Crossing the Line

Earlier this week a colleague circulated a story that concerned me.  I sat on it for about 4 days, deciding whether or not to write about it here.  But finally I think it’s time to say something.

The reason I sat on this article is because I try very hard to keep my personal and professional social media activities separate.  Facebook–totally personal; I don’t even say where I work on my Facebook page and I post whatever the heck I want.  Twitter–professional; my profile clearly states where I work and what I do and I maintain a level of professionalism in all my tweets.  This blog–mostly personal until today.  Today I’m going to just slightly cross the line.

I work in childhood obesity prevention, with particular interest in changing policies and environments so families can buy healthy food. My love of food, cooking and family certainly combines personal and professional, giving me the passion to love what I do.  So when my colleague sent an article stating that a recent poll showed that the majority of people surveyed blame poor parenting for obese kids, it was disturbing both personally and professionally. The article summarizes the results of a survey of over 1,000 registered voters nationwide that asked them if they think childhood obesity is a disease, or if it’s caused by poor parenting and/or poor food choices: 34% said both poor parenting and poor food choices cause childhood obesity, 29% said poor parenting, 24% said poor food choices.

As many of us who like to cook and try to do it in a healthful way know, food prices are rising.  A bag of apples or a bunch of carrots are much more expensive than they were only 3 years ago.  I’m blessed enough to be able to afford fresh fruits, veggies and whole grains to cook wholesome meals for my family but definitely have noticed the uptick in our grocery bill.  But imagine if you’re a parent living on food stamps or with a very limited budget, trying to purchase healthy food for your family.  The average food stamp budget is $31.50 a week for an NJ resident; take $31.50 to the store and try to buy yourself a week’s worth of healthful breakfasts, lunches and dinners and you’ll see it’s not that easy.  The head of the NJ Dept of Human Services tried it last year, along with members of Congress in 2007. I’ve heard and read stories of parents who want to give their kids healthy meals but simply can’t because it’s just to darn expensive.

As parents we all want to do what’s best for our kids so they become healthy adults.  However in this current economy many families in this country have all the best intentions but not the money to buy healthy food.  If you’re among those who think parents are at fault for their kid’s obesity problem please consider whether they’re able to afford healthy food.  Sometimes that makes all the difference between best intentions and current reality.

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