Mary MacVean at the LA Times’ Booster Shots assigns the blame:

 Sixty percent of the cause of the rise in childhood obesity rests with the parents, according to parents who took a Yale survey about food marketing. The parents assigned the rest of the cause to an unhealthy food environment.

The Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity at Yale University points the finger at food marketing, which is ubiquitous and not always subtle:

Food marketing contributes to poor diet and obesity among youth, and public health experts believe that the obesity crisis cannot be resolved without dramatic changes in food marketing to children and adolescents. The food industry has responded to these concerns with self-regulatory pledges that have produced some small changes, but questionable improvement. Further, the federal government’s efforts to propose voluntary principles to guide companies have stalled due to industry opposition.

Nearly 2,500 parents were surveyed.  The conclusions:

Among this sample of parents, there was broad support for nearly all proposed actions to promote healthy eating among children. Approval was highest for policies that would set nutrition standards for foods sold in schools (supported by 72-81% of parents) and policies that would promote healthy eating in children’s media (70-73%).

On the subject of foods sold at schools, Susan Heavey at Reuters tells us:

U.S. school children searching for a healthy snack at school – perhaps an apple or some celery sticks – may find that a bag of potato chips is much easier to come by, a report released on Thursday said.

There is plenty of blame to go around.  Even pediatricians often tip-toe around the subject with some patients and families they sense are sensitive or defensive.  At least parents realize that, regardless of who is to blame for this national epidemic of childhood obesity, they have the power to reverse the trend.  Controlling media influences on our children is often easier said than done.  And committing a family’s food budget to buying more fresh fruits and vegetables is hard to do when money is tight.  But in this society, money talks.  We all have the right NOT to buy what is obviously unhealthy for our kids (and ourselves).  We have the right to turn off media that interfere with our parental responsibilities of ensuring our kids’ health (even if our kids don’t like when we do that).   We need to be more vocal in making sure our schools are safe AND healthy environments for our children. And, most importantly, we can strive to be better role models when it comes to diet and exercise.

If we have the will, we have the way.  It’s in our power.  We can do this!

Read Booster Shots article here:

Read Yale’s Rudd Report here:

Reuters article here: