Your Child’s Abominable Diet is Child Victimization

By Garrick Hoffman

There is something painfully alarming about being in a convenient store (or supermarket,

or restaurant) and seeing what the parent is allowing – or even encouraging – their child

to eat: Slim Jims. Doritos. Little Debbies. Oreos. Ice cream. Handfuls of candy. Liters

upon liters of Pepsi. Burgers with double the patties and double the bacon and double the

cheddar. Energy drinks (some give you wings!). And let’s not forget: Happy Meals.

But will all those meals really be “happy” anymore once you’ve learned your kid

has early onset hypertension and type II diabetes, both of which are life-threatening

conditions?

One might also feel alarmed in reading the title alone of an article recently

published by NPR: “About A Third Of U.S. Kids And Teens Ate Fast Food Today”,

which cites recent studies by the CDC to illustrate this point. This means one in three

adolescents aged 2-19 ate fast-food not only today, but as the article explains, that they

do every day. And perhaps it’s no wonder, since they are incessantly bombarded with

fast-food advertisement, with many advertisements geared specifically towards children.

But despite the influence of marketing, there is still an accountability and responsibility

that parents bear.

Although the term “child victimization” is typically associated with verbal,

physical, or emotional abuse, it can also come in a more subtle, yet equally insidious

form: malnutrition. Malnutrition is defined as “lack of proper nutrition; inadequate or

unbalanced nutrition.” This could stem from a variety of things: insufficient

nutrient/calorie intake, excessive eating, a lack or absence of healthy and nutritional

foods in a child’s diet (fruits and vegetables, for example), or from a diet composed of

poor food options with minimal or no nutritional value (i.e. most processed foods or

sugar foods). Many parents will believe that so long as their child is eating, this is surely

better than their child not eating enough. And this mentality is haunting.

There are a couple reasons why it’s haunting: the parent appears entirely apathetic

to a huge element of their child’s well-being, feeding them foods without examining their

effects; and because poor nutritional choices can and does lead to health conditions that

can permanently affect the life of that child. The American Academy of Family

Physicians (AAFP) reports that, “High blood pressure in childhood commonly leads to

hypertension in adulthood, and adult hypertension is the leading cause of premature death

around the world. Children with hypertension may have evidence of target organ

damage.” Furthermore, primary hypertension, which is strongly correlated to a child

being obese or overweight, and is also much more likely to strike children than adults, is

commonly associated with risk factors for cardiovascular disease (CVD), according to

AAFP.

It is a parent’s responsibility for ensuring their child not only has a healthy diet,

but is trained to embrace it as well. When a child is trained at a young age to avoid

harmful foods that are destructive on human health, and concurrently embrace food they

understand is good for them, they are much more likely to correctly travel on a path of

healthy eating for life. If one is fortunate, their child will break out of abject food habits

to embrace better ones and – most importantly, if one is very fortunate – their child will

not develop early onset hypertension, heart disease, type II diabetes, and will not become

obese, which alone can cause a myriad of health conflicts.

The list, eerily enough, does not end there.

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