used for determining caloric content and dietary requirements. You can multiply this for all sorts of foods.

    February 9, 2010 at 6:28 pm |
  131. Chris W

    Jack, the problem is much more complex than just Nintendo, X Box, Playstation, we need to look at the so called foods we are feeding these kids, with all of the chemicals we allow, High Fructose Corn Syrups, What ever happened to plain old Cane Sugar? MSG (which is often labeled natural ingredients, when there is NOTHING natural about it, Preservatives, Sodium phosphates all that junk. Our bodies are not chemical treatment plants, as the FDA, Big Pharma, would like for us to believe

    February 9, 2010 at 6:29 pm |
  132. Galoux in Bloomington, IN

    To the lady who asked when the last time was a kid came around to shovel your driveway, my answer is "two of them, one hour ago, for $8." Alas, I had indeed thought such children extinct. I live in a quiet fifties suburb, and sometimes I see kids outside around here, but by and large, especially in the newer and more affluent 'burbs, I never see kids running around in the spring and summer, let alone out raking leaves in fall or building snow forts in winter. It's just quiet and weird. Kids are definitely not out getting exercise. While this is upsetting, to the man who wants to start charging parents with child endangerment for obese kids, for heaven's sake, NO! The last thing this country needs is yet more legislation telling individuals and families what do do because of health care costs. Sheesh!

    February 9, 2010 at 6:29 pm |
  133. Sean

    Jack,

    It's downright laziness on behalf of parents and adults. It's much easier to cook junior a frozen pizza puff in the microwave and hand him a can of soda than it is to make him a turkey a sandwhich and pour him a glass of milk. The corporations have pumped all kinds of chemicals into the pizza puff to make sure it can remain edible after being frozen for several years with little regard for junior's waistline. It's up to the adults to fix things, but they are setting a horrible example....and not just with their diets.

    February 9, 2010 at 6:29 pm |
  134. Robert Mears

    I call it digital fat. The parents just give them the the newest phone. This makes kids happy, get out of mom and dads way, and into the bedroom to text, surf, and watch DVD's. Without mom and dad this is a complete waste of effort. Bob in Arizona

    February 9, 2010 at 6:29 pm |
  135. Susan B.

    We've allowed our youth to become obese because we've let society become obese. It's not just the youth, look around, it's everyone. Our society is obsessed with instant gratification, we can get food on demand, tv is everywhere, computers are everywhere, we have Internet on our phones, we don't need to have our children go out and play because they can keep themselves busy with gaming consoles. We have all of these campaigns for the children, but what about their role models? Their home life? It's more than just the school food, it's how they are eating at home, how they are staying active at home. Even with interactive consoles like the Wii, they aren't getting the exercise they need to be healthy, especially with the typical American fast food diet. Fat is the new healthy, and the healthy have become the skinny.

    I live in Colorado, the thinnest state (With about 16.8% of the population being obese, but this is changing as we are getting a large amount of people moving here) and maybe it's just the attitude here, but it's not hard to stay fit. It's not hard to find an activity that a child will enjoy, a friend to play with, a sports team, a studio to join, a bike to ride or taking a walk with the family. It starts with the parents, if we can change our habits, it'll carry down to them.

    February 9, 2010 at 6:30 pm |
  136. Robin Baker

    The short answer is that there was BIG money to be made in creating and prominently putting forward (through heavy advertising) the activities and conveniences that have led to the curret predicament.

    For example:

    1) The availability (on every corner in some neighborhoods) of fast food restaurants;
    2) The explosive growth of "gaming" electronically versus actually, physically going outside to play;
    3) TV, TV, TV... so many stations, so little time.

    The actual success of this planned exploitation is more complex, however, and required the passiviity or ignorance of parents who were complicit in the adoption of the bad habits that have resulted in the unfortunate decline of their and their children's health.

    February 9, 2010 at 6:30 pm |
  137. Deric in Philly

    Jack,
    It's pretty clear, technology is to blame!

    Whether it's surfing the internet, downloading itunes, or playing video games, they all have one thing in common; sitting on your butt!

    Gone are the days of kick-the-can, shooting bb guns, and throwing dirtbombs at the neighborhood girls!

    February 9, 2010 at 6:30 pm |
  138. Pat

    Jack,

    My husband and I are quite active and, as a result, easily maintain low body weights. So, it's no surprise that our teenage kids are also active and maintain healthy body weights.

    Unfortunately, many, if not most adult Americans are overweight or obese and totally unhealthy... just look at our national health care costs! Maybe we should lay off our kids and start looking at the example we set for them.

    February 9, 2010 at 6:30 pm |
  139. Sue

    I second limited parenting: how many of us grew up in homes where items like snacks, potato chips, sodas and candy were limited? And if we got snacks, potato chips and soda and candy, it was in a limited quantity, like it or not.

    Kids also aren't getting enough exercise - blame this on texting, cell phones and simply not being as active as kids once were.

    February 9, 2010 at 6:30 pm |
  140. LR

    The solution is as old as the hills, but people want something that tastes better or has cool packaging. It's amazing how much time and money is spent on delusional "solutions." Whole food, exercise, no worries, that's it. Be realistic, folks, and stop feeding the diet industry, which is completely unecessary.

    February 9, 2010 at 6:30 pm |
  141. William Grenwell

    the mentality that has allowed our children to be obese is the same mentality that has the adults in a credit crunch up to their eyeballs. We have allow the corporate consumerism syndrome rule our lives for the past 30 yrs and now we and our children are paying for it. We
    keep yelling at washington to fix it when in reaity we are our own worst enemy.

    February 9, 2010 at 6:30 pm |
  142. frank

    Fast food. When I was a kid, being fat was the exception, only for kids that were huge to begin with. And cooking was done with cans of Crisco. remember that? keeping bacon grease in the fridge in a jar. We ate at home. Sometimes we'd go out but we'd get vegetables with all the meals. Now its hard to find veggies on the menu. They're a side order for an extra $2 at dinner. Ditto portion sizes. Do we really need 32 ounces of a soft drink, or more? Used to be 12 ounces was a large.

    We have become a nation of slobs.

    February 9, 2010 at 6:30 pm |
  143. Cesario from Guam

    Michelle Obama's campaign has been done over and over again.

    just slapping their wrist and say eat healthy won't change a person's lifestyle immediately. it usually takes a dramatic turn of events that forces the person to do so, even with that, too few take their obesity seriously.

    people know that many certain foods are bad for us, we are bombarded by those messages daily, but since it just tastes so good, the indulgence outweighs the danger.

    obesity in America is a runaway effect, nothing can mitigate or stop it now, just when they grow up they will put such a heavy burden on the medical system.

    February 9, 2010 at 6:30 pm |
  144. Anne

    Children are no longer safe in our parks. They are no longer safe even in their own yards unless supervised. Familes increasingly rely on two incomes, working parents have less time to hang out at the local park with their kids. TV, computers, and videogames make it easier to be entertained without having to work for it. Fast food offers a ton of calories and little nutrition. All these combine to create a perfect storm in childhood obesity. Step one: create a safe place for children to be children in the out of doors. Please!

    February 9, 2010 at 6:31 pm |
  145. Bill

    I have cafeteria duty everyday. I see kids throw food into the garbage cans and keep the fat content items. Perhaps Health classes are in order. . .

    February 9, 2010 at 6:31 pm |
  146. Jared

    Junk Food + Electronics. Kids these days are tied to cell phones, ipods, and computers. Heck, adults are too. Ever go out to a bar and notice rather than socialize half the people there are trying to get an iPhone tan?

    When you eat nothing but trash and spend all your time sitting around playing with electronic devices you get fat. I speak from experience. As much as kids hate to eat healthy it's the parent's job to force them to eat healthy food and not stock their fridge with crap. Until they get a job and a car they're entirely at their parent's mercy when it comes to food.

    Children have to be raised. They don't come shipped from the baby factory with nutritional analysis software and good habits installed.

    February 9, 2010 at 6:32 pm |
  147. Wayne

    Recess was an important part of the curriculum when I was in elementary school in the 70s. We also played outside a lot in our neighborhoods. Today, exercise is barely visible in education. And parents are too afraid to let their kids go outside, whether the neighborhood is safe or not. And every house seems to have multiple TVs and video games that encourage our couch potato tendencies. Add to that, the cheapest foods are the worst for you. Why would we expect something different?

    February 9, 2010 at 6:32 pm |
  148. Scott Patrick Humphrey

    Look at the food supply, Jack. The food the government subsidizes along with the industrial food revolution have poisoned our food. High amounts of sugar in the form of high fructose corn syrup, salt and fat content, along with the synthetic chemical additives have made our food about as healthy and nutritious as eating a plastic bag. And we once again get this arbitrary symbolic good measure from the man "in charge". This is apparent to many, but not nearly enough thanks to the marketing wizards who pump out ads convincing the American public that Uncle Henry and Auntie Em's farm is still producing that wholesome down home nutritious food. Wake up America. Corporatism is killing us.

    February 9, 2010 at 6:32 pm |
  149. Tom from Durham, New Hampshire

    The same way we let other things affecting our children get off the rails – by calling into the TV room and asking Johnny what he would like, rather than spending quality time with him and educating him as to what's good for him.

    If given that choice, I'd probably have been raised on chocolate cake and weigh 450 lbs today. Get Johnny's attention. You may have to get creative and text him.

    February 9, 2010 at 6:32 pm |
  150. Trey

    Jack, I think we have a bigger problem with children starving and not getting enough to eat than we do with those that have eaten beyond their means.

    Trey
    Charleston SC

    February 9, 2010 at 6:32 pm |
  151. Katherine Riebe

    Fast foods, lack of exercise, too much computer and television time are the main causes of obesity for overweight children. First thing we ought to do is ban McDonalds, Taco Bells, Pizza Huts and Buger Kings. These kinds of fast food restaurants need to go away. Let's replace the workers who are employed at these places to work for Green energy companies. That would make a world of difference. Next, we need to build 24-Hour Fitness or Gold Gyms centers around the country geared towards children. This way parents can drop them off at the gym and let them workout for an hour or more. Finally, grocery stores need to promote healthy eating and stop stocking their shelves with junk food. Replace shelves with better food choices. Does it sound impossible to do? Well not if we, as a Nation, want to shape up and smarten up. The way our economy has evolved has been based on making profits at the detriment of not giving a hoot about our children's health or even parents health. We NEED change in this country when it comes to eating.

    February 9, 2010 at 6:32 pm |
  152. Chris Thorpe, springfield, MO

    Even the best intentioned parents are feeding their children loads of hidden sugar. Look at the sugar grams in diet drinks, non-fat or low-fat food–even skim milk. Read the nutrition labels–shocking. we have not been educated about all the sugar we are consuming that is stored as fat. Our bodies are not designed to cope with all that sugar, storing it as belly fat and packed on pounds. Let"s say "no" to sugar and send a message to the food manufacturers to quit loading so called non-fat foods with the real culprit–sugars. It would be a start to lower weight and certainly reduce the risk for diabetes, hypertension and give our kids–and their parents- the precious gift of a healthy life.

    February 9, 2010 at 6:32 pm |
  153. Greg

    This is a dumb question: Why have we allowed 1/3 of children to become overweight?

    Because there are no parents in the home when the kids come back from school.

    They partake in fast food, video games, sex, and drugs.

    Again, real stupid question. Whatever happened to common sense?

    Peace.

    February 9, 2010 at 6:32 pm |
  154. Zee

    Many seem to agree with me that technology is eating up most of the kids' play time. They can have their own virtual reality in an electronic box for God's sake. Parents who want to give their children what they never had is both a gift and a curse, and that's the source of the epidemic of the 21st century along with franchising economically-attractive fast-food restaurants; it's simply a side effect of the ensuing demographic transition model Jack!

    February 9, 2010 at 6:32 pm |
  155. lynn

    Character flaw, huh? Name calling and badgering will prove to be a very effective tool. Kids are constantly bombarded with impossible images of beauty and targeted by those who make a very good living off of little, fat kids. Why not teach them they are wonderful no matter how they look? I'm sure beating them over the head with it will make it all better, not send them running and screaming for another cookie....

    February 9, 2010 at 6:33 pm |
  156. Margaret

    I'll answer a question with a question. Why do fresh vegetables and fruits cost more than processed fat producing foods? Follow the money.

    February 9, 2010 at 6:33 pm |
  157. Chryssa

    More and more people can't afford to eat healthy, Jack. Compare a gallon of milk with a 2-liter bottle of soda, or a loaf of white bread to a loaf of whole wheat bread, or a five-dollar Subway sandwich to a 99-cent bacon cheeseburger. Cheap food wins and America gets fatter.

    Boise, ID

    February 9, 2010 at 6:33 pm |
  158. teryy goldstein chesapeake beach,md.

    As a retired PE and health educator,the answer to your question is test scores. Lack of school PE is only part of the obesity problem,but as long as test scores improve,then county,state and federal dollars keep rolling in to school districts. Yes,the students learn to test well under pressure,but at what cost? Nobody cares. I wish Mrs.Obama luck in bring the obesity issues to light. The food consumption of poor choices,poor nutritional instruction,failure of the FDA to crack down on artificial food- like products and chemical additives(nitries,sweeteners,colorings,gmo's and flavorings) are all contributors. Schools and communities should require better involvement in the physical child,not just the intellectual child. More parks,organized required after-school programs will all help to allieviate this sickness.

    February 9, 2010 at 6:33 pm |
  159. Boomer

    It's great Jack how this notion arises when half the country is covered in snow and freezing temperatures. I'd write more but I have to stop at McDonalds on the way to the kids swim practice...

    February 9, 2010 at 6:33 pm |
  160. Wayne from WV

    It should be obvious why...... computers, video games, cellphones, school vending machines loaded with junk foods/drinks, and the reduction/elimination of funding (and the subsequent lack of importance) for Physical Education programs in schools, especially at the elementary & middle school levels.

    Add to this parents' ill-fated desires to constantly keep up with the Jones's and work 3 jobs each (leaving their children home alone or with sitters) just to provide their children with anything and everything that every other child has......

    MOST kids nowadays expect EVERYTHING to be handed to them on a silver platter and think they shouldnt have do a damned thing to get it.

    February 9, 2010 at 6:33 pm |
  161. vanbarbee

    Mike in Greeley, CO

    Jack, the schools don't have any choice. They have been forced to cut funding for everything from health education, to gym, to their own lunchrooms. My high school (04'-08') had Domino's and Chick Fillet deliver lunch. Thank god they could afford the health and gym programs, but then again, we we're in the better part of town. That along with the pressures we put on our kids today make the entire system built to fail. I say, drop No Child as a failure and throw a little of that military or health spending into paying teachers and maintaining these essential programs.

    We gotta compete with China and India people! Their diets are SO much better than ours! Come on!

    February 9, 2010 at 6:34 pm |
  162. Eiolg

    Eating more than what is burned off equal weight gain. Parents drive kids everywhere. Food is EVERYWHERE and served for EVERY EVENT.
    But until I visited Africa and saw that it took a long time to cook food from scratch, I didn't realize that one of the biggest causes of eating too much is that food is way to easy to obtain in edible form from the stores. I can buy almost anything in frozen or packaged form that takes 10 minutes or less to make it into my mouth. I don't even have to expend calories to get my food ready. I can stuff my face at any kind of twinge of hunger or pain or depression or sadness, or loneliness, etc. I don't have to work at all to get food ready. And sometimes I do take these shortcuts, but usually I make real food from real ingredients. Tastes better and is better for me. Less sugar and less salt. I'm not overweight, but almost so. (BMI less than 25).

    February 9, 2010 at 6:34 pm |
  163. OETKB

    Computers/ games/ipods/iphones vs. bikes and the outdoors. While the electronic age impacts out lives, most other countries still walk or bike to work, lunch, school and home. Urban sprawl makes the pedestrian life impractical, especially in very hot or cold areas and especially when we do not have mass transit which would require more activity than in and out of the car.

    February 9, 2010 at 6:34 pm |
  164. Steve from Temecula, California

    It is an increasingly dangerous world, Jack. When we were kids, it was home from school and out to play. And we played every sport we could think of and even invented some new ones just for the novelty of it all. The past 30 years has seen an alarming rise in what we must call sickness and depravity. Children have become prey for the insane who stalk our schools, parks, shopping malls, and even our churches looking for their next victim. This has seeped into the consciousness of every parent. Today, kids are put into organized and supervised activities where they are watched and monitored. Otherwise, they are allowed to remain home and vegetate in front of the TV, computer, or video game. Ms. Obama can't really do much to solve this problem. The illness that afflicts this society is so entrenched and pervasive that it may not be possible to return it to the Pandora's box the opening of which so many warned against and were ignored.

    February 9, 2010 at 6:35 pm |
  165. katiec Pekin, IL

    I have a great granddaughter who is growing up on chicken nuggets, french fries, macroni and cheese and pizza. She can, at three, name every fast food resturant you pass.
    It is impossible to try and get her to eat any vegetables, healthy foods. These younger parents do not seem to realize what they are doing to their children and are not interested in listening.
    Then you have the lazy who would rather have fast foods than fix decent meals.
    Lack of activity is a big factor, constantly playing video games, on the computer or watching TV is the entertainment of today. Forget tag, hide and seek, jumping rope.
    We have a major problem.

    February 9, 2010 at 6:35 pm |
  166. Matt Lowe

    Simple. There are many lazy, fat parents.

    February 9, 2010 at 6:35 pm |
  167. Roger Orobi

    Jack,

    We haven't allowed any of this to happen...we have simply grown overly restless about anything. We want instant results and gratification for anything including instant meals. We expect results to charge at us at supersonic speed; but when the consequences of the result hits us hard, we complain to death and we want someone fired right away. If you pretend you don't know what I am talking about look at the Obama presidency. When he walked into the white house he was greeted with a 1.4 TRILLION DEFICT; but in less than one year we expect him to break even, bring unemployment down to 4%, end the war in Iraq to a home run and put the detainees on firing squad or else you are fired.

    February 9, 2010 at 6:35 pm |
  168. vIictoria

    May I suggest our country do an in depth study on the difference in weight of our children today vs. 30 to 40 years ago when we used sugar to sweeten food and drink products instead of high fructose corn syrup...It appears that the corn syrup increases our insulin levels and in turn helps store. fat

    February 9, 2010 at 6:35 pm |
  169. Nancy, Tennessee

    Our children are obese for the same reason older citizens put on more weight – inactivity. Take away the video games and send the children out to play ball, jump rope, and tag to get a nation of children who grow up not out. Obesity should be reserved for us older people who have run out of gas and sit on our back sides.

    February 9, 2010 at 6:36 pm |
  170. Mary Ann

    Our school went from phy-ed every day, to every other day, then every other quarter, and now a semester per year. When we have school administrators more worried about saving money instead of whats right for children, that sends the wrong message. The first things eliminated are health class and physical education. We need to put education back on top and we will be a much better society for it.

    February 9, 2010 at 6:36 pm |
  171. Thanh

    I walked to and from school until my senior year of high school. Nowadays, kids get rides, either from parents or from friends.

    It's all about physical activity. In Japan, which is largely a pedestrian nation, you see far less overweight people, and the rare obese. They consume a LOT of food. I see people eat 4000 calorie meals daily. But they can eat that much because they're always walking from one place to another.

    Their trains move them over large distances, but they still have to walk to their destination from the train station.

    Also, kids are forced to join an after-school activity. It might not always be sports, but at least it keeps them from sitting around doing nothing.

    I lost 10lbs on my last trip to Japan so it's no joke.

    I go to the gym, and participate in a lot of physical activities, but I still park my car in the farthest lot from work, to get in a good brisk walk. I also have an unrestricted diet. I eat whatever I want until I'm full, and I don't count the calories. Food is only part of the problem. Most people need to integrate physical activity in their lives.

    February 9, 2010 at 6:36 pm |
  172. John

    Because the parents of 2010 are not the parents of 1960 and 1970.

    Jack, when we were kids we got home from school, got out of our
    "school clothes", and went outside to play with all the kids on the
    block. If you weren't outside, you quickly gained a reputation for
    being "cooped up in the house". You knew when it was dinner time
    because our mom would come out on the porch and yell all five of
    my brothers and sisters name to the top of her lungs in a single
    breath. After dinner, which definitely was not a kids meal with toy,
    we headed back outside and played until the street lights came on.

    There was only one or two fat kids on the block, but even they somehow could run very fast.

    It all started with PONG, Jack

    February 9, 2010 at 6:36 pm |
  173. Karen Radell

    I believe it is part and parcel of the whole movement of the last 20-odd years that has produced so many problems and probably has ruined a generation of Americans–I'm talking about the constant praise, the contant protection from failure or disappointment, and the constant emphasis on self-esteem without requiring any effort, hard work,or perseverance that has produced a generation incapable of dealing with reality. Not only does this attitude produce "helicopter" parents who hover around everything the child does (even going on job interviews), these same parents have also abdicated their parental responsibilities as far as teaching their kids about proper food and nutrition.

    February 9, 2010 at 6:37 pm |
  174. charlotte

    The school that my grandson attends has cut the P.E. class to 20 minutes per day so that the Principal can have time each morning for "her" sunrise program. The time she wastes each morning would be better served if she would let the students get into P.E. and run
    or exercise for an hour. The lunches that the school serves are not healthy meals either. It seems as though that the people that have the power to change things in our school district are not looking too hard. Could that mean "more work" for them? Well, too bad...............

    February 9, 2010 at 6:37 pm |
  175. Mac

    Parent's feed way too much fast food. American's living above their means require two incomes, so it's easier to shove a pizza in front of them rather than cook good food. My wife cooks for us and kicks the kids outside to run and play instead of sitting on the internet or playing video games constantly.

    Mac
    New Waverly, Tx

    February 9, 2010 at 6:37 pm |
  176. Kimberly

    I am appalled at some of the assumptions made by some of these comments. Not all fat children have fat parents, and not all fat parents have fat children. Thank you Peter (Dr. Peter ??) for your insight and common sense comment. We do eat too many carbs and sugars in the American diet.

    February 9, 2010 at 6:37 pm |
  177. Kim Nelson

    We no longer send our kids outside after school for free play for fear of them being abducted and the potential consequence thereof. It is safer for them to stay indoors, which leads to more TV and video games and less active movement.

    February 9, 2010 at 6:37 pm |
  178. Bill Paustenbach

    Just look at the parents, Jack. Lazy parents, lazy kids. The only exercise many parents get today is the walk from their front door to their cars. Fast food is not only convenient, it's probably cheaper than preparing a meal at home. We just have too many ways to avoid exercising or eating right. It actually takes EFFORT to stay healthy.

    February 9, 2010 at 6:37 pm |
  179. joe RN Boston

    Look at the # of adults who are obese and that should give you a good start to the problem. Obese parents, obese kids. Then go to the local food store and admire the amount of processed foods there are. Sickest part of this all this, is the healthcare industry knows this can only bring them more business. Not by preventing obesity, but by treating the endless amount of problems that come with it.

    February 9, 2010 at 6:37 pm |
  180. Cheryl P.

    People are not educated about the right things to eat, and when people don't have money, cheaper more filling foods that are bad for us have been used to stave off hunger. Parents aren't always at home to monitor the child's activities,or what they eat. If kids are left on their own; they will eat what is easy to acquire, and what tastes best to them.Kids feel as if they are invincible, so they have to understand how bad eating can ruin their chances at a long, healthy life; and get the message through! On a food production level, the hormones in our foods are also messing with our ability to burn off the food in an efficient manner; plus causing untold medical harm!! The FDA should STOP ALLOWING the farmers, etc; to put hormones and antibiotics in our food; it is harming our health!!

    February 9, 2010 at 6:37 pm |
  181. PJ

    TIME CONSTRAINTS!!
    there is no no time for parents to cook a healthy meal when both are working. It is easy to microwave something out of a box. no prep work, cooking time and cleaning.

    February 9, 2010 at 6:38 pm |
  182. Donna

    This is real simple, don't have junk in the house. I have fruit and vegetables. My kids snack on apples and instead of potato chips they will have sliced cabbage or carrots with a little salt. It's crunchy and tasty. There is no soda, but plenty of milk, organic juice and water. An occasional treat is a square of dark chocolate or a cup of cocoa...and no, not something that comes out of a pouch. I make it with milk and sugar and cocoa. I avoid processed foods and even though they whine about whole grain bread, if they are hungry they eat it and they do get hungry. I wouldn't buy a Snackable if it was the only thing left in a hurricane. Oh and there is one way to get them moving, turn the TV off. They'll complain for 10 minutes and after you ignore them, they'll go out and ride their bikes or grab some friends and play manhunt.

    February 9, 2010 at 6:38 pm |
  183. Ramona

    One suggestion to help end obesity is to eliminate the food stamp program as it now exists. Seeing people buy snack cakes, chips, cookies, "fruit" punch, etc. with food stamps is like watching the working folks' tax money being shredded right in front of your eyes. If the general public is totally opposed to eliminating food stamps, then reform the program to model after WIC-allow only the purchase of milk, cheese, eggs. amd add the purchase of fruit, vegetables, and loafs of bread. You can also eliminate the meats from the program-it seems as is everytime I am behind someone at the grocery store purchasing meat with food stamps, it's always strip steaks, or other cuts of meat that I can't afford!

    February 9, 2010 at 6:39 pm |
  184. Don Baltimore

    Mom and Dad work two or three jobs to pay for the new homes and cars. Kids get a pop tart in the morning, pizza or fried chicken at night and all the sodas and junk food they can eat in between. Mom and dad are too busy to cook. The kids sit for hours in front of all the "electronic babysitters" mom and dad buy for them, narrowing their mind and broadening their beam. Then mom and dad say they just don't know what to do!

    February 9, 2010 at 6:39 pm |
  185. Chris in St Louis

    I love all of this talk of stay at home moms/dads, walking to school, riding bikes, in house was a punishment to be avoided etc etc. If any of you own your own business or work in the top eschelon of corporate America please make this a point at your next staff meeting. I will say this, I long for those days as well, but my wife (a school teacher) works even when she isnt working and she doesn't get much help from parents taking part in their kids lives, and I work in lower level corporate America, where I work a salaried job because if they had to pay me overtime they'd go bankrupt, or for that matter hired the two or three more people they needed to get the job done in 40 hours they "think" their stock price would go down.

    My point....we work two jobs because most of us have to in order to pay for a house, private school (st louis city public schools are the worst in America for education and crime) and when the work is done, whats left over in time or money is barely enough to get moving...

    So for those of us who long for those days we need to quit bitching and let Washington, Wall ST, and Corp. America know that we are MAD AS HELL AND WE AREN'T GOING TO TAKE IT ANYMORE!! We want more time with our kids and we need a workplace that understands that and we need a government to leave our money alone so we can have mom or DAD stay home and take care of our kids.

    Watch crime drop, school shootings go by the wayside and a kinder gentler America emerge...oh and put a muzzle on the media as well. Not every story in small town America needs to be front page news across the globe.

    February 9, 2010 at 6:39 pm |
  186. mike

    Let's put the blame squarely where it belongs: PEPSICO.

    February 9, 2010 at 6:39 pm |
  187. Allison

    Hi Jack,

    I am apalled by the lack of exercise children get when they are home. Playgrounds used to be packed with children, and now they lay barren.

    I was at a restaurant the other day, and the kids at the surrounding tables were either glued to texting, ipod, or nintendo ds, and they were young children. There were no conversations except for what do you want to eat. We are raising children who are living in a virtual world. Their friends are the monsters on WOW. The only physical activity I see are the fingers.

    My eyes opened when I became a stepmother recently. I have a difficult time getting the teens off the computer. It seems as if the children born in the 90s and on know how to use a computer by the age of five. It does come down to the parents who need to create parameters. Kids will kick and scream, but for their health, we need to say , "No. Go outside and play." Unfortunately, playing now consists of going from one neighbor's house to play wii, to another. I think parents (and us step parents) need to invest in Wii fit and fast, since that is the new form of play.

    Also, snacks – how about buying fruit and nuts?

    We are adults. We need to stop indulging and start abstaining on what we put in our mouths and bring in our homes. For our health and the health of the children.

    February 9, 2010 at 6:39 pm |
  188. Michael Torrenday

    Why are 1/3 of our children obese? Simple...they are reflections of their parents.

    February 9, 2010 at 6:40 pm |
  189. Jared G

    What you are seeing is a generation of parents with little or no idea of what healthy cooking/eating is. Fast food has replaced home cooked meals and even parents who want to change have no idea where to begin. Healthy children have healthy parents and it starts with smart/informed choices at the grocery store. Focusing on our children is the best solution. We need to stop the obesity cycle now.

    February 9, 2010 at 6:40 pm |
  190. burymylovely

    The cause of obesity in kids is more complex than any one answer. One of the larger problems is our system of food in this country. Its simply cheaper (in the short term) to eat terrible food. What many people don't realize is that they are sacrificing their future health (and wallets) for the sake of their current wallet. There's also the severe decline in recces, sports and other school programs that used to get kids on their feet.

    Then there's the issue of parents today. These younger parents too often are more friends to their kids than parents. They don't say no, they don't discipline, and are very often lazy. Both parents working has nothing to do with it. Both my parents worked and we still had homemade dinner most nights.

    Oh and please don't think I'm some old fogey harping about the god old days. I'm in the same generation as these terrible, no good parents. I find it thoroughly annoying.

    February 9, 2010 at 6:40 pm |
  191. adam

    If you need more readable labels to know that ice cream, cookies, and doughnuts are not good for you, then your both dumb and fat. The solution to this problem lies w/ education and families. Don' t the same people who produce high-fructose corn syrup also produce cigarettes?

    February 9, 2010 at 6:40 pm |
  192. Nicholas

    If I remember correctly growing up was fun, we played from sunrise to sunset in NYC where I grew up. No one ever told our parents . We were always outside playing some game or sport. But crime and fears took control of us and we became fearful of letting our children out of our sights. The fear of almost everything , allergies to everything and just pure stupidity has kept our children inside. We have to assume some of the blame but some also has to go to share it with the fast food companies. Let our children play and run around outside.

    February 9, 2010 at 6:40 pm |
  193. Jim Savage

    The reason is Stranger-Danger.
    Parents are smothering their children. They don't let them out of their sight so as a consequence children are bored and close to food. As a kid I was always running around the neighborhood, riding my bike across town, or spending 8+ hours a day in the summers, chasing after lizards, snakes, and scorpions, or building forts and stick weapons in the canyons and fighting war battles with other children. There was no time to eat because we were way too busy playing and doing all the bad things parents don't want to know about!
    Maybe 1 out of 100 kids back then actually had any fat on them.

    February 9, 2010 at 6:40 pm |
  194. Phil Muse

    The big culprit is the stuff our foods are sweetened with. It is no longer cane sugar as it was in the past, but syrup from genetically modified corn. Our bodies are simply not able to break it down effectively, and so it gets stored as bulk. This syrup is found in a variety of consumer products, ranging from the usual suspect (non-diet colas) to tomato sauce and chicken broth. Its use should be banned, even if that involves a long battle against powerfully entrenched interests in food processing and agribusiness.

    February 9, 2010 at 6:41 pm |
  195. Leo in Kansas City

    Everyone is saying "diet and exercise", but I have a third factor to add: EXCUSES. There are always excuses. With some exceptions (disability, injuries, major illness), we have a responsibility to ourselves to get some decent exercise, and to make sure the next generation isn't raised in front of a television. Parents have the responsibility to feed their children HEALTHY FOOD in REASONABLE PORTIONS. No, mega-mom, your child does not need the supersized fries. And no, he doesn't need to be protected from the dangers of being outdoors. Neither do you. Go outside, get some fresh air, take your dog for a walk. You don't need an expensive gym membership to go walking, do some sit-ups, jog, do pushups, or play soccer at the park. Really, people – there's no excuse to eat the way you do. Yes, I know, unhealthy food is cheaper, but I've been dirt-poor, and there ARE moderately healthier options available if you take the time to figure it out. Please, Americans, stop making excuses!

    February 9, 2010 at 6:41 pm |
  196. Eric

    Hey Jack, Not my problem. No kids by choice. Neices and nephews by marriage. No headaches, maximum fun time !! YOU all messed up by indulging the little buggers !!! :))

    February 9, 2010 at 6:42 pm |
  197. Todd-Las Vegas

    Hey Jack,
    I am over weight and my wife s over weight, but we refuse to have our son be over weight. There is now excuse to abuse your child the way a person abuses themselves, our son is active and in great shape, we even got lap bands because we needed to be better role models, parents get it together.

    February 9, 2010 at 6:42 pm |
  198. vIictoria

    high fructose corn syrup instead of sugar in almost all our food and drink products. Do a study and I'll bet you find when sugar was used 30 years ago, kids weren't as overweight......corn syrup increases insulin production, which helps store fat!

    February 9, 2010 at 6:42 pm |
  199. Arthur in Chicago

    Wait Jack, I'm in the drive thru... Can I have I have Ginormousbellybustingbacongiganto kids meal with cheese and a Bigobottomless soda? Yes, I want the Megablowup size fries please.

    Like I said Jack, perhaps I should get them to exercise more, but I have to plan play time you know? I don't want my kid abducted, so I have to drive them to scheduled play time. Perhaps I will get the video system where they can run in place and make a duck fly.

    February 9, 2010 at 6:43 pm |
  200. Paul C

    Lazy parents equal lazy children.

    February 9, 2010 at 6:44 pm |
  201. Brian in Sunnyvale

    Every person must take responsibility for their own actions. Although kids learned their poor eating habits from their parents, and fast food industry target them, yet if parent are able to control access. None of these fat kids would get fat.

    In short, the best way to prevent mistakes is to deny yourself the oppotunity of making them. (for example, married men should not have any female friends, etc) People simply don't get fat from breathing air or drinking water. Diet alone will be more effective than any fancy approach they eventually come up with. The most effective diet would be the denial of access to food during non-meal hours. This may seem cruel, yet it's better than sending these kids to grave before they get to drive a car, go on a first date, seeing the birth of their own babies ....

    February 9, 2010 at 6:45 pm |
  202. KRA from Texas

    I must agree with some earlier posts. Too much technology, junk food and not enough parental EXAMPLE. It is not just kids who are getting heavier. I agree that it is a parent's responsibility to see that their children are provided SOLEY with appropriate food choices. Using technology as a baby sitter doesn't help. But, parents have to be actively involved themselves, leadership by example.

