Parents: Stop Killing Your Children Slowly

I think this angers me more than anything else. I want to slap parents silly when I see kids constantly chowing down on cereals, drinking those poisonous "fruit juices" in boxes marketed to imbecile parents as "healthy,' cookies, sweets non-stop, and then, when it's time for a meal — even if it's a remotely healthy meal — the kids either don't want to eat, or they want mac & cheese, pizza, or some other awful crap.

Just go to a local mall sometime, and any mall in America will do. You'll see it: the lines at Jamba Juice (don't be a moron: that garbage isn't remotely healthy), Cinnabon, cookie stands, Cold Stone, you name it.

Karen gets it. As does Dr. Mercola.

Some breakfast cereals currently being marketed to U.S. children are more than half sugar by weight, according to Consumer Reports.

A single serving of 11 popular cereals, including Kellogg's Honey Smacks, can carry as much sugar as a glazed doughnut. And some brands have even more sugar and sodium when formulated for the U.S. market than the same brands have when sold in other countries.

Post's Golden Crisp and Kellogg's Honey Smacks are both more than 50 percent sugar by weight, while nine brands are at least 40 percent sugar.

Reader Jim sent me this video this morning.

Easy Ways to Stop Childhood Obesity
Easy Ways to Stop Childhood Obesity

It was bad enough when it wasn't so bad that most kids weren't getting fat already — they were only being set up for it in future life by destroying their insulin sensitivity, in addition to being ushered by their own parents and grandparents into the sugar crack house so they'll have a lifelong addiction to the stuff and will eventually get fat. But now, kids are getting fat early, visibly so, and their parents are doing nothing.

I can only conclude that parents don't care, and, I think a lot of the fat ones want their kids to join them in their misery.

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Richard Nikoley

I started writing Free The Animal in late 2003 as just a little thing to try. 20 years later, turns out I've written over 5,000 posts. I blog what I wish...from diet, health, philosophy, politics, social antagonism, adventure travel, expat living, location and time independent—while you sleep— income by geoarbitrage, and food pics. I intended to travel the world "homeless," but the Covidiocy Panicdemic squashed that. I became an American expat living in Thailand. I celebrate the audacity and hubris to live by your own exclusive authority and take your own chances. ... I leave the toilet seat up. Read More


  1. Alex on December 30, 2008 at 09:38

    I agree with you 100% on this. It's all sugar and refined carbs. My mom MADE us eat vegetables – what's so hard about saying "this is what is for dinner, deal with it?"

    Disclaimer: I don't have children 😉

  2. Andy on December 30, 2008 at 10:19

    Alex, you are dead on. The kids are not doing the shopping and eat what the parents purchase. It infuriates me as well to see to propagation of the obesity epidemic.

    I was watching a show regarding obese people's struggles and there was a girl about 16 who was trying to get liposuction. The mother said some line about "It's not my fault she's fat", but when the mom actually fed her a healthy dinner of beef and salad, the child nearly refused to eat it. She's like "This is disgusting!" So what is her regular dinner? Fast food? Pizza and sugar?

    I'll get off my soap box. Anyway, Alex, keep up the good work and kudos to you on your progress to date.

  3. monica on December 30, 2008 at 10:24

    The problem is that many people in our society don't know what junk is. They think real food is junk and junk is real food. Seriously. I have some pretty obese relatives that think giving SlimFast to their kids (a drink basically full of sugar) is going to get them skinny but eating some meat is bad news. The power of marketing and government nutritional guidelines at work.

    It's true — there's some measure of "I'm fat and I don't care and I don't care whether my kids get fat, either" in the parents. Growing up in a poor neighborhood I saw this attitude. But some people truly *are* ignorant about what is healthy. It's not rocket science but it's not self-evident, either. I grew up eating basically boxed and canned crap and never really questioned "convenience" foods — and didn't really get fat off of them either. I didn't learn to cook until I went to college, met some other college students who actually cooked with real food, and started dining in ethnic restaurants. My guess is that my diet would still be pretty similar to my parents if I never had an education or greater exposure to the outside world. I'm not making excuses — but people really don't question the low fat or processed food agenda, which I think is a key problem. I've had relatively educated people actually ask me what is wrong with processed food. "How is processed food any different from unprocessed food?" Seriously. Even when my diet was what I thought of as "natural" I was still eating industrial monstrosities that have no place in the human diet — i.e. vegetable oils. People don't think of vegetable oils as an unnatural food. And didn't you know that pizza is a health food? You are getting whole grains, cheese, and tomatoes! 🙂 I kid here, but the truth is that some people actually think pizza is healthy.

