The Kitchen Think: Could Childhood Obesity Rates Be On The Decline?


We all got some good news earlier this week, and you may not even be aware of it.

Childhood obesity rates are falling.

The trend is emerging in large cities like New York and Los Angeles, as well as smaller places like Anchorage, Alaska and Kearney, Nebraska and El Paso, Texas.

Why is this good news for you? Because falling obesity rates might mean those children won’t grow up to be obese adults who usually face the kind of medical issues that come with staggering costs.

For example, the government will spend $200 billion dollars this year alone to treat diabetes, heart disease and strokes, which are often driven by obesity. Many of those who receive treatment live at or below the poverty line. That’s something we’ll all pay for.

The childhood obesity epidemic may be reversing its course because the issue has become a significant part of the national conversation. We’ve been bombarded (in a good way) with anti-obesity advertising campaigns and many schools have switched to healthier menus and eliminated sugary drinks and snack machines. (Lord knows, Mama’s always preaching about it.)

Researchers say while the decline is welcome, it will still take a major government action to significantly reverse the trend.

I’m sure it will. But even if we’re seeing only a tiny dip in the numbers, I like it. That means there are parents (and children) taking their future health and weight seriously.

Every year around the holidays, you always hear people saying things like, “If you’ve got your health, you have everything,” and “I’m just grateful for my health (or the good health of my family).”

But really, is there anything more important?



Kitchen Think: We Want Healthy Food! (Yeah, Right…)


When Mama’s generation was growing up (or as Carlos likes to say, “Back in the day…”), I don’t remember parents  making themselves as nuts as they do today about what their kids ate.

Sure, we were told to eat our vegetables and drink our milk. But there wasn’t all this screaming about fast food joints serving “healthy” kids meals.  I know you’re going to say that’s because fast food places weren’t so ubiquitous.

But there are other reasons, as well: Eating at a McDonald’s or KFC or Pizza Hut was a treat, not a daily dining option; Americans hadn’t yet become fixated on the easy meal loaded with fat, sugar and sodium… and, of course, childhood obesity wasn’t an epidemic.

Now, we’re trying to undo our collective vice of bad nutrition habits… at least that’s what the National Restaurant Association 2012 Industry Forecast shows.  A consumer survey indicates that we want restaurants and fast food places to offer up healthier options. Take a look at the list of what parents NOW say they want:

1.    Healthy kids meals
2.    Fruits ad veggies in kids meals
3.    Gluten-free items
4.    Low-fat or non-fat milk and 100% orange juice options in kids meals
5.    Locally sourced produce
6.    Lower sodium items
7.    Spicy items
8.    Lower-calorie options
9.    Mini-desserts or dessert bites
10.  Low-fat foods

Sorry for being cynical, but it seems to me that we’re only paying lip service to wanting a healthier lifestyle. The Restaurant survey also shows that French fries, jumbo soft drinks and beef items are still the top items ordered at fast food restaurants… not salads or skinless chicken breast sandwiches.

Ask people what they want in a survey, and they are going to give you a litany of healthy options—what they actually order is something else entirely.  Hmmm…My guess is that all those people saying they want healthy options are the same folks who say they only listen to NPR and only watch PBS.

I’m Christina Chavez

I was a TV journalist for many years, but with a house full of kids I decided to come off the road, go to culinary school and follow my passion for cooking. Mama’s High Strung is all about food… everything from creative recipe ideas to some really cool kitchen gadgets and cooking tips. I live in Chicago, but I love to travel and write about my food discoveries! You can reach me by email: