TED Conversations

Dr. Michael Katz

President, www.EatingKids.com

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Is the Childhood Obesity epidemic proof that not all parents love their children?

Childhood Obesity is not so much a "learned" disease as it is a disease parents "give" to their children. Over-feeding is couched in the language of love, but over-indulgence and the refusal to set reasonable boundaries is hardly an act of true love. Since most parents actually DO know how to prevent obesity, is it possible that these parents don't REALLY love their children?


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    Apr 8 2011: It's not as easy as yes or no. The human psyche is perfectly capable of sincerely wishing for something and still not having the will to carry it out. This is true with regard to ourselves, our spouses, our children, and other areas of our lives as well. My question back to you would be: what hinges on the answer? How does knowing that change our strategy for a solution?
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      Apr 8 2011: First, I TOTALLY reject the notion that a parent could truly LOVE their child, yet somehow NOT be able to feed the child a healthy diet on most days. ALL the stories you hear about fruits/veggies being more expensive than fast food are lies and I can prove it on any trip to the supermarket. I don't mean to be aggressive here, but I am truly SICK of that kind of false "meme."

      Now, to answer your valuable question: The "strategy for a solution" could be based on parental education, or could be based largely on institutional change - like the choices available in school cafeterias, vending machines, etc. If I thought that the majority of obese children came from homes where their parents WOULD NOT feed them properly - regardless of the education furnished to the parent - then I would concentrate on institutions.

      That being said, I have always thought that the commonly held belief that "all parents love their kids" was not true. I posed this question to see if perhaps others thought Childhood Obesity was a proof. Perhaps there are other proofs?
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        Apr 8 2011: There can be exceptions I agree but lack of LOVE for kids can't be epidemic like obesity which is epidemic really.
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        Apr 8 2011: Wow, Dr. Katz, are you really claiming that it's not possible for a person to love someone and still engage in behaviors that are hurtful to them? Or that it's possible for a person, in general, to engage in conflicting or inconsistent behaviors? To want conflicting goals? Or to desperately want something that they are not able to achieve due to personal weaknesses?
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          Apr 8 2011: I see this same thing happen time after time in these online "debates" and I'm beginning to get annoyed. I said what I said and there's no reason to cook up some false extrapolation about what I said. So, let me be clear: Based on what I've seen in my life, as a physician and as a person on this earth, I do not believe that all parents really love their children. I was interested to know if Childhood Obesity could be seen as a proof of that. That's about as far as I wanted to take it.

          I think questions should be examined with specificity to the particulars of the question. Your questions are interesting, but not what I asked.

          As for your question, "Are you really claiming that it's not possible for a person to love someone and still engage in behaviors that are hurtful to them?" I say that if the behaviors cause actual HARM then NO, it is not. If you love someone I believe you will stop the behavior. By YOUR rationale, the abusive husband who beats his wife out of frustration with his life could still actually and truly love her. I think that is NOT true.

          So...if a mom feeds her kids pizza and potato chips and the like on a daily basis, with the kids growing ever fatter (and sicker), can we say she really loves them? I think not.
        • Apr 20 2011: hmm... is misguided love, or love in ignorance, still love?

          in my own experience being a teacher, i've learned that scolding and reprimanding where and when appropriate does much more for children than forgiving or 'understanding' any transgression.

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