Parenting in the Early Years, Continued

Baby With Food

Yesterday, Childhood Obesity News looked at the child feeding precepts of Dr. Susan Rubin, the holistic nutritionist whose philosophy derives from traditional Chinese medicine. Proceed slowly with a baby, introducing new foods one at a time and watching the effects carefully. Delay introducing animal protein, because it can cause the production of mucus, and get a baby all congested. Avoid genetically modified produce, and processed foods stuffed with chemicals.

But what has any of this to do with the childhood obesity epidemic? There seems to be a lot of suspicion about GMO foods and a link with obesity, and a person could spend a year reading up on the pros and cons of that debate. But in at least one way, there is an indirect link. Because of government financial support for corn crops, most food with added sweetening contains high fructose corn syrup, and there seems also to be credible evidence that HFCS is an obesity villain.

Not that sugar is blameless! Sugar is definitely one of the things a parent should want to withhold from a baby as long as possible, because there is such a thing as sugar addiction, and Dr. Rubin even says so too. The less of it a baby gets, and the longer a baby can be kept unaware of both sugar and HFCS, the better. The hooking process has less of a foothold and the baby has a chance to get used to and appreciate other flavors that don’t result from added sweetening.

As a way of avoiding food allergies and a permanently impaired digestive system, Dr. Rubin also warns adamantly against putting a baby on solid food too soon. Also, in “Childhood Obesity — a Point for the Crackpots,” we looked at some pretty solid arguments for a connection between premature introduction of solid food and childhood obesity.

Parental activism — the dark side

Parents are faced with many challenges. There are things it’s better to do, and practices that are definitely not recommended even though the parents themselves may have been raised to follow them. One of the habits that needs to be quashed is encouraging a child to “clean” her or his plate, and believe it or not, some parents stick to that old way, even when the child in question is already overweight! There are many reasons:

1. Dad worked hard to earn the money to buy that food, and Mom put the work and time and love into preparing it, so leaving food on the plate is a tacit insult to the efforts of both parents to raise their children right.
2. Children should be taught to finish what they start — to not be quitters in the game of life! And if they dish out portions for themselves, they’d better eat up.
3. When the parent was a kid, he or she was made to stay at the table and finish everything on the plate even if it took until 11 PM and everybody else was already in bed.
4. Children are starving in Bangladesh, and wasting food is a sin.

There is so much tradition and authoritarianism bound up in family feeding, and so many good memories and bad memories for everyone, so much emotional baggage. Sadly, it takes a lot of determination for some parents to overcome their training and innate tendencies. But the University of Minnesota says: Stop it!

According to a recent study, Kristen Fischer reports, as many as two-thirds of the nation’s parents encourage teenagers to “clean their plates.” And among the parents who aren’t nagging their kids to eat up, a portion of the remainder are nagging their kids to not eat so much. Both are recipes for failure. These words are from study author Katie Loth:

I was surprised at some of the parent behaviors, like feeling that their children should clean their plates and not waste food. In the 1950s, cleaning your plate meant something different. Portion sizes have gotten bigger over time, and if you encourage kids to rely on environmental indicators, like how much food is on their plates or the time of day, they’ll lose the ability to rely on internal cues to know whether they’re hungry or full.

But isn’t this post supposed to be about babies and parenting in the early years? Yes. The early years are an excellent time to get used to shedding old and destructive parenting habits, and developing good and helpful ones.

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Source: “Baby’s First Foods Make a Huge Difference for Health in Later Years,”, 12/09/07
Source: “Parents Still Control Teens’ Food,”, 04/22/13
Image by Chris_Parfitt.

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OVERWEIGHT: What Kids Say explores the obesity problem from the often-overlooked perspective of children struggling with being overweight.

About Dr. Robert A. Pretlow

Dr. Robert A. Pretlow is a pediatrician and childhood obesity specialist. He has been researching and spreading awareness on the childhood obesity epidemic in the US for more than a decade.
You can contact Dr. Pretlow at:


Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the American Society of Animal Science 2020 Conference
What’s Causing Obesity in Companion Animals and What Can We Do About It

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the World Obesity Federation 2019 Conference:
Food/Eating Addiction and the Displacement Mechanism

Dr. Pretlow’s Multi-Center Clinical Trial Kick-off Speech 2018:
Obesity: Tackling the Root Cause

Dr. Pretlow’s 2017 Workshop on
Treatment of Obesity Using the Addiction Model

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation for
TEC and UNC 2016

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the 2015 Obesity Summit in London, UK.

Dr. Pretlow’s invited keynote at the 2014 European Childhood Obesity Group Congress in Salzburg, Austria.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2013 European Congress on Obesity in Liverpool, UK.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2011 International Conference on Childhood Obesity in Lisbon, Portugal.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2010 Uniting Against Childhood Obesity Conference in Houston, TX.

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