By Dr. Fiona Blair
Note from Jordan: Fiona Blair, M.D., a Harvard University and Emory University-trained pediatrician from Atlanta, partnered with me in the writing of a children’s health book. Dr. Blair has an oversized heart for treating heavyset children whose poor nutrition and minimal exercise have contributed to a variety of ills. She’s appeared numerous times on CNN’s Headline News as a medical expert whenever the topic of childhood obesity makes the news, which, unfortunately, is quite often these days. Here is one of her experiences as it relates to how we, as parents, sometimes are accomplices in our children’s poor eating patterns.
I remember a time one mom brought her eight-year-old son in for a checkup. The poor kid weighed 150 pounds, and he was a third-grader!
“Dr. Blair,” said the mother, “you’ve got to do something about this child.”
“I’ve got to do something about this child?” I asked, like his ballooned physique was my fault.
“Yes, because I don’t know what else to do. Look at him. He’s so big.”
“Yes, he’s overweight, but what kind of foods does he eat?”
“He eats nothing but junk. His favorite food is Twinkies. He eats Twinkies all day long.”
I cut her off right there. “Does he have a job?” I queried.
“No,” she replied with a look that said, What kind of question is that?
“Does he drive?”
“Then where’s he getting the Twinkies from?”
Now that question really hit home. She looked down and tugged at her purse. “I buy them for him,” she whispered.
“Why are you doing that?”
She had no answer for me. Although it seemed simple and obvious to me that if you don’t buy Twinkies, he won’t eat Twinkies, that simple fact had eluded her.
I let this idea settle in before I offered some doctorly advice. “Now, let me remind you that you’re in control of what he eats. It’s not up to me to do something about it; it’s up to you.”
I practice what I preach. For instance, I leave a bowl of various fruits out for my children to snack on when they come home from school. I know that if I set a plate of doughnuts next to the fruit, the doughnuts will get eaten before the fruit, so I don’t make the doughnut option available.
It’s as simple as that.