    Some public schools (IE middle schools and high schools) have actually DECREASED their PE requirements. Lets make the classes fun, active, and worthwhile–not the joke they have become.

    February 9, 2010 at 6:45 pm |
  203. Todd-Las Vegas

    Hey Jack,
    I am over weight and my wife s over weight, but we refuse to have our son be over weight. There is no excuse to abuse your child the way a person abuses themselves, our son is active and in great shape, we even got lap bands because we needed to be better role models, parents get it together.

    February 9, 2010 at 6:45 pm |
  204. iyke

    We dont have such a problem in nigeria,not even in the well to do families.Americans should go back to the drawing board on parenting.

    February 9, 2010 at 6:45 pm |
  205. Cliff Glass - East Rockaway, NY

    Easy Jack – cable TV and computers. Back in the day when I came home from elementary school ( a mere 40 years ago) – you went out and played ball after school. High tech pseudo-substitutes exercise simulators like Nintendo Wi didn't exist.
    Make gym class mandatory, measure the BMI of students and if any children are obese then call the parents in for regular meetings with a school nutrition counselor. Get them fit when they are young and maybe our nationas health care crises will lessen in coming years.

    February 9, 2010 at 6:45 pm |
  206. lynne j.

    Jack, the entertainment is in the house. Why go out and play football when Madden is on the pc or the Xbox?

    I remember when I was a kid in the 70s, I came home from school and was outside playing, running and jumping.

    Add the hoodlums and sickos terrorizing neighborhoods shooting or messing with our kids and the entertainment in the house along with the processed food that is served them, since Mama doesn't want to cook, no wonder they're fat.

    And will stay so, until we get the hoodlums off the street and Mama makes Little Johnny go out and play while she actually cooks a decent meal.

    February 9, 2010 at 6:46 pm |
  207. Mario Lima

    The computer is one of the problems kids are facing now.I drive by empty streets and parks.When i was growing up in the 70s our hangout was the park or some sport game or another in the streets.We did not have virtual games or none of this music and war games it was a better time and family values with of course the 5 pm dinner with the family.We are lucky if our Children sit for dinner at 5 pm.We need exercise in our schools instead of computers and we need better park programs.

    February 9, 2010 at 6:46 pm |
  208. justin

    People think of food as enjoyment rather than fuel.

    Food is fuel, nothing more, nothing less. Buying expensive diet bars or plans aren't going to make you lose weight. It's the regime of eating within your weight over a period of time, a lifestyle if you will.

    February 9, 2010 at 6:46 pm |
  209. viji Rajan

    As a pre-school teacher working with children I find the problem
    with obesity comes from childhood. Lot of parents don't have the
    time to fix proper lunch. We can fix the problem by having education
    on food. It can be done on back to school night or simply sending
    information on the right food for children. Parents need to eat with
    the children. They can make it fun and enjoyable. This goes for
    older children also.
    It's also the problem of today. People are in a hurry and don't
    have the time to enjoy their meal. This is passed on to the children.
    We need to have exercise and yoga for children at school.

    February 9, 2010 at 6:46 pm |
  210. Steven; Cottage Grove, MN

    It's American business values, Jack. You know damn well some companies must have done a "Cost-Benefit" analysis and found that more money could be made with sugar and carbohydrates than more healthy alternatives. We are fat and dumb........just the way they want us.

    February 9, 2010 at 6:47 pm |
  211. jed

    as a super overweight person the main factor of kids and adults over weight is the computers then the internet then tv, and last fast food.

    February 9, 2010 at 6:47 pm |
  212. Charlie Drumm

    It is the fault of one third of the parents. Parents who don't make excercise, and sensible diets, a priority, along with allowing too much tv, and video game watching, are the ones responsible. It is the parents who are at fault. Parents who are not playing a bigger role in raising their children. However, above all, what we don't need is more Big Government Intervention.

    February 9, 2010 at 6:48 pm |
  213. Craig in Illinois

    Jack it started with the downfall of the family farm and the 2 parent working family.
    The kids of now wouldn't know how to act with a shovel, rake, hoe, etc. in their hands, let alone raise a garden for their own food.

    Make them grow and prepare their own food in school as a requirement.
    Take them to a food processing plant on a field trip and let them see what goes into the food they eat.
    Let them see the kitchen of some of the places where their food is prepared.
    That alone would make them anorexic!
    Then you have to get the soft drink, snack food, and other companies out of the school food programs and the politicians pockets.
    Set up some local farmers/growers with these schools like some co-op type programs and let these kids earn while they learn while working for their food.
    Sooner or later some of us are going to have to go back to basics just for a means of survival. Teach them hunting wild game for food not sport.
    Granted some kid with the last name of "Bilderberg" won't subject themselves to this type of environment, but they won't be in public schools with the rest of society.

    February 9, 2010 at 6:48 pm |
  214. Tom

    I've had several European visitors live with me for various reasons. Their initial view of Americans when they arrive is "fat and lazy". After a year, their view is "eat horribly and work too hard".

    Our work days are longer, we ride to and from work in our car, stop at McDonald's or KFC on the way home, and throw down the grub before "stars" comes on. No exercises and excess caloric intake is all you need to know.

    My suggestion? What my sister calls the "outside isles" diet. When you go to the grocery store, only shop in the outside isles. This is where you will find the non-processed foods (fruits, vegetables, meats). Stay out of the inside isles (sugar cereals, pastas, processed food). Also, walk an hour in the morning or evening.

    Cheers.

    February 9, 2010 at 6:49 pm |
  215. Cyle in Dublin, CA

    Kids today are encouraged to have a sedentary lifestyle with an unhealthy diet.

    We've all seen it at the grocery store – some brat howling until the parent gives in and buys the candy. Whining until they get the video game which they will spend days sitting in front of the TV playing.

    Parents are terrified of letting their kids do the reckless crazy stuff we did for entertainment. I would ride my bike for miles in a random direction, climb to the top of the tallest tree I could find, play tackle football with the neighborhood kids at the park, hike along creeks, climb rocks, and have screaming dirt fights with friends. I don't think i spent more than an hour each day watching TV (saturday morning cartoons excepted).

    Give up your virtual existance – Unplug and live a real life

    February 9, 2010 at 6:49 pm |
  216. kathy sacramento ca

    i agree with JOE

    February 9, 2010 at 6:49 pm |
  217. GeeYaThink

    I'll tell you why Jack. Because of their horrid parents who don't really want the job of parenting so they choose to medicate their kids and call it ADD or some other stupid syndrome. Oh, I almost forgot to mention the lazy a$$ kids themselves who would rather sit in front of a TV all day playing stupid games. They now feel that everything should be given to them, rather than working for it.

    February 9, 2010 at 6:50 pm |
  218. Chelley

    Virtually all comments posted so far are valid. As a member of a family with a farm, I'd like to add to the conversation. As a nation, the total "food" we produce domestically is not representative of a healthy diet because it is heavily tilted toward cheaper-to-produce and government price-supported corn, bleached flower, and meat. Too many of our so-called fresh fruits and veggies are imported from over a thousand or more miles away and don't have the same nutritional value as those that are come from local fruit and veggie farms who receive little if any government support. Couple that with the I'm-too-busy-to-cook and the I-must-be-entertained-at-all-costs obsession with electronic entertainment, there's no wonder waistlines are expanding. We need to divert our attention away from convenience and entertainment and more toward the quality of what's on our plates and the sedentary nature of our lives.

    February 9, 2010 at 6:50 pm |
  219. mack, puerto rico

    Big Mac, fries, soda – under $5 and under 10minutes. Going to a Farmer's Market and buying fresh vegetables, grains, and fruit – more expensive, less accessible, takes more time.

    We are inbedded in a fast food culture that doesn't have time or money for healthy eating habits. We have been slowly drugged by the food corporations promising low fat, low cal, low sugar substituted food.

    These foods are genetically engineered to keep us eating huge portions and are the cause, i believe, of increases in cancer, diabetes, high-blood pressure, etc.

    Obesity has become an American identity isue that is wrapped in a lawless circle of food companies and a blind FDA. I pray that Mrs. Obama can start to make a change.

    February 9, 2010 at 6:50 pm |
  220. ferde

    Huge portions and diet soda

    February 9, 2010 at 6:50 pm |
  221. Eric

    If you want to know why children are obese, just look at their parents. Children are obese for the same exact reasons as adults; sedentary lifestyles and atrocious diets. I once took a bus to see elephant seals and a morbidly obese family was snacking on potato chips for the entire hour long ride there. Once off of the bus, and after only a few hundred feet of walking, the children started loudly complaining that the hike was too strenuous and that they would rather be playing video games. The subject of weight came up (to juxtapose a human with an elephant seal) and I was astonished to find out that the 5'2" nine year old weighed the same as I did, a grown 5'9" thirty-five year old man. Nine year old boys and girls should be running around outside all day long and have to be dragged indoors kicking and screaming for dinner; I had video games and computers as well when I grew up but we also played outside.

    February 9, 2010 at 6:51 pm |
  222. Cheryl

    This is a very complex issue. It will not be an easy fix. There are a lot of factors that have contributed to the problem. We eat far too much processed food. Working women do not have time to make their families fresh healthy meals from scratch as our mothers and grandmothers did. Macdonald's et al are cheap and easy after a long work day. The American food industry has been engineered to make us fat and until that changes we cannot expect our families to be healthy. The man-made chemicals and additives in processed foods make us fat. The man-made trans fats, the man-made artificial sweeteners, the genetically modified foods, the pasteurization of food, the microwaving of food, the growth hormones and drugs in our meat and dairy products, the chemicals in our creams and lotions and the chlorine and fluoride in our water all make us fat. I wish Mrs. Obama much success in her crusade, but she will have to go up against some heavy hitting lobby groups to have any substantive effect.

    February 9, 2010 at 6:51 pm |
  223. kathy sacramento ca

    i agree with kaydee too. if both parents are working it is very hard.
    their is a lot of reason. fast food chain is getting rich day by day.

    February 9, 2010 at 6:52 pm |
  224. Lynne in CA

    We have become a culture of fast everything gotta have it now. For harried working parents it's easier to run through McDonalds or order heart attack on a plate entrees from Dennys than it is to grocery shop and cook healthy meals. Compare the price of ramen noodles and frozen pizza to the price of fresh fruits and vegetables or a loaf of whole grain bread and you will find the high fat/carb/sodium foods to be less expensive than their healthier counterparts.

    February 9, 2010 at 6:52 pm |
  225. Mari, Utah

    Someone wrote "don't blame the American people"......... really?? Let's not take RESPONSIBILITY for putting junk in our bodies. No one, no corporation, no Fast Food chain is holding a gun to our heads!

    Health is a decision, a choice. Watch Food Inc., the documentary about food in our nation.

    February 9, 2010 at 6:52 pm |
  226. Steve A

    We have become a spectator nation-
    Instead of playing sports- we watch them on TV or play video versions.
    Instead of learning to play instruments, we listen to MP3s.
    Instead of having real relationships, we live vicariously through reality TV.
    All these activities are reinforced by the transient satisfaction of eating.
    The Super Bowl is only wildly popular because it gives us yet another reason to stuff our faces.
    Turn off the TV and start living.

    February 9, 2010 at 6:53 pm |
  227. jj-worcester ma

    From my experience, many parents being away from home for long working leaves the kids to eat what they want and as much as they want.
    Also, when I came here with my nieces, they were nice and slender but the school food was aweful, I mean aweful Jack.

    February 9, 2010 at 6:53 pm |