Research Proves Junk Food Advertising Causes Childhood Obesity

Back in the “olden days”, tobacco companies created marketing campaigns like this…


…and this…


…and this…


…in an attempt to make their product seem healthy, family-friendly and to CAPTURE THE YOUTH MARKET.

Because they knew that:

  1. Kids are more susceptible to marketing than adults
  2. People who start smoking as kids are likely to be life-long smokers
  3. Targeting children is the most effective business strategy

“Younger adults are the only sources of replacement smokers” – RJ Reynolds, 1984

“Today’s teenager is tomorrow’s potential regular customer, and the overwhelming majority of smokers first begin to smoke while still in their teens… The smoking patterns of teenagers are particularly important to Philip Morris.” – Philip Morris 1981

“The ability to attract new smokers and develop them into a young adult franchise is key to brand development.” – 1999 Philip Morris report

“They got lips? We want them.” – Reply of an RJ Reynolds representative when asked the age of the kids they were targeting

But of course, that happened way back in the olden days, before we got smart and told tobacco companies to stop giving our kids cancer. Nowadays, we would never let an industry knowingly make profits by making our kids sick….would we?


According to this meta-analysis of all of the available scientific research, we know for a fact that unhealthy food advertising does increase unhealthy food intake in children…but not in adults.

And IMHO, that’s because children are children and lack the awareness & experience to resist the siren call of Madison Ave mind control.

According to lead researcher Dr Emma Boyland : “Through our analysis of these published studies I have shown that food advertising doesn’t just affect brand preference – it drives consumption. Given that almost all children in Westernised societies are exposed to large amounts of unhealthy food advertising on a daily basis this is a real concern.

“Small, but cumulative increases in energy intake have resulted in the current global childhood obesity epidemic and food marketing plays a critical role in this. We have also shown that the effects are not confined to TV advertising; online marketing by food and beverage brands is now well established and has a similar impact.

“On the basis of these findings, recommendations for enacting environmental strategies and policy options to reduce children’s exposure to food advertising are evidence-based and warranted.”

And just in case anyone is confused about the health effects of childhood obesity, here’s what the CDC has to say:

Health Effects of Childhood Obesity

Childhood obesity has both immediate and long-term effects on health and well-being.

Immediate health effects:

  • Obese youth are more likely to have risk factors for cardiovascular disease, such as high cholesterol or high blood pressure. In a population-based sample of 5- to 17-year-olds, 70% of obese youth had at least one risk factor for cardiovascular disease.
  • Obese adolescents are more likely to have prediabetes, a condition in which blood glucose levels indicate a high risk for development of diabetes.
  • Children and adolescents who are obese are at greater risk for bone and joint problems, sleep apnea, and social and psychological problems such as stigmatization and poor self-esteem.

Long-term health effects:

  • Children and adolescents who are obese are likely to be obese as adults and are therefore more at risk for adult health problems such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke, several types of cancer, and osteoarthritis.6  One study showed that children who became obese as early as age 2 were more likely to be obese as adults.
  • Overweight and obesity are associated with increased risk for many types of cancer, including cancer of the breast, colon, endometrium, esophagus, kidney, pancreas, gall bladder, thyroid, ovary, cervix, and prostate, as well as multiple myeloma and Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

What does this mean to you?


  • Advertisers used to market tobacco to children
  • When enough parents were convinced that tobacco was bad for their kids, they demanded (via gov’t) that advertising tobacco to kids be stopped immediately.
  • Today, advertisers market processed junk food to children
  • Some of us (me, you, World Health Organization, CDC, American Psychological Association, etc) are convinced that (1) processed junk food is bad for our kids and (2) our kids are susceptible to junk food advertising.

Unfortunately, not enough parents are convinced…and until they are, their kids are at a higher risk of obesity, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke, several types of cancer,  osteoarthritis, and many types of cancer including cancer of the breast, colon, endometrium, esophagus, kidney, pancreas, gall bladder, thyroid, ovary, cervix, and prostate, as well as multiple myeloma and Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

What can we do?

Thanks to the wonders of social media & the interweb, all you need to do is share this article on Facebook and Twitter.

All we need is one @KimKardashian retweet and those corporate childhood obesity peddlers are screwed  🙂



Like this article???

If you like this article, don’t forget to subscribe to @healthhabits. When you subscribe, my friends at MailChimp will make sure to send you an email every time I post something new here at the blog.

As well, you also get access to the series of Supplement Reports that I am publishing this year.

button subscribe

Childhood Obesity Rates Ballooning All Around the World

Around the world, 41 million children under the age of 5 are obese or overweight according to the World Health Organization (WHO). And since 1990, the number of obese or overweight children around the world has grown by 10,000,000.

As if that wasn’t bad enough….the majority of that expansion has happened in developing countries…countries with fewer financial resources to help reverse this trend.

Why is this happening?

According to the WHO, the explosion in obesity rates of childhood obesity in developing countries is due to globalization and urbanization.

Or in other words…we took one of the crappiest parts of our society and spread it all around the world. Yay us.



Specifically, the WHO identifies the marketing & consumption of processed food and drinks factor responsible for the increase in global childhood obesity.

The report said that the global childhood obesity epidemic had the potential to reverse many recent health gains made across the globe and called on governments to address what it called a major health challenge.

“WHO needs to work with governments to implement a wide range of measures that address the environmental causes of obesity and overweight, and help give children the healthy start to life they deserve,” said Peter Gluckman, ECHO co-chair.

Among its recommendations, the WHO said governments should:

  • promote healthy foods,
  • promote increased physical activity and
  • promote healthy school environments









WHO Conclusions

The greatest obstacle to effective progress on reducing childhood obesity is a lack of political commitment and a failure of governments and other actors to take ownership, leadership and necessary actions.

Governments must invest in robust monitoring and accountability systems to track the prevalence of childhood obesity. These systems are vital in providing data for policy development and in offering evidence of the impact and effectiveness of interventions.

The Commission would like to stress the importance and necessity of tackling the complex issue of childhood obesity. WHO, international organizations and their Member States, as well as non-State actors, all have a critical role to play in harnessing momentum and ensuring that all sectors remain committed to working together to reach a positive conclusion.

My Conclusions

The WHO has identified a series global health issue, but like the carpenter who thinks that the solution to every problem is a hammer and a nail, the WHO is suffering from a great big case of confirmation bias.

While I agree that all the groups listed above have a responsibility to do their part in reducing global childhood obesity, the WHO neglects to hold PARENTS responsible for their part in this cluster-fudge.

As the father of an almost-one-year-old baby girl, I am royally pissed off that she will be inundated with messages 24-7 that the consumption of junk food is essential to living a happy life full of fun & friendship.

And I’m also not happy that quasi-governmental bodies allow industry to help develop the official government endorsed “health-eating plans.”

And don’t even get me started on CEOs that put short-term bumps in share price over the health of the children who consume their food products. Companies are made up of people…and if those people don’t care about my kid, I have no problems using social media to publicly shame them and encourage parents to make healthier choices.

Okay…that’s enough ranting for today.

If you can spare 5 seconds, please RT or share this article via Facebook 


Like this article???

If you like this article, don’t forget to subscribe to @healthhabits. When you subscribe, my friends at MailChimp will make sure to send you an email every time I post something new here at the blog.

As well, you also get access to the series of Supplement Reports that I am publishing this year.

button subscribe

Restaurant Revolution: When Healthier Menus = Healthier Profits & Healthier Kids

In April 2012, Silver DIner, a full-service family restaurant chain with 15 locations in Maryland, Virginia and New Jersey, made three major changes to its children’s menu in order to make healthier items easier to choose.

  • Meals were re-designed to meet or exceed nutrition standards set by the National Restaurant Association’s Kids LiveWell program (59%, compared to 22% before the changes).
  • Healthy side dishes became the default choice – strawberries, mixed vegetables, or side salads–were automatically included with all kids’ meals by default.
  • And less-healthy choices such as french fries, soda and lemonade were removed from the menu.

NOTE: Fries and soda were still available…upon request.

What Happened Next?

  • Children’s meal prices increased by $0.79 for breakfasts and $0.19 for non-breakfast meals.
  • Restaurant revenue increased with yearly percent change as follows:
  • 2008-2009: +1.5%,
  • 2009-2010: −2.1%,
  • 2010-2011: +11.1%,
  • 2011-2012: +5.1%,
  • and 2012-2013: +5.1%.
  • Orders of healthy meals, strawberry and vegetable sides, milk, and juice increased
  • Orders of French fries, desserts and soda decreased
  • Total calories ordered by children decreased (684 kcal pre vs. 621 kcal post)
  • Except for the kids who requested un-healthy choices (935.0 pre vs. 942.9 post)




  1. Chain restaurants can create healthier menus without alienating their ‘non-health-food’ patrons,
  2. Kids will eat healthier restaurant meals when menus are designed correctly,
  3. Chain restaurants can increase profits by making their menus healthier

Where do we go from here?

  • If I was a restaurant owner, I would consider taking a look at the Silver Diner kids menu and use it as a template for re-working my own kids menu
  • If I was a restaurant owner, I would consider applying the same menu format for the main menu as well
  • As a parent, I am going to send a link to this article to the restaurants I frequent most often. The number of obese children in our society is truly horrendous and we all need to pitch in to reverse this trend.

Please Help

Most people will never hear about this article, this research, this restaurant.

Please help by tweeting, sharing, pinning, tumbling, stumbling, etc.


Like this article?

Subscribe to @healthhabits and my friends at Mail Chimp will make sure that every time I scribble an article for @healthhabits, it will end up in your email inbox.

In addition to the articles, I will be writing a series of Special Reports this year exclusively for @healthhabits subscribers.

Subscribe now and make sure you don’t miss out.

button subscribe

Children, Health, Politics, Toronto, Woonerfs and a whole big pile of BS

Back in the olden days of my youth, the kids on my block used to race home from school, throw their schoolbooks onto the floor , run back outside and play sports until it was too dark to see and/or someone’s Mom started yelling at everyone to go home for dinner.

So why is it that I never see any kids playing outside anymore?

Maybe it’s because:

  • all the parents are freaked out that their kids will be abducted or run over in front of their house…
  • or the kids are inside playing video games and/or texting their friends…
  • or that cranky neighbour on the block keeps complaining to the city about the noise made by kids playingand the city decided that it’s better to shut up a cranky old SOB than to have our kids out in the fresh air getting some exercise.

road hockey canada

It’s not as if we have a childhood obesity problem….

  • Oh yeah, we do have a childhood obesity problem.

It’s not as if rates of childhood type-2 diabetes have skyrocketed….

  • Oh yeah, rates of childhood type-2 diabetes have skyrocketed.

It’s not as if exercise helps our kids live healthier lives, reducing rates of obesity, diabetes, depression, anxiety….

  • Oh yeah, exercise does help our kids live healthier lives, reducing rates of obesity, diabetes, depression, anxiety


It’s not as if exercise helps our kids score better grades at school….

  • Oh yeah, exercise does help our kids score better grades at school

It’s not as if exercise helps our kids develop emotional & social skills while reducing symptoms of ADHD….

  • Oh yeah, exercise does help our kids develop emotional & social skills while reducing symptoms of ADHD

healthy-kids health fitness healthhabits

It’s not as if the value of unstructured play amongst their peers has been scientifically proven to be superior to organized sports in terms of physical, emotional & mental health….

  • Oh yeah, unstructured play amongst their peers has been scientifically proven to be superior to organized sports in terms of the physical, emotional & mental health of our kids.

It’s not as if the cost of organized sports is becoming too expensive for more & more families….

  • Oh yeah, the cost of organized sports is becoming too expensive for more & more families

It’s not as neighbourhoods in which adults & children create social ties (via pick-up sports or other activities) are perceived as better & safer…potentially increasing real estate values.

  • Oh yeah, neighbourhoods with a sense of community are universally perceived as better & safer.

rink - skating outdoor

So why is it that instead of encouraging our kids to be physically active in their neighbourhood, city bureaucrats elect to play Grinch and confiscate their portable basketball net?

Seriously…this is no joke. Police in Ohio literally stopped a bunch of kids from playing hoops in front of their house, dragged away their portable basketball net and fined the adult owner…even after the owner offered to move the net.

How’s that for Serve & Protect?

But that’s not the end of this sad story.

As videos of this type are wont to do…it went viral…with the local news media running it over and over and over, making the police and lawmakers look like total jackasses.

And because no one likes to look like a jackass….when it came time for the net owner to have her day in court, the prosecutor dismissed the case….hoping that the problem will go away and that the tv people will move on to another story. Which it did 😦

And it’s not just in Ohio. Earlier today, I was talking to a Mom in my hometown of Toronto who had a similar story.

She was recently told by the city that she had to remove the portable basketball net that she put up for her kids and their neighbourhood friends….or the city would fine her and remove the net.

And what reason did the city use to demand the removal of the basketball net from the edge of her residential cul-de-sac?

Because it was a danger to garbage collectors.

Sure, they can navigate around parked cars and avoid piles of snow in the winter, but a portable basketball net…that’s a whole different story.

Obviously this is total BS.

And according to my Twitter pal, the real story is that an alleged neighbour, who allegedly works for the city, allegedly complained that the kids were allegedly making too much noise.And because all bureaucracies favor nepotism over common sense, the basketball net had to go.

(see how I avoided a lawsuit by using the word allegedly…smart huh?)

But wait, let’s forget about the BS story about the garbage collectors…what about the children? We all “know” that city streets can be dangerous. And a lot of us believe that city roads were built for automobiles and that kids (or adults) have no business being on the road in front of their house?

IMHO, that is another pile of BS.

One of the fastest growing concepts being used by city planners all around the world, known as the living street or woonerf, is based on the idea that city streets aren’t the exclusive domain of the automobile and that by using a variety of methods…

  • Streets are often built at the same grade as sidewalks, without curbs.
  • Cars are limited to a speed that does not disrupt other uses of the streets (usually defined to be pedestrian speed).
  • To slow down drivers, the street is set up so that a car cannot drive in a straight line for significant distances, for example by placing planters at the edge of the street, alternating the side of the street the parking is on, or curving the street itself.

…drivers are forced to pay attention, slow down, and not treat residential street like main arterial roads. And I think we can all agree that a cul-de-sac should never be confused with a main arterial road.

And while there are still a bunch of city bureaucrats in Ohio & Toronto who have declared war on kids playing hoops or road hockey in front of their homes, there are some brave souls in city government who see the concept of living streets as one to investigate.

While Holland has thousands of woonerfs, Toronto is about to get our first.

Just think, maybe in a few years, Toronto’s elected officials & it’s bureaucracy will see the benefit of:

  • slowing down drivers on our residential streets…
  • allowing our kids to play pick-up street hockey games with their friends…
  • and even getting us old folks outside to sip coffee and chat while watching our kids grow healthy & strong

Then again…maybe it’s better that our residential streets are turning into racetracks and that our kids are growing up fat and unhealthy.

(Apologies for that last sentence…writing this article got my inner Norma Rae worked up)

What would my inner Norma Rae do next?

Toronto is in the midst of an election campaign. On October 27, we go to the polls to elect a new Mayor and a gaggle of councillors, As such, now is the perfect time to give the candidates an opportunity to look like a defender of children and a slayer of stupid bureaucracy.

Here’s what I propose.

And if you can’t do any of that…organize a big road hockey game for this weekend and send me an invite 🙂

Like this article?

Subscribe to @healthhabits and my friends at Mail Chimp will make sure that every time I scribble an article for @healthhabits, it will end up in your email inbox.

In addition to the articles, I will be writing a series of Special Reports this year exclusively for @healthhabits subscribers.

Subscribe now and make sure you don’t miss out.

button subscribe

Your Unconscious Mind is Making You Fat

There I am.

  • Sitting on the couch watching NHL playoff hockey at the end of a long day.
  • The wife offers me some of her potato chips.
  • I decline

I’m a personal trainer dammit, and personal trainers don’t eat potato chips.

Fast forward 20 minutes…..

I am now sprawled out on the couch…..totally immersed in the game…..screaming at the referees for blowing another call….and absent mindedly reaching over and grabbing a handful of potato chips out of the bag…and then another…and then another

your unconscious mind is making you fat

WTF!!! What just happened?

I don’t eat potato chips….seriously. So what happened? Where did my will power go?

I’ll tell you what happened.

  • When my wife first offered the chips, my conscious mind did a quick pro/con calculation and decided to take a pass on the salty/greasy delight.
  • Soon after, my conscious mind became fixated on the hockey game.
  • Soon after that, my unconscious mind snuck behind the back of my conscious mind, and by using a mixture of sensory inputs, old memories, emotions, brain chemicals and hormones, managed to hijack my body and convince it that eating those chips was suddenly a great idea.

Damn you unconscious mind!!!.

  • This is a big reason why diets fail.
  • Your bad habits live in your unconscious mind.
  • Your bad habits have built up powerful connections within your mind and body.

And if you let your unconscious mind run the show, you WILL return time and again to your old habits…your over-eating, under-exercising, making you fat kind of bad habits…

Next PageThe Unconscious Mind…and why it loves making you fat…

Like this article?

Subscribe to @healthhabits and my friends at Mail Chimp will make sure that every time I scribble an article for @healthhabits, it will end up in your email inbox.

In addition to the articles, I will be writing a series of Special Reports this year exclusively for @healthhabits subscribers.

Subscribe now and make sure you don’t miss out.

button subscribe

What Happens When Superstar Athletes Endorse Junk Food

  • In a free market, superstar athletes like Peyton Manning, LeBron James and Serena Williams are free to negotiate celebrity endorsement contracts with any company that they choose.

lebron sprite

  • In a free market, parents, pediatricians, anti-obesity advocates and health & fitness nerds like myself are free to be peeved that superstar athletes like Peyton Manning, LeBron James and Serena Williams choose to endorse products with a direct link to childhood obesity, Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, etc.


  • In a free market, anti-obesity advocates like Yale’s Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity are free to research which superstar athletes are most likely to trade their celebrity status with children for big endorsement contracts with companies who market  products with a direct link to childhood obesity, Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, etc.

athletes market junk food

  • In a free market, anti-obesity advocates like Yale’s Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity are also free to distribute that research to the media in an attempt to shame superstar athletes like Peyton Manning, LeBron James and Serena Williams about their decision to endorse products that threaten the health of their young fans.


  • In a free market, public health experts are free to postulate what would happen if superstar athletes like Peyton Manning, LeBron James and Serena Williams had been exposed to the same kind of celebrity endorsed messages that today’s kids are exposed to.

fat lebron

  • In a free market, we are free to absolve Big Food corporations of any & all responsibility and choose to heap all the blame on the parents who buy their children junk food.
  • In a free market, we are also free to recognize that childhood obesity isn’t as simple as “blame the parents” or “blame the corporations” or “blame the government”, and that parents, government, food producers and superstar athletes like Peyton Manning, LeBron James and Serena Williams have all played a role in the obesification of our children.
  1. Parents feed their kids too much junk food.
  2. Government officials are manipulated by the lobbyists of Big Food producers into placing corporate profits ahead of the health of our children as well as the exploding healthcare costs that threaten the financial health of our countries.
  3. And superstar athletes (and other celebrity endorsers) ignore the reality that the kids who look up to them are being harmed by their financial decisions.
  • In a free market, we are free to use social media to tell our sports heroes that we want them to stop selling junk food to our kids
Click to expand
Click to expand
  • In a free market, we are free to tell our politicians to cut junk food subsidies, promote healthy eating and to force Big Food producers to stop advertising junk food to our pre-teen children.


  • In a free market, we are also free to accept our share of the responsibility and stop feeding our children huge quantities of junk food.


Childhood obesity is a real threat to the future health of our children and there is more than enough blame to go around.

What Now???

  • If you want to check out the study looking at superstar athletes and their involvement shilling for junk food companies, head over to the Rudd Center website and read it – Athlete Endorsements in Food Marketing – Pediatrics
  • If you want to apply some pressure on the athletes named in the study, go to their social media profiles (Twitter & Facebook are a good place to start) and tell them that you are not impressed. You can also contact the teams that they play for and tell them that you are not impressed with the behaviour of their employee.
  • If you want to apply pressure to the government, write/email/call your representatives directly and tell them that you expect them to start putting the health of young kids ahead of the health of corporate balance sheets.
  • And if you want to apply pressure to the producers of junk food….STOP BUYING JUNK FOOD FOR YOUR KIDS.


What do you think?

  • As a parent, do you appreciate Peyton, LeBron and Serena telling your kids to eat junk food?
  • How would you feel if they were advertising cigarettes or alcohol?
  • Should today’s athletes be expected to project an positive image of health & fitness?
  • If an athlete’s image is tarnished for taking PEDs, shouldn’t it be tarnished for marketing junk food to children?
  • Do athletes in team sports have a duty to their team to project an image of sportsmanship, athleticism,etc?
  • Do you consider the modern athlete a positive role model for our kids?
  • Do you appreciate junk food producers running advertisements on programs/websites dedicated to pre-teens?
  • Do employees of junk food producers have an ethical responsibility to not manipulate pre-teens?
  • Tobacco, alcohol and firearm producers are prohibited from marketing to children…why not producers of products that promote obesity, diabetes and heart disease?
  • Should our political representatives be placing the health of our children above the profits of junk food producers?
  • Should our politicians be placing the profits and jobs of junk food producers over the health of our children?
  • Should parents stop their kids from watching tv shows with ads for junk food?
  • Should parents contact tv networks to complain about junk food advertising aimed at their kids?
  • Should parents contact their politicians and demand expanded limitations on marketing products to children?
  • Should parents teach their kids about what advertisers are trying to do by running ads during Sesame Street et al?
  • Should parents be teaching their kids about living a healthy lifestyle?
  • Should parents ignore their kids demands for junk food?
  • Should parents feed their kids healthy food most of the time?
  • Should parents eat healthy and teach their kids by example?
  • Should I take a chill pill and stop stressing about junk food producers trying to brainwash our kids, politicians placing their financial wants over the health of our kids and parents abandoning their responsibilities and feeding their kids junk food every day???


99% of children are not getting enough exercise

Canada’s physical activity guidelines suggest that all children aged 5 to 17 years accumulate at least 60 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity every day.

Unfortunately,  99.5% of the 856 schoolkids (aged 10-12 years) enrolled in this study did NOT reach that 60 minute minimum.


In fact, of the average 16.7 hours per day of data collected per day, the average child spent…

  • 13.3 hours (79.6%) being sedentary.
  • 2.9 hours of their day (17.4%) engaged in light intensity activity
  • and only 35 minutes for boys and 24 minutes for girls in the moderate-to-vigorous and vigorous activity ranges

Sadly, none of the girls and only 0.5% of the boys met the required minimum of 60 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA) every day.

[box type=”note”]If you’re wondering what happened to the 24 – 16.7 =  7.3 hours that weren’t tracked by pedometer…..these were the hours that the ‘average kid’ spent SLEEPING.[/box]

Here is some more data for you to chew on…

  • 22.6% of boys  performed 30 minutes of MVPA per day at least 6 days per week
  • 5.4% of girls performed 30 minutes of MVPA per day at least 6 days per week
  • 71.8% of boys accumulated 30 minutes of MVPA at least 3 days per week
  • 39.6% of girls accumulated 30 minutes of MVPA at least 3 days per week
  • Not a single child accumulated at least 90 minutes of MVPA at least 6 days of the week
  • Only 2% achieved 90 minutes of MVPA on at least 2 days of the week (3.3% of boys, 0.9% of girls)
  • When we drop the frequency down to 1 day per week, we see 16.8% of the kids performing 90 minutes of MVPA – with approximately 10% more boys than girls doing so (22.3% and 12.3%, respectively)


Our kids simply aren’t getting enough exercise….is it really so surprising that more and more of them are obese and being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.


