My mother loved chocolate and cheesecake and french fries. She kept a monster-sized Hershey's milk chocolate bar on the kitchen counter. Every once in a while (and I do not mean every five minutes) she would break off a tiny piece-one even smaller than the marked squares on the bar-to slowly savor while she did her chores.
My mother baked the creamiest most delicious cheesecakes. She would give my father one slice with his evening coffee. Her portion was what was stuck to the knife.
We had homemade french fries probably five nights a week (the other nights we might have pasta or mashed potatoes). I don't ever remember seeing my mother eat more than four or five slender fries.
So, no, my mother was not fat. Not even close. But her likes did influence mine. The difference is that I don't exercise the control that she did. One monster size chocolate bar might last me one day. And even though I don't like cheesecake that much, I would never be satisfied with what was left on the knife after slicing.
Fries. I have a strong feeling about french fries--I love them! A few slender fries would be a tease and definitely lead to many more.
So since my mother introduced me to these foods, is she responsible for my obesity? Because that's what's being debated right now. Should parents be punished for their kids' weight?
On the flip side, if a child suffers from anorexia is there a punishment for that, too? And drug addiction? Poor grades in school?
If you believe that parents of a toddler are responsibile since they are fully in control of what is fed to the child, then what about an obese teen? Should parents be held responsible for how much and what a teenager eats?
This is a sticky issue. According to child feeding expert Ellen Satler, parents decide what is brought into the house and what is served and the kids should decide how much they eat (very simplistic explanation for her recommendations). If parents buy and serve sweetened beverages, fried foods and desserts with every meal, that makes it pretty hard for a kid to avoid obesity even if she is very active and even if she eats only until satisfied. So parents do have some responsibility-especially for very young children who cannot fend for themselves.
I'm just not sure the present discussion about punishing parents for their kids' weight issues is a fair one. That implies that there's only one cause for obesity: eating too much (of the "wrong" foods). If you believe that, then you've not kept up with the research.