    Your thoughts on kids' food exposure are right on. Anyone who has observed foreign people, even with their kids brought up in the US, knows this… their kids are eating at ages 2 or 3 all the adult foods of the culture that most American kids would consider "gross." It's a choice on the part of the parents.

    If I ever have kids, monstrosities such as strawberry milk, commercial yogurt, and green or purple ketchup (all riddled with HFCS) are never going to make their way into my house, let alone mac and cheese or a hot dog. They aren't there now — why should they be there suddenly because kids appear? It's absurd. By the time they are 5 and have had a steady diet of real food, they're probably not going to want to eat junk, anyway, even if their friends are eating it.

    All these terrible habits are developed for the "convenience" of the parent early on — before the kid can even walk. Baby cereal, baby formula (both terrible monstrosities), and then by the time the kid is one year old it is already eating hot dogs and mac and cheese… BEFORE the marketing and the other playkids' habits even get to the kid.

    You're right — it's primarily the parents. Feeding real food may be easier said than done but I know at least three groups of parents that feed their kids real food and seem to have no problems with their kids eating junk. The kids actually prefer real food to junk, too.

    They are not even that strict at mealtimes. If the kids don't want what is served they can go to the refrigerator and make themselves something else. That's not a problem when your home is filled with healthy food instead of junk.

  4. monica on December 30, 2008 at 10:38

    By the way my sister feeds her kid all the crap I mentioned above (with the possible exception of baby formula), and is pretty well-educated and income. But she wonders why her kid is hyper.

    Two big problems are that they health authorities aren't doing their jobs, that people believe marketing (seen the evil corn syrup commercials yet by the Corn Refiners Association?), that they don't question the way *they* were fed as kids, and that they don't read labels.

    I sat down in Cracker Barrel about 5 months ago and one of the vintage signs said, "Such and such grape drink, with artificial flavoring. Better than the real thing!" Same for baby formula. Better than breast milk, you know. The "artificial is better than natural" craze has been going on for a long time now but is now just a bit more sophisticated. Corn syrup and canola are not industrial monstrosities, they are "natural".

  5. J on December 30, 2008 at 11:07

    This post couldnt be more fitting while vacationing with my family. I have gotten a lot of crap for my healthy lifestyle. I am getting nagged constantly about how I should have "at least one Christmas cookie" and how "my diet is TOO rigid". The best part was when I pulled a 26 hour intermittent fast one family member said, that my brain was going to have serious trouble. Additionally, they were trying to convince me that diet isn't that important and exercise was the only thing that leads to good health. Dietary Fat is the enemy and snacking on junk food(cookies and chips) is perfectly acceptable in their minds.

  6. monica on December 30, 2008 at 12:32

    Yeah. This summer my sis saw all the eggs I was eating and thought my diet was too "radically" low carb. I was told by my sister that "your body needs carbs." Sure as hell it does, doesn't need to get them from food, though.

    I'm sure her doctor told her that. Reminds me of your post, "Help — get me some sugar before I start burning fat!"

    As for this holidays nonsense, I remind myself of a good little phrase I heard over on MDA: It's a holiday, not a holimonth.

    I baked cookies for my boyfriend. Had one and haven't touched the rest. They're gross.

  7. Richard Nikoley on December 30, 2008 at 09:45

    I don't have kids either, but I was a kid, I had brothers. I nave nieces and nephews. It's not rocket science.

    If you don't have junk in the house — at all, never, no exceptions ever, your kids will eat whatever is provided at mealtime. I don't believe in forcing them to eat anything. If all you have in the house is real food, just let their hunger take care of it. Don't worry about them not eating for a day or two. They will, eventually.

    I once saw a program where some experts came into a home where the kids would throw a fit unless it was pizza, dogs, or burgers every damn meal. They initiated the approach above, never forced anything, but offered no alternatives that what was served for the meal, and no eating between meals. Inside of two weeks, all the kids were eating spinach and Brussels sprouts.

  8. Richard Nikoley on December 30, 2008 at 11:11

    J, I get this all the time and it bugs the shit out of me. Everyone around me by now knows my eating (and not eating) habits, and it seems there are a certain few who go out of their way to try and derail me by offering me stuff I don't eat, and/or offering me food when I've made it clear I'm fasting.

  9. Dave, RN on December 31, 2008 at 13:10

    We recently had some college students from Korea and Africa for Thanksgiving. We asked them lots of questions about their countries. Then we ask them "what did you notice right away when you came to the US". The unanimous response was "the size of the people". And we ain't talking how tall, it's how WIDE! We as Americans should be ashamed.

  10. Lowcarb convert on December 31, 2008 at 13:54

    Monica said: The problem is that many people in our society don't know what junk is. They think real food is junk and junk is real food.

    Exactly!! I was just looking up recipes for mashed caulifower today at a recipe site. The recipe called for a SMALL amount of butter and sour cream – lots less than I would use. And there were several comments on the recipe by people who said they made the recipe HEALTHIER by adding such stuff as no-fat half & half or butter buds – FAKE FOOD!

    I was like that when I followed the low fat advice. Now it seems so laughable – how on earth could we believe that fake food is better? It feel's like the story about the emperor without clothes.

  11. […] I simply have zero tolerance for this. […]

  12. Marnee on November 4, 2009 at 09:08

    And “real” foods aren’t any better. Little ones develop diarrhea, constipation, and indigestion from eating fruits and vegetables. Think of the times you heard about someone’s baby pooing out whole blueberries. If your kid can’t processes it maybe he shouldn’t be eating it?!

  13. Catherine on February 2, 2010 at 18:56

    I have a 7 turning 8-year old. He was breastfed exclusively for the first 6 months and I count myself blessed that he has always enjoyed broccoli, cauliflower and most other vegies (interestingly he can’t be bothered with carrots) Like most kids he has a sweet tooth, but it’s reserved mainly for fruit and his biggest vice which is chocolate – he loves it! He’s never liked soda pop and we don’t bring it into the house. Now my problem is school lunches and recess breaks – I send all his food for school, and the biggest problem is getting enough calories into him while he’s at school while staying fairly healthy. Whatever I send has to be quick and easy to eat, as the kids get little time and are more interested in playing with their friends! He has an egg or eggs for breakfast, fruit at around 10am, recess is 11.30 and what he wants is biscuits of some kind, so I send them – store-bought chocolate chip cookies, which can’t be ideal. Lunch at 1.30 is a chicken sandwich on stoneground, substantial white bread, and a small bottle of straight orange juice. Tea is fish or steak with steamed vegies and either pasta or rice, which he frequently doesn’t eat much of, followed by ice cream and more fruit as a supper about half an hour before bed-time.

    Does anyone have any bright ideas on how I could improve on this? The thing I’d most like to get rid of is the biscuits, but so far all I can think of doing is to bake cakes and biscuits at home for him, so that at least they’ve got real butter and organic eggs in them and I can control the sugar content. He doesn’t eat yoghurt unfortunately but I think I might work on getting him to accept fermented foods more. Store-bought yoghurt can be shocking for kids’ teeth, though, I believe, due to the lactic acid content. I’m looking into xylitol as a sweetener – maybe I could bake with it and it might go a little way to protecting his teeth.

    My boy doesn’t have any weight or dentition issues to speak of yet. I just want to do the best I can by him. I’d be grateful for any ideas.

    • Richard Nikoley on February 3, 2010 at 09:54

      I would eliminate anything with sugar first: biscuits, ice cream. I’d keep fruit minimal. Better to give him a second chicken breast.

  14. Jocko on February 3, 2010 at 09:17

    I’ve been through an interesting experience of late. I have always been a big person who has struggled with my weight, and recently in addition to quitting drinking, I also quit HFCS, bleached flour and corn related products (most of which are sugars). The results were amazing, and a lot of my impulses that kept me heavy have gone away.

    While I don’t know this as fact, it has been mentioned that HFCS causes ongoing hunger and slows the metabolism. When I removed it from my diet, I noticed within a few days that I was much less in need of food, my caloric intake slowed down naturally without feeling like I was fighting something to do it and my mental state is much more calm.

    This whole experience has made me more conscious of the contents of the food I eat, and in the process aware of how pervasive HFCS and corn in general are in our food supply. I can’t imagine the parent that has to go shopping and try to avoid it for their own kids. Things I thought were totally healthy, like store brand whole grain bread, contained HFCS as the second or third ingredient.

    I don’t have kids myself, but I dated a woman who had four, and I noticed that within twenty minutes of a meal they all would be off the wall and impossible to manage. I tried suggesting that the food be changed, but she wasn’t interested in that opinion because it meant either more money or different shopping habits. I think it may have been what ended the relationship.

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