This study was conducted in urban Toronto. I have no idea how directly to apply this data to rural communities of other communities outside of Ontario, Canada. But I wouldn’t be surprised if the kids in your hometown are just as lazy as the ones in Toronto.


Like this article???

If you like this article, don’t forget to subscribe to @healthhabits. When you subscribe, my friends at MailChimp will make sure to send you an email every time I post something new here at the blog.

As well, you also get access to the series of Supplement Reports that I am publishing this year.

button subscribe

A Plan to Reverse Childhood Obesity

In January 2012, the Ontario Government got serious about childhood obesity and created the multisectoral Healthy Kids Panel …asking them to sketch out a framework designed to help us reduce childhood obesity by 20 per cent within five years.

Here is what they came back with:

1. Start All Kids on the Path to Health

1.1 Educate women of child-bearing age about the impact of their health and weight on their own well-being and on the health and well-being of their children.
1.2 Enhance primary and obstetrical care to include a standard pre-pregnancy health check and wellness visit for women planning a pregnancy and their partners.
1.3 Adopt a standardized prenatal education curriculum and ensure courses are accessible and affordable for all women.
1.4 Support and encourage breastfeeding for at least the first six months of life.
1.5 Leverage well-baby and childhood immunization visits to promote healthy weights and enhance surveillance and early intervention.


2. Change the Food Environment

2.1 Ban the marketing of high-calorie, low-nutrient foods, beverages and snacks to children under age 12.
2.2 Ban point-of-sale promotions and displays of high-calorie, low-nutrient foods and beverages in retail settings, beginning with sugar-sweetened beverages.
2.3 Require all restaurants, including fast food outlets and retail grocery stores, to list the calories in each item on their menus and to make this information visible on menu boards.
2.4 Encourage food retailers to adopt transparent, easy-to-understand, standard, objective nutrition rating systems for the products in their stores.
2.5 Support the use of Canada’s Food Guide and the nutrition facts panel.
2.6 Provide incentives for Ontario food growers and producers, food distributors, corporate food retailers, and non-governmental organizations to support community-based food distribution programs.
2.7 Provide incentives for food retailers to develop stores in food deserts.
2.8 Establish a universal school nutrition program for all Ontario publicly funded elementary and secondary schools.
2.9 Establish a universal school nutrition program for First Nations communities.
2.10 Develop a single standard guideline for food and beverages served or sold where children play and learn.


3. Create Healthy Communities

3.1 Develop a comprehensive healthy kids social marketing program that focuses on healthy eating, active living – including active transportation – mental health and adequate sleep.
3.2 Join EPODE (Ensemble Prévenons l’Obesité des Enfants – Together Let’s Prevent Childhood Obesity) International and adopt a co-ordinated, communitydriven approach to developing healthy communities for kids.
3.3 Make schools hubs for child health and community engagement.
3.4 Create healthy environments for preschool children.
3.5 Develop the knowledge and skills of key professions to support parents in raising healthy kids.
3.6 Speed implementation of the Poverty Reduction Strategy.
3.7 Continue to implement the Mental Health and Addictions Strategy.
3.8 Ensure families have timely access to specialized obesity programs when needed.

Unfortunately,  Canadian media ignored the entire report, except for the proposed ban on marketing high-calorie, low-nutrient foods, beverages and snacks to children under age 12.

Instead of focusing on the health of our kids, they decided that the real story was the potential restriction of the rights of processed food producers to convince our children to crave ‘food’ that promotes obesity, heart disease, diabetes and cancer.

Well done Canadian media…I’m looking forward to your next story on childhood obesity and how we have to do something about it.



How to (not) Make Your Child a Junk Food Addict

Obviously no one wants to make their child a junk food addict.

Unfortunately…a new study out of Australia (conducted on rats) “suggests that pregnant mothers who consume junk food actually cause changes in the development of the opioid signaling pathway in the brains of their unborn children. This change results in the babies being less sensitive to opioids, which are released upon consumption of foods that are high in fat and sugar.

In turn, these children, born with a higher “tolerance” to junk food need to eat more of it to achieve a “feel good” response.

The Science

Researcher fed one group of soon-to-be-a-mommy rats a normal rat food diet and a second group a range of human “junk foods” during pregnancy and lactation.

Junk Food Diet

  • peanut butter,
  • hazelnut spread,
  • chocolate-flavored biscuits (cookies),
  • extruded savory snacks,
  • sweetened multigrain breakfast cereal,
  • ham- and chicken-flavored processed meat,
  • and a mixture of lard and standard rat chow

After the rat pups were weaned, the pups were given daily injections of an opioid receptor blocker….which blocks opioid signaling. This in turn lowers the intake of fat and sugar by preventing the release of dopamine.

Test results showed that the opioid receptor blocker was less effective at reducing fat and sugar intake in the pups of the junk food fed mothers, suggesting that “perinatal exposure to high-fat, high-sugar diets results in altered development of the central reward system, resulting in increased fat intake and altered response of the reward system to excessive junk-food intake in postnatal life“.

Or in layman’s terms…Garbage In : Garbage Out.



A Really, Really, Really, Really Good Reason to Prevent Childhood Obesity

Early this morning…while waiting in line for my morning cup of joe, I watched an overweight mom buy her obese daughter a giant chocolate chip muffin.

About two hours later, I read this study which examines how obesity promotes the growth of cancerous tumors.


In the first part of the research, the scientists found that tumors grew much faster in obese mice than they did in lean mice. They also observed that there were far more white adipose tissue cells (called adipose stromal cells) in obese mice than in lean mice and thus turned their focus on the role of these cells.

In the second part of the research, they found that these adipose stromal cells were being incorporated into tumor-associated blood vessels. And since tumor-associated blood vessels serve to increase tumor growth by feeding them oxygen and nutrients…this isn’t a good thing.

The researchers noted that “the ability of adipose stromal cells to contribute to the formation of tumor-associated blood vessels is likely one of the main reasons that the excess of these cells in tumors was associated with increased malignant cell proliferation and tumor growth”.

Or in other words….your body takes cells from your fat tissue and uses them to feed cancerous tumors.

Not good….and just another reason why it drives me nuts when otherwise caring parents let their kids become obese.

[box type=”important”]If you know any parents who need a wake-up call regarding the health of their little butterballs….please forward them this article[/box]


Childhood Obesity: Bruised Feelings v.s. Logic

Childhood obesity is a significant health issue in America and around the world.

Unfortunately for America’s little butterballs, they live in a world where….

  1. Everyone want quick fixes to complex problems
  2. Gov’t & NGOs think that education is the cure-all for obesity & related diseases
  3. Way too many people feel that their bruised feelings trump logic & common sense.

Exhibit #1

Minnesota Blue Cross released the following two videos as part of their ‘Better Example’ anti-obesity campaign. The gist of the videos is that parents need to start setting a better example for their kids by making healthier food choices.

Makes sense to me….parents eat junk food…kids eat junk food…parents eat healthy food…kids eat healthy food…parents are lazy…kids are lazy…parents are physically active…kids are physically active.

Monkey see Monkey do….Unfortunately, not everyone sees it this way.

Some people see this anti-obesity campaign as:

  • A personal attack directed at them

I know no one will ever believe me when I say this, so fine. Whatever. But since, apparently, this isn’t evident even among health professionals churning out ad campaigns, I do not fucking eat chocolate cereal and buckets of ice cream. Here is what I actually do: Pretty much every morning before work I walk 1.1 miles uphill to a coffee shop, which is across the street from the organic co-op where I do all my grocery shopping. I eat normal, human amounts of unprocessed, fresh, largely local foods. I have no mobility problems. I have flawless cholesterol and blood pressure. I never get colds, I have never been hospitalized. I have a great job, I make a good living, I’m in an incredibly happy relationship. Sometimes I eat dessert, sometimes I don’t. I pay taxes. I take care of my family. I do not commit crimes. I’m nice to strangers. In general, I think you could say that I contribute more to the world than I take out of it.

And I’m a fucking epidemic? I’m a problem?

You have the gall to make generalizations about my life because, in your eyes, I superficially resemble a massive, diverse swath of the population whose lives you’ve also deigned to generalize? Whose complex, painful, messy, joyous lives you’ve boiled down to, “Har har too many Cheetos”? Please.

Even if I did eat a bucket of pancake-flavored ice cream for breakfast, burrito ice cream for lunch, and salisbury steak ice cream for dinner (OMPH GROMPH GROMPH), I still shouldn’t have to justify my existence to the world in the way I just did. But the fact that I exist, and I am not the sinister straw-fatty pictured in the above commercial—doesn’t it seem likely that there are other fat people like me out there who also aren’t lying about their lifestyles? And in that case, isn’t this commercial FUCKING USELESS NONSENSE? Congratulations! You guys totally “got serious” and took down not-the-problem-at-all.

Lindy West – Jezebel

  • Systemic prejudice against obese people

There have always been fat people. There are fat people like me, who hardly ever eat any processed foods. There are fat people with glandular issues. There are disabled fat people who would love to exercise but can’t. There are healthy fat people. And sure, there are fat people who—fuck it—just really really like Cheetos. Guess what? Those people are allowed to exist too! There are a million different kinds of fat people in the world because FAT PEOPLE ARE PEOPLE. And kids are people. And if your solution to this “problem” is telling already vulnerable fat kids that they’re an epidemic that’s ruining the world, then fuck you.

Sheeeeesh…what a cry-baby.

She actually makes some cogent arguments about how America’s food production & distribution companies need to accept responsibility for creating an obesogenic marketplace, but she totally blows it by whining about how mean everyone is being to her.

The Facts…as I see ’em

  • Obesity is caused by a mixture of nature & nurture
  • We can’t do anything about nature – your DNA is your DNA – deal with it
  • We can do something about nurture – develop Health Habits
  • The world is full of a-holes who like to insult people based on their obesity, skin color, sexuality, height, lack of hair, abundance of hair, clothing, musical preferences, etc…

Quit acting like a victim, take responsibility for your life and grow a thicker skin


TV and Your Child’s Health

This shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone, but….when a group of researchers recently reviewed 12 studies in which the relationship between television viewing and diet was assessed in children between the ages of 2 and 6….”all but one study reported significant relationship between television viewing time and adverse dietary outcomes“.

  • More tv viewing = less fruit & vegetable consumption
  • More tv viewing = increased caloric consumption

And as if this wasn’t bad enough…the researchers concluded that these “adverse dietary outcomes occurred with as little as 1 hour of daily television exposure“.

1 HOUR!!!

  • The message to parents?
  • Stop plunking your three year old down in front of the tv.


Like this article???

If you like this article, don’t forget to subscribe to @healthhabits. When you subscribe, my friends at MailChimp will make sure to send you an email every time I post something new here at the blog.

As well, you also get access to the series of Supplement Reports that I am publishing this year.

button subscribe

Childhood Obesity is Making Your Kid Stupid

Today’s parents live insanely busy lives.

And this means that sometimes….their kids eat microwave pizza & ice cream while staring at a screen instead of eating of eating a healthy home-cooked meal with the entire family.

Unfortunately, these “sometimes” are quickly becoming “all-the-times” and more and more of our kids are being diagnosed with Metabolic Syndrome  – obesity (especially belly fat), insulin resistance, hypertension, low HDL cholesterol, high triglycerides.

As if this wasn’t bad enough, researchers have discovered that adolescents diagnosed with Metabolic Syndrome are not only at higher risk for:

  • heart disease,
  • type 2 diabetes,
  • stroke,
  • kidney disease,
  • and poor blood supply to the legs

They also have:

  • smaller hippocampal volumes,
  • increased brain cerebrospinal fluid,
  • and reductions of microstructural integrity in major white matter tracts

Which results in…

  • impaired mathematics performance
  • impaired spelling performance
  • impaired ability to pay attention
  • impaired mental flexibility
  • and a trend towards lower overall intelligence

And if this isn’t scary enough…

The researchers have no idea if:

  1. these brain abnormalities & cognitive deficiencies will continue to get worse as our kids age,
  2. these brain abnormalities & cognitive deficiencies are reversible with weight loss and reversal of the other Met Syn symptoms.


Childhood obesity is no joke…We are thoroughly screwing up our kids.


Like this article???

If you like this article, don’t forget to subscribe to @healthhabits. When you subscribe, my friends at MailChimp will make sure to send you an email every time I post something new here at the blog.

As well, you also get access to the series of Supplement Reports that I am publishing this year.

button subscribe

Childhood Obesity Leads to Heart Disease

Dutch researchers have found that 2/3 of severely obese children (aged 2–18 yrs) have been diagnosed with at least one cardiovascular risk factor:

  • 56% of the kids had hypertension,
  • 14% had high blood glucose,
  • 0.7% had type 2 diabetes,
  • 54% had low HDL-cholesterol

Even scarier….62% of severely obese children aged ≤12 years already had one or more cardiovascular risk factors.

Study Highlights

  • The definition of severe obesity started at a body mass index (BMI) of 20.5 for a 2 year old, at 31 for a 12 year old, and at 35 for an 18 year old.
  • Only one child’s obesity was attributable to medical rather than lifestyle factors.
  • Nearly one in three severely obese children came from one parent families.

Study Conclusion

“The prevalence of impaired fasting glucose in these children is worrying, considering the increasing prevalence worldwide of type 2 diabetes in children and adolescents,” write the authors. “Likewise, the high prevalence of hypertension and abnormal lipids may lead to cardiovascular disease in young adulthood,” they add. And they conclude: “Internationally accepted criteria for defining childhood obesity and guidelines for early detection and treatment of severe childhood obesity and underlying ill health are urgently needed.”

My Conclusion

Childhood obesity isn’t cute… and parents who enable it are doing their kids a HUGE disservice. 



I am the difference between fatness and fitness


Like this article???

If you like this article, don’t forget to subscribe to @healthhabits. When you subscribe, my friends at MailChimp will make sure to send you an email every time I post something new here at the blog.

As well, you also get access to the series of Supplement Reports that I am publishing this year.

button subscribe

Are Overprotective Parents the Cause of Childhood Obesity?

Back in the olden days (the 1980s), me and my friends would race home from school, dump our schoolbags in our rooms, shove some leftovers down our gullets and run back outside to play road hockey (or baseball, football, etc) until…

  • it became too dark to see
  • or our Moms dragged us back inside for dinner & homework

Fast forward to 2012…

  • 46% of Canadian kids get 3 hours or less of active play per week
  • Only 35% of Canadian kids walk or ride their bikes to school
  • The average Canadian kid gets 7 hours and 48 minutes of screen time every day
  • As a result, Canadian kids spend 63% of their free time being sedentary
  • And they’re even less active on weekends than on school days

And according to Active Healthy Kids Canada, “two of the major barriers to regular, active play in Canadian kids are screen time and parental safety concerns. In combination, these societal realities force children and youth into highly-controlled environments, where they have little opportunity to let loose and just play“.

Play…like we all did back in the good old days…before the world became a scary place and we needed to start bubble-wrapping our kids to keep them safe.

Fifty-eight per cent of Canadian parents say they are very concerned about keeping their children safe and feel they “have to be over-protective of them in this world.” Safety concerns, whether or not they are founded, such as crime, traffic, neighbourhood danger, outdoor darkness and lack of supervision, discourage parents from letting their children and teens play outdoors.

And as a result, our precious little bundles of joy are fat and borderline diabetic.

NoteWhile this data is Canadian, I’m willing to bet that it isn’t unique to Canada.


Like this article???

If you like this article, don’t forget to subscribe to @healthhabits. When you subscribe, my friends at MailChimp will make sure to send you an email every time I post something new here at the blog.

As well, you also get access to the series of Supplement Reports that I am publishing this year.

button subscribe

45 Reasons Why America is Obese

America…like other countries… is getting fatter day after day after day. And if you listen to the mainstream media / medical “experts”, most will tell you that it’s all about Calories in vs Calories Out. A small minority will reference the power of insulin while some obesity-apologists will blame their DNA.

So, I raise the question….Is there a one size fits all cause and/or cure for obesity?

Or are there a whole bunch of factors coming together to create America’s obesity epidemic?

To aid in the discussion, I have put together a partial list of the factors that I think influence human obesity.

45 Unique Causes of Obesity


  • Quantity of food – Calories
  • Quantity of food – Volume
  • Type and Quality of food – Macronutrients – Carbs, Fat, Protein
  • Type and Quality of food – MicronutrientsVitamins, Minerals, Enzymes, Phytochemicals, etc…
  • Type and Quality of food – Nutrient Density v.s Caloric Density
  • Your beliefs and emotions regarding food – food as pleasure, food as fuel
  • Dining habits – eat on the run vs sit down dinner

Pizza Hut Hot Dog stuffed crust pizza


Next Page – Your Body…

Like this article???

If you like this article, don’t forget to subscribe to @healthhabits. When you subscribe, my friends at MailChimp will make sure to send you an email every time I post something new here at the blog.

As well, you also get access to the series of Supplement Reports that I am publishing this year.

button subscribe

Childhood Obesity : A Primer for Parents

Having an obese child doesn’t make you a bad parent.

  • Uninformed : MAYBE
  • Bad : NO
  1. Processed food producers spend an ungodly amount of money learning what type of foods encourage overeating…and over-purchasing. Sugars, fats, processing techniques, flavor enhancing chemicals, etc.
  2. In addition to the bio-chemsitry, then spend big bucks on neuro-psychology to determine how your eyes and brain can be manipulated while you shop. Believe it or not, there is a lot of science behind product placement and purchasing decisions.
  3. Moving on to the science of manipulation, our food producers also spend huge amounts of money creating and delivering marketing campaigns aimed directly at your kids….knowing that if they get them while they’re young, they will have them for life. Creepy – YES…but also very effective.
  4. And if that wasn’t enough, they also spend a lot of money employing lobbyists to protect their interests within government, generate massive food subsidies and to block any legislation limiting their influence over our kids.

Put it all together and it’s not too surprising that our kids keep getting fatter and fatter.

Luckily, there are solutions.

  • Informed parents can make better food and activity choices for their kids.
  • Informed parents can tell their government that they don’t like advertising directed at their pre-pubescent children.
  • Informed parents can bring attention (thank you social media) to the political manipulation that makes a mockery of the Free Market.
  • Informed parents can talk to other parents and local government to improve access to healthy foods in their neighborhood.
  • Informed parents can take advantage of existing grants and support organizations to improve the walkability and “playability” of their neighborhoods

And how does a parent get informed?

Here’s a good place to start.

Other Resources

Childhood Obesity : Monkey See Monkey Do

Attention Parents!!!

Researchers have discovered the cure for childhood obesity.

Unfortunately for your addiction to stuffed-crust pizza…..the cure is for YOU to lose weight FIRST.

“We looked at things such as parenting skills and styles, or changing the home food environment, and how they impacted a child’s weight,” said Kerri N. Boutelle, PhD. “The number one way in which parents can help an obese child lose weight is to lose weight themselves. In this study, it was the most important predictor of child weight loss.

Parents are the most significant people in a child’s environment, serving as the first and most important teachers,” said Boutelle “They play a significant role in any weight-loss program for children, and this study confirms the importance of their example in establishing healthy eating and exercise behaviors for their kids.”

The Science

80 parent-child groups with an 8-12 year old overweight or obese child were enrolled into either:

  • A parent-only treatment program, or a
  • Parent + child treatment program

Both programs ran for 5 months and focused on evaluating the impact of three types of parenting skills taught in family-based behavioral treatment for childhood obesity, and the impact of each on the child’s body weight:

  • the parent modeling behaviors to promote their own weight loss,
  • changes in home food environment, and
  • parenting style and techniques (for example, a parent’s ability to help limit the child’s eating behavior, encouraging the child and participating in program activities)

The Results?

Consistent with previously published research, parent BMI change was the only significant predictor of child’s weight loss.


Monkey See : Monkey Do

If your kid is obese and you’re worried about their future, it’s up to YOU to do something about it.


NYC Escalates War Against Childhood Obesity

New York City’s Department of Health & Human Services has escalated their war against childhood obesity with their latest  ad campaign urging New Yorkers to be more aware of portion sizes – and how they have increased – when choosing what to eat or drink.

Their concern is that the quantity of food served in a “medium” or “large” order is significantly greater today than in previous years.

In the last 50 years, for example, the serving sizes of sugary drinks quadrupled and french fries nearly tripled. With a few casual selections, a single meal could balloon to contain many more calories than the amount an adult needs for an entire day.

And based on the “growth” of our kids over the past few decades, I would have to agree

For more info, check out their Portion Size Fact Sheet, or check out a whole pile of awesome Health Habits articles on childhood obesity.

Stop Sugarcoating Childhood Obesity

The State of Georgia has created an anti-childhood obesity program that has upset various:

  • fat-acceptance groups
  • anti-obesity advocates, and
  • child-protection experts

They’re concerned that the print/tv/online ads used in this campaign will backfire and cause obese kids to face increased bullying and result in lower self-esteem, depression, and even worse eating behaviors…resulting in even greater levels of obesity and decreased levels of overall health.

And they might be right…if these ads were the only tool being used by the people at Strong4Life.

But it isn’t…as explained during this interview on The Today Show

  • Phase 1 is designed to grab attention…which it has done.
  • Phase 1 is designed to help parents understand that childhood obesity has very real consequences upon the health and happiness of their children
  • Phase 1 is NOT about solutions.

The solutions being proposed by Strong4Life come in Phases 2 & 3.

Hopefully they’ll be spending just as much money and receiving just as much media attention on their message of healthy eating and increased physical activity.

Is Obesity Child Abuse?

An eight year old Cleveland boy was recently taken from his family and placed in foster care after case workers said that his mother wasn’t doing enough to control his weight.

The child in question is over 200 lbs – the average 8 yr old boy is 56 lbs.

Lawyers for the mother argue that the county “overreached” in taking her son, saying the kid’s health is not in imminent danger.

“They are trying to make it seem like I am unfit, like I don’t love my child,” the boy’s mother. “Of course I love him. Of course I want him to lose weight. It’s a lifestyle change, and they are trying to make it seem like I am not embracing that. It is very hard, but I am trying.”

What do you think?

And if you do agree that childhood obesity is child abuse, what do you think that “society” should do about it?

The Ohio state health department estimates more than 12 percent of third-graders statewide are severely obese.

  • Do we take all those severely obese children away from their parents?

What about your neighborhood?

  • Would you be okay with your local children’s aid society taking away 12% of the kids in your neighborhood?
  • And why stop at obesity?

Without crappy parents, we wouldn’t have so many junkies, murderers, rapists, perverts, etc…

Even the best parents screw up their kids in some way.

And as much as it pisses me off to see parents enabling their kid’s obesity, I just don’t see how putting all our severely obese kids into foster homes makes any sense on a large scale.

But that’s just my opinion.


Childhood Obesity, Junk Food Profits and the U.S. Congress

Earlier this year, an interagency working group, made up of the Federal Trade Commission, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Food and Drug Administration, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, announced that they would be recommending that America’s food producers should voluntarily end all food advertising to children unless they were for healthy choices, such as whole grains, fresh fruits or vegetables.

Key words: recommending, voluntarily, children and healthy.

This first draft of voluntary guidelines set  maximum levels of fat, sugars and sodium, among other requirements, and asks food companies not to market foods that go beyond those parameters to children ages 2 through 17. The guidelines would apply to many mediums, including ads on television, in stores and on the Internet, in an effort to stem rising obesity levels.

Under the original proposal, salty, fatty or very sweet foods or foods with trans fats would no longer be advertised to children, defined as age 17 or under.

Once again… Key words: recommending, voluntarily, children and healthy.

In response, the food industry, backed by House Republicans, has aggressively lobbied against the voluntary guidelines, saying they are too broad and would limit marketing of almost all of the nation’s favorite foods, including some yogurts and many children’s cereals. Though the guidelines would be voluntary, food companies say they fear the government will retaliate against them if they don’t go along.

Officials from the Federal Trade Commission, the Agriculture Department and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, who jointly wrote the guidelines, will on Wednesday face the Republican-led House Energy and Commerce Committee, which has already made its distaste for the proposal clear. In a letter last month, Republicans on the committee wrote the agencies and called the (voluntary) guidelines “little better than a shot in the dark.”

Following the industry objections, the congressional pushback and a public comment period on the proposal, the government agencies involved appear to be softening their approach.

In testimony released by the committee before the hearing, David Vladeck, director of the Federal Trade Commission’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, said the coalition of government agencies is “in the midst of making significant revisions to the original proposal.

Among the changes he suggested are narrowing the age group targeted and focusing on children aged 2 to 11 instead of up to age 17 and allowing marketing of the unhealthier foods at fundraisers and sporting events. Vladeck also said that his agency would not recommend that companies change packaging or remove brand characters from food products that don’t qualify, as was originally suggested in the guidelines.

“Those elements of packaging, though appealing to children, are also elements of marketing to a broader audience and are inextricably linked to the food’s brand identity,” Vladeck says in prepared testimony. Tony the Tiger is well-known as the mascot for Frosted Flakes and Toucan Sam for Froot Loops, both Kelloggs’ cereals.

So, there you go. Democracy in action.

  • Companies market questionable food-like products directly to children.
  • Parents and special interest groups bring attention to this business practice
  • Government investigates and prepares a series of voluntary recommendations
  • Lobbyists for the affected food producers work hard in an attempt to dilute the voluntary recommendations
  • Congress supports the position of the food lobby
  • Recommendations are watered-down
  • Food producers resume original marketing practices
  • Children influenced by said marketing grow up to be obese adults still affected by said marketing practices
  • Continuing increases in systemic obesity, diabetes, metabolic syndrome et al drive healthcare costs up and quality of life down




Childhood Obesity, Breakfast Cereal and Whiny Kids

Last week, while shopping for groceries, I happened upon a scene familiar to many parents.

Passing the breakfast cereal aisle, my ears picked up the less-than-angelic tones of a 7 year old child screaming at her mother that she needed a specific brand of cereal and that she would hate her mom forever if she dared to purchase a product not endorsed by the appropriate cartoon character.

Luckily for the little girl’s growing pancreas, her mom didn’t give in to the blackmail.

But, it made me wonder.

  • How many parents would have given in?
  • How many parents would break under the strain of incessant nagging?
  • How many parents would sacrifice their child’s health in return for some peace & quiet?

Researchers at Johns Hopkins School of Public Health have recently examined this “Nag Factor”.

Described as “the tendency of children, who are bombarded with marketers’ messages, to unrelentingly request advertised items”, researchers explored whether and how mothers of young children have experienced this phenomenon and their strategies for coping.”

Here’s what they found.

According to study author Dina Borzekowski, “it’s clear that children are not the primary shoppers in the households, so how do child-oriented, low-nutrition foods and beverages enter the homes and diets of young children?

Our study indicates that while overall media use was not associated with nagging, one’s familiarity with commercial television characters was significantly associated with overall and specific types of nagging.

In addition, mothers cited packaging, characters, and commercials as the three main forces compelling their children to nag.”

Using quantitative and qualitative methodologies, researchers interviewed 64 mothers of children ages 3 to 5 years.

Mothers answered questions about the household environment, themselves, their child’s demographics, media use, eating and shopping patterns, and requests for advertised items.

Participants were also asked to describe their experiences and strategies for dealing with the “Nag Factor.” Researchers selected mothers as interview subjects because they are most likely to act as “nutritional gatekeepers” for their household and control the food purchasing and preparation for small children.

They found that nagging seemed to fall into three categories:

  • juvenile nagging,
  • nagging to test boundaries,
  • and manipulative nagging.

Mothers consistently cited 10 strategies for dealing with the nagging; the strategies included:

  • giving in,
  • yelling,
  • ignoring,
  • distracting,
  • staying calm and consistent,
  • avoiding the commercial environment,
  • negotiating and setting rules,
  • allowing alternative items,
  • explaining the reasoning behind choices,
  • and limiting commercial exposure.

And after sifting through all the data, the researchers determined that :

  1. manipulative nagging and overall nagging increased with the age of the child.
  2. 36% of mothers recommended limiting commercial exposure as an effective strategy, while
  3. 35% of mothers suggested simply explaining to children the reasons behind making or not making certain purchases.
  4. Giving in was consistently cited as one of the least effective strategies.


  • Kids are influenced by marketing messages.
  • Kids respond to those marketing messages by emotionally blackmailing their parents
  • Parents who give in to emotional blackmail are making a big mistake.

For the sake of their kid’s health, and their own sanity, parents need to fight back.

Fight back by slapping a household ban on breakfast cereals and other junk foods that use movies & cartoon characters to manipulate our kids.



The Chubby Baby Workout

The Institute of Medicine is warning America’s pediatricians, parents, and policymakers that:

  1. Obese babies often become obese adults, but
  2. With a few simple lifestyle changes, pot-bellied Chicken McNugget eating infants can quickly & easily become buffed, one-armed push-upping super toddlers.

Here are the tips:

Identifying At-Risk Children

Studies show that many parents do not understand the consequences of excess weight in infants and young children or are not concerned about early excess weight or obesity, the committee found.

  • Health professionals should measure infants’ weight and length and the body mass index of young children as a standard procedure at every well-child visit.
  • They should identify children at risk for obesity and discuss with parents their children’s measurements and the risks linked to excess weight.

Sufficient Sleep

Evidence points to a relationship between insufficient sleep and obesity. Data indicate that over the past two decades there has been an overall decrease in the amount of sleep infants and children get, with the most pronounced declines among children less than 3 years old.

  • Regulatory agencies should require child care providers to promote healthy sleep durations in their facilities, the report recommends.
  • Pediatricians, early childhood educators, and other professionals who work with parents need to be trained to counsel them about age-appropriate sleep times and good sleep habits.

Physically Active Play and Sedentary Activities

  • Agencies that regulate child care facilities should require child care providers and early childhood educators to create opportunities and environments that encourage infants, toddlers, and preschoolers to be physically active throughout the day.
  • Child care providers should engage children in physically active play for a cumulative average of at least 15 minutes per hour spent in care, joining children in their activities, and getting children outdoors to play when and where possible. They also could avoid using restriction of play as a disciplinary measure.
  • Infants should be allowed to move freely with appropriate supervision.
  • Potential steps to achieve this goal include using cribs, car seats, and high chairs only for their intended purposes and limiting use of strollers, swings, and bouncing chairs.


  • Child care providers should limit television viewing and use of computers, mobile devices, and other digital technologies to less than two hours per day for children ages 2 to 5.
  • Child care facilities and preschools could advance this goal by restricting screen time of any form to 30 minutes in half-day programs and one hour in full-day programs.
  • Health care providers could counsel parents on the benefits of restricting screen time.
  • The appropriate federal agencies — including the Federal Trade Commission and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — will need to monitor industry compliance with voluntary national nutrition and marketing standards for children, which are currently being developed by an interagency task force.

Healthy Eating

  • Given that only 13 percent of mothers breast-feed exclusively for six months after birth, and only 22 percent continue breast-feeding up to a year, health care providers and organizations should step up efforts to encourage breast-feeding.
  • All hospitals should adopt the World Health Organization’s International Code of Marketing of Breast Milk Substitutes and the Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative, which limit samples and depictions of formula and help mothers initiate and continue breast-feeding.
  • All child care facilities and preschools should be required to follow the meal patterns established by the federal Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP), which reflect age-appropriate amounts of sugar, salt, and fat and necessary nutrients. CACFP standards promote fruits, vegetables, and whole grains and provide guidance on appropriate portion sizes for children at different ages.
  • The U.S. departments of Health and Human Services and Agriculture should establish dietary guidelines for children from birth through age 2. The U.S. Dietary Guidelines currently apply to age 2 and up.
  • Government officials should take steps to boost participation in nutrition assistance programs. More than one-third of those eligible for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and 40 percent of those eligible for WIC — a nutrition program aimed at women, infants, and children — do not take advantage of them.


Toronto's kids are lazy…How about yours?

According to this report by Get ACTIVE Toronto, 93 per cent of Toronto’s kids aren’t getting their recommended level (60 min) of daily activity. This includes walking to and from school.

In contrast, the average 12-19 year old Torontonian spends 2.75 hours in front of a computer or tv screen.

And it’s not just Toronto.

This U.S. research shows that 20% of Americans between the ages of 24 and 32 have high blood pressure.

We (the grown-ups) are turning our kids into unhealthy little butterballs.

  • We’ve cancelled P.E. classes in public schools
  • We can’t find teachers or volunteers to help coach sport teams
  • We drive our kids to school instead of letting them walk
  • We’re afraid to let them out to play after school
  • We feed them processed food instead of making something from scratch
  • We buy them X-Boxes instead of basketballs

So, what are you going to do about it?

  • Take away the video games?
  • Make a real meal for dinner tonight?
  • Sit down and eat with your kids at the dinner table?
  • Contact a group like Kaboom and help re-claim a playground for your kids?
  • Ask for guidance from groups like Get Active Toronto?
  • Pester your local politicians for help?
  • Ask your neighbors to pester your local politician?
  • Let your kid walk to school?
  • Shoot hoops with your kid after work?
  • Go for a walk with your kid?
  • Nothing?
  • Watch your kids get sick?
  • Watch our healthcare costs go through the roof?



Dr. Oz vs Childhood Obesity

Yesterday Dr. Oz asked a very controversial question: Is Child Obesity a form of Child Abuse?

And for a big health & fitness geek like myself, it was must-see tv.

  • We had “experts” blaming the parents,
  • We had parents blaming society,
  • We had experts advocating that courts should remove obese kids from their parents’ care,
  • We had other experts arguing that this would mess the kids up even more.
  • They talked about penalizing “bad” parents by removing child tax credits.
  • They talked about the hypocrisy of overweight adults telling other overweight adults that they are bad parents because their kids are overweight.
  • We even had one mom who felt that she shouldn’t have to stop eating bags of M&Ms just because her kid was fat.

In short, Dr. Oz took an incredibly complex issue and compressed it neatly into one hour of self-help tv. Not exactly enough time for a thorough examination of the issue, but it was a start.

And luckily for some parents, Dr. Oz has found a solution for America’s overweight children – The Wellspring Academy

Where for $78,000 per year, your obese child can:

  • learn all about healthy nutrition,
  • get plenty of exercise
  • receive psychological & lifestyle counselling
  • and lose a ton of weight

Too bad about the $78,000 per year pricetag.

If only some smart guy like Doctor Oz could think of a way to lower the cost and make it more accessible for those Americans without gold plated health insurance or a spare $78,000.

How about this?

  • What if we start by taking one public school in each big city and turn it into a charter school focused on promoting a healthy lifestyle and reducing the obesity levels of their students?
  • What if we re-install P.E. class?  We used to have teachers who knew how to teach P.E.
  • What if we re-install Home Ec class? – focusing on the most effective diet for weight loss and improving health.  We used to have teachers who knew how to do that.
  • With those two bases covered, all we need to add is the psychological/lifestyle counselling component of the Wellspring program. Perhaps the good people at Wellspring would be willing to make a few hundred million dollars by rolling out this part of their concept in public schools all across the country.

We already have the infrastructure.

We already have (or used to have) the P.E. and Home Ec teachers.

We’re already paying for the medical costs associated with childhood and adult obesity.

Why not redirect some of that medical spending towards prevention?


Let me know what you think


If you’re interested, I have added links to the videos from Dr. Oz’s show.


Is It Child Abuse to Have a Fat Child? Pt 1.

Is It Child Abuse to Have a Fat Child? Pt 2.

Is It Child Abuse to Have a Fat Child? Pt 3.

Is It Child Abuse to Have a Fat Child? Pt 4.

>Is It Child Abuse to Have a Fat Child? Pt 5.

Win the Fight Against Child Obesity, Pt 1.

Win the Fight Against Child Obesity, Pt 2.


Cure for Adolescent Obesity

Believe it or not….the latest medical research shows that adolescents (aged 15-19) who enrolled in a 12 month program of:

  • Aerobic training combined with
  • Resistance training

were able to significantly improve their levels of:

  • Body Mass
  • Body Mass Index
  • Fat Mass
  • Visceral Fat
  • % Obesity
  • Total Cholesterol
  • Waist Circumference
  • Blood Glucose
  • Adiponectin

fat kid boy teen boobs-1



This ain’t rocket science. If your teenager is overweight & out of shape, they NEED to exercise. And cleaning up their diet wouldn’t hurt either.

BTW, this advice doesn’t just work for adolescents.


Like this article???

If you like this article, don’t forget to subscribe to @healthhabits. When you subscribe, my friends at MailChimp will make sure to send you an email every time I post something new here at the blog.

As well, you also get access to the series of Supplement Reports that I am publishing this year.

button subscribe


This is how you sell exercise to America

If you are trying to sell something to America, how do you do it?

  • Celebrities
  • TV/Media
  • Excitement/Fun/Sexy

So why is it that when “the experts” try to convince America that it’s in bad shape and that it needs to drop a few pounds and get fit…they resort to boring education programs and pamphlets handed out at the doctor’s office.

That’s not how Sony sells Playstations or Ford sells cars or Beyoncé sells her music.

And that’s why I love this ad campaign for the “Let’s Move! Flash Workout”

This is how you sell exercise to America.

You create a marketing campaign that focuses on an A-List celebrity who is fit, healthy & sexy while not being an anorexic stick-figure. She is obviously proud of her body and enjoys being active and isn’t afraid to get sweaty.

Combine that with a hit song that makes you want to dance…and then throw in a group of happy looking people who match the appearance of your target demographic.

Then, you reduce the barriers to entry by providing easy, step by step instructions on how to be just like the kids in the video.

Now imagine what would happen if Let’s Move had the advertising budget of a major international corporation like Coca-Cola or Nike.

  • Imagine if different versions of this video were splashed all over tv & the interweb.
  • Imagine if new videos were created for other demographics.
  • Imagine if this marketing effort was part of a long-term, well funded, health promotion program.
  • Imagine if you were exposed to this type of advertising day after day, week after week, year after year.

Imagine if marketers could brainwash America into believing that being fit, active & healthy was fun, exciting, cool, sexy, etc…

This is how you sell exercise to America.

Fast Food, Fat Profits: Obesity in America

Seeing as most of us don’t watch a lot of Al Jazeera, you might have missed this documentary.

Take a look.


Poor Kids Get More Outdoor Exercise Than Rich Kids

Almost two years ago, I told you about a study in which researchers polled inner-city families about the perceived opportunities & barriers to physical activity in the great outdoors.

That study revealed three themes that influenced youngsters’ opportunities for physical activity, with positive and negative factors for each.

The first theme identified was “neighbourhood characteristics.”

  • Positive neighborhood characteristics include “walkable” neighborhoods with plenty of parks and playgrounds and nearby amenities.
  • Negative neighborhood characteristics include perceived “stranger danger” fears related to drug users, bullies, prostitutes, gang members and fear of abduction deterred children and youth from visiting these places.

The second theme was “family involvement.”

  • Researchers found that while children and youth were rarely allowed out alone, involvement by a family member, for example, accompanying them to a park to play, increased their engagement in physical activity.

The third theme was the “availability of adult-supervised programs.”

  • On the positive side, we have neighborhoods with a large variety of programs offered by dedicated, hard-working staff and volunteers.
  • Conversely, neighborhoods with minimal resources; poor staff and volunteer recruitment and retention, and little public knowledge of program availability suffered badly. Even when kids did sign up for available programs, there was a high dropout rate.

At that time, common sense told me that poor inner-city neighborhoods were less likely to be walkable and free from stranger-danger.

And since low income parents were more likely to work multiple jobs, they would never be able to find the time to play with their kids.

And forget about neighborhood programs, with the economy in the toilet, the first thing to go in government budgets are programs for the poor.

Those poor little fat kids were doomed to a life of junk food and basic cable.

busyness = happiness

So, how is it possible that in 2011, kids living in inner-city public housing actually spend more time playing outdoors than other city kids?

  • This new study found that 5-year-olds living in public housing played outside 13 percent more per day, on average, than did other urban 5-year-olds.
  • Even more surpisingly, children living in bad neighborhoods — areas with visible graffiti, trash, and abandoned homes — also played outside more per day.

This doesn’t make any sense.

These kids should be inside their crappy public housing apartments glued to the tv set and snacking on generic potato chips.

What kind of mother would let their kid run around outside in a bad neighborhood?

According to the study, mothers who:

  1. perceived that other neighborhood mothers & fathers would “intervene in certain situations (such as if a child were skipping school and hanging out on the street)” and…
  2. thought their neighborhoods were cohesive (neighbors willing to help their neighbors).

In fact, the researchers found that “children of mothers who perceived higher levels of collective efficacy in their neighborhoods played outside for longer periods each day, watched less television and visited the park or playground more often each week”.

“Maternal perceptions of neighborhood environments, both positive and negative, truly override objective measures, such as neighborhood poverty status, when considering children’s activities.

Given the importance of maternal perception, it becomes critical to create community-based programs that seek to facilitate trust and neighborhood social networks in these low-income, urban areas.”


I guess that proverb is right: “It does take a village to raise a child.”




NFL Players Build Playgrounds to Combat Childhood Obesity

The NFL’s Play 60 program has a simple goal: to get America’s kids to be active for at least 60 minutes a day.

And unlike other educational programs, the NFL is working hard to leverage the popularity of the league and it’s players to help reverse America’s childhood obesity epidemic.

Using an interactive website and a series of motivational PSAs, Play 60 is a rare example of how our obsession with celebrities can be used to make society better.

But is motivation enough?

What about the kids who live in neighborhoods without playgrounds or ballfields?

How are they supposed to Play 60?

Once again, the NFL (and friends) come to the rescue.

In partnership with Kaboom and a variety of corporate sponsors, NFL players have actually rolled up their sleeves and volunteered their sweat equity to help build playgrounds in neighborhoods low on cash but high in spirit.

And it’s a beautiful thing.

Now if only this small but amazing program could:

  1. get a little more national attention, and
  2. get a little more funding

Maybe America’s kids could break away from the XBox and the junk food.


So, if you would like to see the kids in your neighborhood climbing around on a new playground…get involved.

  • Re-tweet this post
  • Share it on Facebook
  • Email the link to your gov’t representatives – city, county, state, etc…
  • Or…if you’re really motivated, contact Kaboom and ask them how you can get directly involved.


p.s. – I want to thank one of my Twitter friends ( @ungaro ) for giving me the idea for this post.


A 1980s Solution to Childhood Obesity

Back in the 1980s, when I was a kid, me and the other kids in the neighborhood used to spend hours on the street beside my house playing road hockey.

During the week, we would get home from school, do our homework and then race outside and play until someone’s Mom started freaking out about getting ready for bed. On weekends, we would be running up and down that street for as long as we could see that crappy old tennis ball.

And while none of us made it to the NHL, none of us looked like this either…

And according to a new study, it looks like us sweaty little pre-teens had inadvertently discovered the cure for childhood obesity.

Following up on our research, British scientists have found that “boys and girls who take part in physical activity with their best friends in the neighbourhood where they live have higher levels of physical activity”.

And while the occasional game of tag isn’t going to make up for a diet loaded with pizza & pop, the countless hours we spent running around like a bunch of goofballs sure as heck did.

And it wasn’t just the time we spent exercising.

And today’s science backs that up.

“This research proves the strength of buddy power — simply exercising with a best friend or having a friend who is a good exercise role model increases the chance of a child keeping fit and active. We know that kids who exercise during childhood are more likely to continue these good habits as they grow up — reducing their risk of heart and circulatory disease”.

“We are currently faced with a generation of kids whose waistlines are expanding. This research shows that easy initiatives like encouraging your child to run around with their best friend could have a big impact on their health.”

And we’re not talking about organized sports.

We’re talking about a bunch of kids running around being goofballs…like kids are supposed to.




Toronto Health & Fitness Friday #2

Next summer, when your very expensive and very out of shape teenage children shuffle up to you and announce that they’re bored and that they have nothing to do, send them over to the nearest GoodLife Fitness club.

In concert with Teen Fitness Connection, GoodLife Fitness is offering free gym memberships to Canadian kids aged 14-17 during the months of July & August and between the hours of 8am & 4pm.

Here is a list of participating GoodLife Fitness clubs.

You will have to contact the clubs directly for the specific terms and conditions, but after speaking with the Corporate Manager for Teen Fitness International, I have been assured that the only other restrictions would include access to specific fitness classes and/or use of the pool/spa.

Now if only we could convince a few other health clubs in Toronto to offer similar programs, our kids could be the fittest in Canada.


No More Birthday Cupcakes for America's Fat Kids


America has a problem with childhood obesity.

It also has a problem with brain-dead nanny-state bureaucracy.

According to the Detroit News, elementary schoolchildren will no longer be allowed to celebrate their birthdays by bringing homemade cupcakes to school.

Instead, they will be allowed to celebrate their birthdays by snacking on raw vegetables and getting an extra 30 minutes of gym class.


birthday dodgeball.


Is it any wonder that kids think all grown-ups suck?


major league baseball teams up with michelle obama's let's move program in an attempt to reverse childhood obesity

Major League Baseball Strikes Out Childhood Obesity

major league baseball teams up with michelle obama's let's move program in an attempt to reverse childhood obesity

Back in the day, America’s baseball players were fat & it’s children were fit.

Today, it’s the the ball players who are fit & the kids are fat.

But, maybe not for much longer.

Michelle Obama has enlisted Major League Baseball and its players’ association for a new public service advertising campaign to promote her program – Let’s Move –  and eliminate childhood obesity.

The campaign consists of a series of television and radio ads, customized for each of the league’s teams.

And I think that it’s a great idea.


It’s exactly what I was talking about when I wrote A Social Blueprint to Cure Obesity.

If we really want to end childhood obesity (adult obesity too), we need to make America’s youth believe that exercise & healthy eating is the cool thing to do.

Make fitness sexy…or extreme…or sick…or whatever they call “cool” nowadays (gawd I am getting old)

And that’s exactly what these ads do.

They take the love, admiration & respect America’s kids have for their baseball heroes and leverage those feelings to get the kids excited about health & fitness.

It is the essence of “Monkey See – Monkey Do” psychology.

Just imagine if they roll this campaign out to include other athletes, celebrities, movie stars, etc…

It may even work for the adults.


Here are the first two ads in the series.

New York Yankees

Baltimore Orioles

So, what do you think of that???


Resveratrol & Weight Loss

Resveratrol is currently being studied for its effect on increasing lifespan, preventing cancer, preventing diabetes, preventing inflammation, improving cardiovascular function, protecting the environment and guaranteeing world peace. (not sure about the last two)

As if that wasn’t enough, this phytoalexin is also being  touted as a potent weight loss agent.

Back in 2008, I wrote about the research being done by the researchers at Sirtis. At that point, the research was pretty much theoretical. Exciting, but a long way away from showing up at your pharmacy/health food store.

However, less than 2 years later, researchers have found that a 4 week program of resveraltrol supplementation (in doses of 200mg/kg/day) was able to increase satiety, decrease caloric intake by 13% and increase resting metabolism by 29%.

True, this research was conducted on lemurs…and the doses tested would require a 200 lb man to swallow 18,000 mg or 90 x 200mg capsules per day…at a cost of approximately $60 per day….but at least they’re getting closer.

Who knows, in another 2 years, they could have a product ready for the shelves that doesn’t require a second mortgage.


If you like what you see here, click here for updates


Related Posts

Coca-Cola & McDonalds Are Afraid of You

For the past few years, North American obesity & fitness geeks have been preaching about the dangers of childhood obesity.

At first, we were ignored…then laughed at….then threatened with lawsuits….

Today, we see:

  • the First Lady adopting childhood obesity as her personal crusade
  • celebrity chef Jamie Oliver taking on the USDA & America’s school system in an attempt to reverse childhood obesity
  • daily media coverage of the latest obesity horror story

The tide may finally turning

And as a result, mega corporations like Coca-Cola & McDonalds are scared to death that America’s parents are going to punish them for their part in the fattening of America’s children.

Hence the following menu changes & advertising campaigns:

Note: It’s probably just an oversight, but this commercial failed to mention that parents groups have been pressuring the soft drink industry & school boards for years about the pop machines in schools.

But, I guess that there’s nothing like a mob of angry parents to get an entire multi-billion dollar industry to stop selling their product directly to children

And it’s not just the soft drink industry.

Dairy Queen has their Mini Blizzard that is roughly half the size of the previous smallest size.

According to DQ reps, “The size and price (between $1.99 and $2.49) really appeal to many consumers and in fact create a very strong perceived value for the new Mini.”

The next thing you know, Ronald McDonald will be out of a job and KFC will be serving tofu-chicken stir-frys

Being a parent is the hardest job in the world

But when you feed your kids like this ↑ or like this ↓…you’re not being a good parent.

And because we have let our kids (and ourselves) eat like this, they have to deal with…

  • Skyrocketing childhood obesity rates
  • Adult-onset Diabetes renamed as Type 2 Diabetes because so many kids are afflicted by it
  • An increase in childhood Type 1 Diabetes
  • 40% of their obese friends having fatty liver disease

And if that wasn’t enough, new research has uncovered that their arteries are stiffening.

Stiffening of the arteries….in children.

And in case you didn’t know…stiff arteries are a hallmark of atherosclerosis, a typically adult condition in which blood vessels become clogged.

Like this


If you like what you see here, click here for updates


Related Posts

Sugar doesn't cause obesity…

…according to Andrew Briscoe, the president and chief executive of the Sugar Association Inc., in an interview with Reuters.

Mr. Briscoe feels that “sugar is being unfairly blamed for obesity problems in the United States at a time when per capita consumption of sweeteners has declined over the past decade.”

“Sugar is not part of the problem,” he said.

And with that statement, we have apparently entered the portion of the interview where Mr. Sugar starts looking for Mr. Scapegoat.

Luckily for Mr. Sugar, he always has Mr. High Fructose Corn Syrup hanging around.

  • Did you know that less than 5 percent of all U.S. sugar deliveries go to the beverage industry?
  • And did you know that the consumption of HFCS in 2008 stood at more than 5.0 million metric tons in 2008
  • That’s nearly 15 times more HFCS than sugar used in beverages

So, there you go.

  • Obesity isn’t caused by sugar
  • Obesity is caused by HFCS
  • Sugar is completely innocent
  • Sugar is good for you
  • Keep buying lots and lots of sugar
  • and pay no attention to that man behind the curtain

Can Michelle Obama Reverse Childhood Obesity?

Michelle Obama and her war against childhood obesity is in the news again.

In the article that she has written an article for this week’s edition of Newsweek, the First Lady outlines her plan to transform America’s youth from fat to fit within the span of a single generation.

Here is a link to the article.

Why I Am Fighting Childhood Obesity

We can solve this problem in one generation


And while I personally believe that big social programs such as these are more effective at spending money than affecting any sort of meaningful change, I want to know what you think.

And I made it easy with this handy-dandy Poll Daddy poll.

So, make your selection and then send send this link to all of your Facebook friends, Twitter followers, etc…


(I have also included the entire article in the post – see below)



Michelle on a Mission

How we can empower parents, schools, and the community to battle childhood obesity.

By Michelle Obama | NEWSWEEK

Published Mar 14, 2010

From the magazine issue dated Mar 22, 2010

For years, we’ve known about the epidemic of childhood obesity in America. We’ve heard the statistics—how one third of all kids in this country are either overweight or obese. We’ve seen the effects on how our kids feel, and how they feel about themselves. And we know the risks to their health and to our economy—the billions of dollars we spend each year treating obesity-related conditions like heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.

But we also know that it wasn’t always like this. Back when many of us were growing up, we led lives that kept most of us at a pretty healthy weight. We walked to school every day, ran around at recess and gym and for hours before dinner, and ate home-cooked meals that always seemed to have a vegetable on the plate.

For many kids today, those walks to school have been replaced by car and bus rides. Afternoons playing outside have been replaced with afternoons inside with TV, videogames, and the Internet. And with many parents working longer hours, or multiple jobs, they don’t have time for family meals around the table anymore.

It’s now clear that between the pressures of today’s economy and the breakneck pace of modern life, the well-being of our kids has too often gotten lost in the shuffle.

And let’s be honest with ourselves: our kids didn’t do this to themselves. Our kids don’t decide what’s served in the school cafeteria or whether there’s time for gym class or recess. Our kids don’t choose to make food products with tons of sugar and sodium in supersize portions, and then have those products marketed to them everywhere they turn. And no matter how much they beg for fast food and candy, our kids shouldn’t be the ones calling the shots at dinnertime. We’re in charge. We make these decisions.

That’s actually the good news—that we can decide to solve this problem. That’s why we started Let’s Move, a nationwide campaign with a single goal: to solve the problem of childhood obesity in a generation, so that children born today can reach adulthood at a healthy weight.

Let’s Move is not about trying to turn back the clock to when we were kids, or cooking five-course meals from scratch every night. No one has time for that. And it’s not about saying no to everything either. There’s a place for cookies and ice cream, burgers and fries—that’s part of the fun of childhood.

Instead, Let’s Move is about families making manageable changes that fit with their schedules, their budgets, and their needs and tastes. It’s about giving parents the tools they need to keep their families healthy and fit, and getting more nutritious food—more fresh fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, and less sugar, fat, and salt—into our nation’s schools. It’s about helping grocery stores serve communities that don’t have access to fresh foods, and finding new ways to help our kids stay physically active in school and at home.

Achieving all this won’t be easy. This isn’t something we can fix with a bill in Congress or an executive order from the president. I’ve spoken with many experts about this issue, and not a single one has said that the solution to childhood obesity is to have the government tell people what to do.

Instead, it’s about what all of us can do to help our kids lead active, healthy lives: parents making healthier choices for their families; mayors and governors doing their part to build healthier cities and states; and the private sector doing its part as well—from food manufacturers offering healthier options to retailers understanding that what’s good for kids and families can be good for businesses too.

That’s why I’ve been traveling the country, speaking to groups ranging from PTAs to food manufacturers, to elected officials, to school food-service employees, asking all of them to be a part of Let’s Move. And since this campaign began, several major school suppliers have already agreed to improve the quality of their food, doubling the amount of fresh produce they serve to our children. The nation’s largest beverage companies have agreed to provide clearly visible information about calories on the front of their products, as well as on vending machines and soda fountains. The American Academy of Pediatrics has begun urging its members to screen children for obesity and to actually write out prescriptions for parents detailing how to address it. And we’ve started a Web site——with tips on eating well and staying fit.

Changes like these are only the beginning—and we’ve got a long way to go to reach our goals. But I’m confident that if we each do our part, and all work together, we can ensure that our kids have not just the opportunities they need to succeed, but the strength and endurance to seize those opportunities: to excel in school, pursue the careers of their dreams, keep up with their own kids, and live to see their grandkids grow up—maybe even their great-grandkids too. That is the goal of Let’s Move, and that is my mission as first lady.

Find this article at

© 2010

The Making of the @HealthHabits Diet

Tomorrow, I will be posting the “official” @HealthHabits Diet…one of the most effective fat-burning, muscle building, health improving diets I have ever designed.

But, before I do that, I thought I would show everybody the 3 central rules that I used to create the @HealthHabits Diet.

  1. It’s Not Only What You Eat
  2. It’s When You Eat It
  3. And How Much Of It That You Eat

Simple, right?

Let’s take a closer look.

What You Eat

There are a lot of diets that restrict the types of food you can and can’t eat:

  • Low-Fat Diets
  • Low-Carb Diets
  • Vegetarian/Vegan Diets
  • High Fiber Diets
  • Liquid Diets
  • Organic Food Diets
  • Whole Grain Diets
  • and the list goes on and on and on…

The fact is, certain foods improve your health and certain foods don’t.

  • Certain foods are high in nutrients and low in calories
  • Other foods are high in calories and low in nutrients
  • Certain foods make you hungry
  • Certain foods cause inflammation (that’s bad)
  • Certain foods make you fat

Based upon the most recent research, I have put together my list of the foods that improve your health and the ones that wreck your health.

When You Eat It

What makes more sense:

  • Drinking all of your daily fluid intake at one sitting (think Big Gulp)?
  • Or spreading it out over the course of the day?
  • Skipping breakfast and lunch and then eating a huge dinner?
  • Spacing your food intake out evenly over the whole day?
  • Eating all of your carbs for breakfast, fats for lunch and proteins for dinner?
  • Eating meals balanced in macro-nutrients (carb, fat, pro)?

It’s not just the types of food you eat that’s important, it’s when you eat those foods.

And tomorrow, I will tell the Facebook Group about two incredibly powerful meal timing techniques.

How Much You Eat

This one is a no-brainer.

10,000 calories of the healthiest health food per day is still going to make you fat.

It’s just too bad that most dieters see calories as the end-all and be-all of successful weight loss. If the weight isn’t coming off fast enough, they just drop the calories a little more. And then a little more. And then just a little bit more.

Until 1 of 2 things happens:

  1. They achieve their weight loss goal and then have to maintain their skinny-fat physiques on 1000 calories per day for the rest of their miserable calorie deprived lives, or
  2. Their body revolts and forces them (via hormones, brain chemicals, etc) to eat and eat and eat.

Neither scenario works.

That’s why focusing solely on calories is the worst thing you can do if you’re trying to lose weight.

Now What???

Introducing…the @HealthHabits Diet



Like this article???

If you like this article, don’t forget to subscribe to @healthhabits. When you subscribe, my friends at MailChimp will make sure to send you an email every time I post something new here at the blog.

As well, you also get access to the series of Supplement Reports that I am publishing this year.

button subscribe

MEND: A Better Way to Reverse Childhood Obesity?

I want you to imagine that you’re the parent of this chubby little guy chowing down at Mickey Dees.

  • You know that your kid is obese.
  • You know that being obese is not going to make his life easier in any respect – health, social stigma, etc

And yet, here you are at McDonalds…again

How does that make you feel?

  • Like a failure as a parent?
  • Worried about your kid’s health?
  • Concerned that you don’t know how to fix the problem?
  • Upset that you can’t afford to fix the problem?


What if there was a program that:

  • Has been proven to help reverse childhood obesity (study, study)
  • Teaches kids (and their families) what & how they should be eating to be fit
  • Takes the family shopping to show them how to shop for healthy food on a budget
  • Shows the family how to prepare healthy meals
  • Teaches the family psychological tips to help them improve their odds of winning the weight loss battle
  • Re-introduces kids to physical activity – games, sports, etc..
  • Was offered in your neighborhood
  • Make us of already existing public facilities (community centers, parks, etc)
  • And is FREE

If you live in the U.K., this program already exists

Unfortunately, in North America, it doesn’t.

Funny how we talk about what a huge problem childhood obesity is, but we don’t do anything about it.


If you like what you see here, click here for updates


Related Posts

baby obesity health childhood healthhabits

Childhood Obesity: A Cruel Kindness

Waaaaayyy back in 1967, medical experts were concerned about the growing threat of childhood obesity. Little did they know that the “fat kids” from their time would be considered “normal” in 2010.

Don’t believe me?

I recently came across the following olde-tyme educational film from Great Britain (c 1967). The film documents the typical home life for Brits in the late 60s…including their attitudes towards food and meal times. It also addresses obesity in children.

A female GP narrates the story of three children who are overweight for their age stressing that although there may be some inherited causes of their obesity, it is mostly due to over-feeding on the part of the parents, what the GP calls a cruel kindness.

Cruel Kindness

What a great description.

  • Why do we feed our kids pizza instead of broccoli?
  • Why do we let them play hours & hours of XBox instead of kicking them outside to get some exercise (and a real life)?
  • Why have we let fast food become the largest food group?

Cruel Kindness

It’s easier to give them what they want, instead of what they need.

But that isn’t parenting…is it?

Enjoy the film.

Or better yet, talk to your children’s school about screening the film during phys. ed or science or during an assembly.

healthhabits health fitness diet books

What the Diet Gurus Won’t Tell You

Every January,  a lot of you make that most famous of New Years Resolutions.

I am going to lose weight.

And, most of you are going to fail…miserably….Here’s why.

There are 3 Main Types of Weight Loss Plans

  1. Eat Less Food
  2. Eat Less of Specific Types of Food (most commonly Carbs or Fat)
  3. Get More Exercise

And of course, most of the so-called “diet-experts”  mix and match these three main plans to come up with their proprietary “miracle” weight loss program.

So, how come, year after year, millions of people:

  • Start a new diet
  • Quit that diet
  • Try another diet
  • Quit that diet
  • etc, etc, etc…

Q:  Don’t they have any will power?

A:  Of course, they have will power. Just as much as anybody else. Just as much as that skinny guy or gal that can’t quit smoking or gambling or watching too much reality tv.

Problem is, will power isn’t enough for most dieters. Not when you consider the following list of factors that make dieting a can’t-win proposition for most people.

@healthhabit’s List of Diet Killers

When dieters eat less food:

  • Their metabolism slows down
  • Specific brain chemicals increase appetite
  • Their “obesity” hormones join with those brain chemicals and appetite becomes an insatiable hunger
  • Neural pathways created by years of poor eating habits are abandoned (that’s good).
  • New (diet-friendly) neural pathways are created (once again – good)
  • Unfortunately, the old pathways are designed like super-highways while the new ones are more like bike trails. One bad meal and the old pathways come back online and the diet is broken.
  • Psychologically, the elimination of their standard diet results in feelings of loss & punishment.
  • Emotionally, dieters feel like they are being punished.
  • Socially, friends & family members often (unconsciously) try to sabotage the diet.

When dieters restrict food groups:

  • Metabolism may or may not slow down – metabolism is mainly affected by caloric intake and, to some extent, the amount of protein consumed.
  • The brain chemicals and hormones cry out for the restricted food.
  • Neural pathways are affected in the same way as above.
  • Psychologically, we see similar feelings of deprivation.
  • Same emotional response
  • Same social response amongst family members.
  • Amongst casual acquaintances, the social response can be even worse. In social situations (parties, restaurants) dieters who avoid carbs or fats can be perceived by others as being “difficult”
  • Low-fat dieters can suffer in a myriad number of ways. Impaired hormone production, damaged hair, skin & nails, alleriges, systemic inflammation, etc…
  • Low-carb dieters often suffer at first from the lack of readily available sugar as a fuel source. Over time, this problem resolves itself.
  • Unfortunately, the lack of fiber in the low-carb diet often doesn’t resolve itself. And we all know what a lack of fiber can do to a person’s bathroom habits.

When exercise is the sole weight loss method:

  • Exercise does all sorts of great things for your body – (improves mood, body image, strength, flexibility, general health, etc), but as the saying goes, you can’t out-train a bad diet. It is way too easy to eat 500 calories of delicious chocolate cake than it is to burn off 500 calories of body-fat.
  • And, to make things worse, studies have shown that exercise increases hunger.

And the problems get even worse for repeat dieters.

After numerous failed attempts at weight loss, these poor souls have created super-thick neural pathways dedicated exclusively to dietary failure.

They just don’t believe they can succeed.

Seems pretty grim, doesn’t it? What are we going to do?

Here’s what I do for my clients.

  1. Choose a diet/meal plan that keeps their metabolism humming along.
  2. Choose a diet/meal plan that meshes well with their personality & their lifestyle
  3. Create an exercise plan that boosts metabolism and makes them fitter, stronger & lighter.
  4. Prepare them mentally and emotionally for the challenge that they face. Let them know that their hormones and neural pathways and brain chemicals want them to stay fat. But that with diet and various psychological tools, they can overcome their physiology.
  5. Help them re-frame how they see their diet. Instead of eating for convenience, they’re eating for nutrition. Instead of missing out on ice cream, they’re upping their sex appeal. Instead of being normal, they’re becoming better – healthier, fitter, stronger, sexier.
  6. Make them understand that this is a challenge that they can win. Others have faced the same challenge and have succeeded. I lend them my confidence. Every day I see people succeed & fail at weight loss. I have built some massive neural pathways when it comes to my belief in successful weight loss. I just need them to believe that I believe. Weird, but true.

So, come this January, what are you going to do?

Buy the latest best-selling diet book?


Like this article???

If you like this article, don’t forget to subscribe to @healthhabits. When you subscribe, my friends at MailChimp will make sure to send you an email every time I post something new here at the blog.

As well, you also get access to the series of Supplement Reports that I am publishing this year.

button subscribe

Sesame Street v.s. Childhood Obesity

grover sesame street exercise

Sesame Street has joined the battle against childhood obesity.

First, it was Grover getting into the gym and pumping some iron.

Then, it was the Cookie Monster kicking his cookie addiction and switching to a diet heavy on fruits and vegetables.

Things were looking good in this battle between fit and fat.

Unfortunately, not everyone believed in the cause. There were traitors amongst us….

Cookie Monster Defends His Honor Vs. Colbert – Watch more Videos at Vodpod.


But luckily, for every Stephen Colbert, there is a Michelle Obama, willing to stand up against video games and Twinkies and Big Gulps.

On this weeks 40th anniversary show, First Lady Michelle Obama helped a group of children plant a vegetable garden on Sesame Street.

And just like those vegetable seeds will eventually take root and grow into mature plants, let’s hope that the message of eating healthy and exercising daily will take root in the minds of a new generation of Sesame Street viewers.

If you like what you see here, click here for updates


Related Posts <A HREF=”” mce_HREF=””> Widgets</A>

Drink more soda…it’s good for you

Not everyone is happy with the anti-obesity/anti-soda ad produced by the NYC Dept of Health.

soda obesity nyc

And it isn’t just the people who lost their lunches after seeing that globby/fatty/veiny cup of goo.

It’s groups like the Center for Consumer Freedom.

In fact, the CCF was so upset, that they produced their own rebuttal ad and had it printed in the New York Times

you are too stupid consumer freedom

BTW, a full page ad in the Times costs upwards of $158,004.


And we’re not even including the costs associated with creating the ad.

We’re talking big money.


And thinking about that big money awakened the skeptic in me. And that inner skeptic started thinking…who is the Center for Consumer Freedom and why are they spending a ton of money defending our freedoms against anti-cola advertisements?

So, I did a little research into the CCF.

My findings?

Apparently, there are a lot of people who don’t like the CCF.

To them, the CCF is nothing but a front group for the restaurant, alcohol and tobacco industries.

It runs media campaigns which oppose the efforts of scientists, doctors, health advocates, environmentalists and groups like Mothers Against Drunk Driving, calling them “the Nanny Culture — the growing fraternity of food cops, health care enforcers, anti-meat activists, and meddling bureaucrats who ‘know what’s best for you.’ ”

Over 40 percent of the group’s 2005 expenditure was paid to Rick Berman’s PR company, Berman & Co. for “management services. As part of its operations CCF runs a series of attack websites.


But, don’t take their word for it….Check out the “attack” websites

And, if that ain’t enough, watch this video…

Or listen to the man himself as Rick Berman is interviewed by MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow…

So, what do you think?

Is Rick Berman…

  • standing up for your freedom against the American nanny state?
  • or is he spinning lies in order to promote the interests of his anonymous donors?


If you like what you see here, click here for updates


Related Posts


Can America’s Food Producers Save Us From Obesity?

30 of America’s biggest food producers have come together to form the Healthy Weight Commitment Foundation.

It’s kind of like the Justice League of America, but instead of fighting comic book super villains, the HWCF is fighting against obesity.

Justice League of America

Their plan is to do this by “helping consumers lead healthier lives by making energy balance – calories in balanced with calories out – a daily habit”.

We will do this by increasing access and opportunities for physical activity, healthier nutrition options and raising awareness of the energy balance approach…

…in the marketplace….

…participating companies are committing to build on existing efforts and will be making changes to their products, packaging and labeling to make it easier for consumers to manage their calorie intake while preserving or enhancing overall nutrition quality.

Specific options companies may undertake include:

  • product reformulation and innovation;
  • providing smaller portions;
  • redesigning packaging and labeling;
  • placing calorie information on the front of products;
  • providing consumers with information and educational materials;
  • and in-store promotion of the initiative.

…in the workplace…

…participating companies will undertake new or enhance existing programs to help employees achieve and maintain a healthy weight.

This may include:

  • providing calorie information and healthier food and beverage options in cafeterias,
  • vending machines and break rooms;
  • providing access to exercise at work through individual and group activities;
  • offering weight management programs;
  • and implementing tools to track progress, like health risk appraisals.

…and in schools…

…the Healthy Weight Commitment Foundation will expand the successful Healthy Schools Partnership to additional schools around the country.  The Healthy Schools Partnership integrates nutrition education and physical education through a school-based curriculum to help children develop lifelong positive healthy habits.

Sounds pretty good, doesn’t it.

  • Healthier food products
  • Improved and expanded nutrition information
  • and lots and lots of money being spent to help improve our fitness levels

So, how come I feel dirty.

Like I have just been lied to.

Hmmmm, it seems like my Spidey-Sense is tingling.

spidey sense


If you like what you see here, click here for updates


Related Posts

Fit Kids Need Playgrounds

Fear of dangerous strangers is keeping our kids and teens from using their neighborhood playgrounds and parks.

Instead, they stay inside and play virtual table tennis on their Nintendo Wii. It’s not the same thing.

Researchers in the Faculty of Physical Education and Recreation at the University of Alberta, looked at perceived opportunities and barriers to physical activity in an inner-city neighbourhood in Edmonton.

Study data revealed three themes that influenced youngsters’ opportunities for physical activity, with positive and negative factors for each.

The first theme identified was “neighbourhood characteristics.”

  • Positive neighborhood characteristics include “walkable” neighborhoods with plenty of parks and playgrounds and nearby amenities.
  • Negative neighborhood characteristics include perceived “stranger danger” fears related to drug users, bullies, prostitutes, gang members and fear of abduction deterred children and youth from visiting these places.

The second theme was “family involvement.”

  • Researchers found that while children and youth were rarely allowed out alone, involvement by a family member, for example, accompanying them to a park to play, increased their engagement in physical activity.

The third theme was the “availability of adult-supervised programs.”

  • On the positive side, we have neighborhoods with a large variety of programs offered by dedicated, hard-working staff and volunteers.
  • Conversely, neighborhoods with minimal resources; poor staff and volunteer recruitment and retention, and little public knowledge of program availability suffered badly. Even when kids did sign up for available programs, there was a high dropout rate.


If we want our kids to grow up fit and strong and healthy, we need to:

  1. Take back our neighborhood parks & playgrounds (easier said than done)
  2. Get involved with our kids’ lives…not just drop them off at the rec center
  3. Push our governments for more public fitness programs

Related Posts


Doctors Ignore Obesity


So, how come “many overweight patients are not being advised to lose weight, diet, or exercise”.

In fact, when it comes to medical intervention in cases of obesity, the numbers are as follows:

  1. Having a doctor tell the patient about the health problems associated with being overweight (48.0%),
  2. Suggesting diet and exercise (46.5%),
  3. Referring the patient to a formal diet program (5.2%),
  4. Prescribing a weight loss medication (4.0%),
  5. Recommending a non-prescription weight loss product (1.8%),
  6. Recommending stomach bypass surgery (1.5%).

I don’t know about you, but considering that obesity is fast becoming the western world’s #1 health issue, I think that the global medical community should be taking obesity prevention/treatment much more seriously.

I don’t know if it’s a lack of knowledge or the threat of discrimination lawsuits or the frustration of being ignored by obese patients over and over and over, but if we want to reverse the tide of obesity related disease, real steps need to be taken.

The time for talk is over.


If you like what you see here, click here for updates


Related Posts