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Overfeeding Children - An Epidemic


Unbalanced Nutrition

The instant information era has affording humanity with all the information they can gather from any place accessible to any degree on Earth and in the Universe. Researchers and explorers are now looking for ways to reach the most inaccessible populations and places, discovering new peoples and data no one expected to exist. We simply never know what may turn up.

One such surprise in recent years has been the phenomenon of parents and guardians that overfeed their children. Scattered instances of this trend had been broadcast in weekly news magazines that no one knew whether to consider seriously, and then on broadcast and cable TV. The Maury Povich Show in the mid-2000s featured several families in which the children were grossly overfeed and the grossly obese.

One 3-year-old on the show weighed 117 pounds, while a 5-year-old weighed 250 pounds. One child began eating in bed as soon as he awakened and ate all day. His only break was a 1-block walk with his parents at lunchtime to a nearby pizzeria, when he consumed an extra large pizza with many toppings by himself. After the walk home, be once again began eating and continued to eat until bedtime. This was described by the parents as a normal day.

This information was stunning, With childhood poverty, starvation, and malnutrition growing in parts of America, overfeeding is occurring in which toddlers and elementary school children are fed enough to sustain 2-3 people or more daily. Astonishingly, some parents see the phenomenon as funny and other parents believe that their children are better than other people specifically because they can eat more. Still other parents believe it is "normal" eating and are unconcerned.


Weight Loss Diets in Children Are An Emergency

Studying and working in public health, I could understand how and why baby bottle tooth decay happened and how malnutrition through feeding children the cheapest and processed foods occurred, but overfeeding was hard to understand.

I'd had adult clients seeking help that had worked themselves up to eating two full dinners 7 days a week in addition to all breakfasts and lunches, plus snacks. However, they had worked up to this point, Some overfed children are overfed beginning immediately when they begin solid foods. Toddlers of 2 years old weigh over 100 pounds and can barely walk. Some overfeeding parents believe the phenomenon is funny. Some doctors feel that it is child abuse.

Under average USDA nutrition recommendations for children by age, a child would usually not need a weight loss diet. In the case of overfeeding, reverting to USDA or physician-recommended eating can result in average weight over time. If this proves unsatisfactory, then a physician or lcoal health department can be consulted. Obesity can lead to death at any age, including in toddlers, and it has done so.

Kids Say -


Medical Definition

MERCK identifies Feedling Problems in infancy, specifically Overfeeding, as

"the provision of more nutrition than a child needs for healthy growth. Overfeeding occurs when children are automatically fed as a response to crying, when they are given a bottle as a distraction or activity, or when they are allowed to keep a bottle with them at all times. Overfeeding also occurs when parents reward good behavior with food or expect children to finish their food even if they are not hungry." Reference:

Overfeeding directly results in spitting up and diarrhea in infants. If ongoing, it can cause obesity. Early overfeeding can significantly affect the chances of adult obesity.


"Pre- and neonatal overfeeding programmes a permanent obesity disposition and accompanying diabetic and cardiovascular disorders, by unknown mechanisms....Pre- and neonatal overfeeding programmes a permanent obesity disposition and accompanying diabetic and cardiovascular disorders, by unknown mechanisms." Andreas Plagemann, Thomas Harder, Matthias Brunn, "Hypothalamic proopiomelanocortin promoter methylation becomes altered by early overfeeding: an epigenetic model of obesity and the metabolic syndrome." October 15, 2009 The Journal of Physiology, 587, 4963-4976.


Overfeeding can in itself be abusive, but can also be used as part of an entire, larger pattern of abusiveness toward children. One family in my experience illustrates this well. The mother had been abusing the oldest child, an 7-year-old girl, sexually, physically, and emotionally. In addition, she forced the child to eat the same foods in the same qualities as the father. The mother used the resultant weight gains as ammunition for screaming at the child that not only was she fat, but also that obesity was her own fault. The overfeeding resulted in heartburn, vomiting, and constipation as well as additional emotional trauma. When overfeeding was removed from the mother's arsenal of abuse by her husband, she resorted to reasonable meals during the week, but refusal to feed the child on weekends except for toast and coffee on Saturday and Sunday mornings. Requests for other meals were met with anger and shouting. This was a perfect setup for an eating disorder, which did indeed emerge later in the life of the client.


Largest Child Make Progress

Childhood Obesity

The severely obese children featured on The Maury Povich Show did not go unaided. The largest of these kids, a 5-year-old girl of at least 250 pounds, received physical therapy as well as dietary and nutritional guidance from professionals. At the same time, she was still able to enjoy some of her favorite foods.

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While some viewers feel that these types of television broadcasts simply exploit the children involved, it is also true that the children received help they vitally needed.

In 2010, American children are obese in larger percentages than in previous decades. In my martial arts classes in the 2000s, children applying for classes were often too big to fit the uniforms, which were ample in size for the height ranges they covered. One such child waited and applied at age 19 to a college karate class, but found that no adult-sized uniform made by any American manufacturer was large enough - this included manufacturers of larger uniforms for the obese.

Despite all of this, public and private school breakfast and lunch programs, public health education initiatives, summer food programs for youth, and a wide range of USDA, Canadian, and several other Food Pyramid Guides for ethnic populations and people concerned with diabetes, as well as concerned parents and guardians are making the effort to turn the tide of fat.

Childhood Obesity

The Future

The various WalMart stores in our city fill their women's clothing departments with thye styles and sizes of outwear, street clothes, and foundation garments that are most likely to be used by the nearest residents. The WalMart in one quadrant of the city contains Junior/Misses and Women's clothing departments full of the largest Plus Sizes. It is difficult to find average sizes in these departments.

In the 1970s, this same city was in an uproar of excitement when the new ladies' clothing store 5-7-9 came to town. It specialized in sizes 000 to 9 and carried nothing larger and was a great success.The 5-7-9 clothing chain left the city in the 1980s as the population became fatter overall - there was a significant change in eating patterns with the quick rise of fast food and convenience stores. One church school even installed a McDonald's restaurant inside its cafeteria for a few years. High schools began allowing students to leave campus to eat at fast food restaurants.

If much of the obesity in this city and the nation is the result of childhood overeating or of adult overeating of inappropriate foods in overly high abundance, coupled with the lack of exercise, then the problem can begin to be be attacked with a foundation of accurate education, guidance, and a willingness to eat healthier foods in healthier portion sizes as one accepts the responsibility and fun of exercise.

Related Link: Fat Burning Exercise.


Comments and Experiences

Patty Inglish MS (author) from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation on October 06, 2012:

The overfeeding we're looking at in this article is all occurring far after weaning, but I agree with your views about the doctor that called you a liar. The younger children eating 10,000 to 20,000 calories a day - and America has far too many of them - are the victims we are looking at.

SB-Australia on October 06, 2012:

I don't disagree with the article however I do have my concerns regarding infants & perceived weight gain.

When both my bubs were born they were big (95th percentile for both weight & length) & they continued to grow steadily for the first 6 months.

At our 4 month appointment the GP told me that I was over-feeding & I should be mixing the formula at half strength to bring their weight down to the 50th percentile...???

When I told him I was breast feeding & had not started on any solids at all he told me I was lying because no breast fed baby gains weight this quickly because breast milk is not as nutritious as formula?????

Had I not been a nurse myself I may have fallen for his bullshit & switched my babies to formula but I didn't & now (at ages 3 & 2) they are in perfect health & have settled back into the 55th percentile for weight & height...right on average.

I suspect that too many health care providers are too quick to blame diet before looking at other possibilities. I don't doubt that the majority of obese children are that way because of either lazy, over indulgent or stupid parents but health care providers need to be aware that there ARE other causes which need to be investigated!

Patty Inglish MS (author) from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation on April 22, 2012:

Candy at the dental office does not make sense, does it? We seem to live in a food and snacks society, even going so far as to use food as a reward for good behavior. That sets up bad habits. Thanks for your comments, AnnaCia.

AnnaCia on April 22, 2012:

Overfeeding and giving children unhealthy food are very serious problems. There are so many factors involved: education, life styles, time for parents to fix meals, etc. We can even see the kind of food they serve to students. Media is also another contributor. I have even seen candies at dentists and doctors' offices.

Thank you for writing about this. I will share. Voted up

Patty Inglish MS (author) from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation on February 04, 2012:

I agree and I don't know why some individuals find it funny. Some are pleased that their child can eat more than most adults, like it's an honor.

Instructor 0-8 on February 04, 2012:

This is child abuse, it is so sad to think the adults in this program could not see this is a problem. What is wrong with someone who would place a 114# 3 year old in a crib? There are weight limits, they are lucky this child was not severly injured.

This is Child Abuse!!!

doesn't matter... on January 09, 2012:

What I truly do not understand is, given that all babies are "clean slates" so to speak, why not give your child the best start available by starting them out on a good diet? A baby doesn't know the difference between organic brown rice cream vs some GMO farina fluff so devoid of nutrients they have to add synthetic vitamins back in... or a real banana vs a artifically flavored banana lollipop. Kids' tastebuds are conditioned by what they eat... why set up early childhood cravings for white sugar, fatty foods, and McDonalds??? It's not genetic to want to eat at McDonalds. Kids DEVELOP tastes for junk food, based on what their parents FEED them. It's not like kids can run out and buy their own food! It's so stupid. Now we have an epidemic of fat, ADHD, dumbed-down kids who stuff their faces all day with white sugar (candy, cereals, soda, etc), food colorings and preservatives all day... When they get hyperactive (and who WOULDN'T after eating three bowls of Fruit Loops), the parents give them pharmeceuticals - basically turning them into drug addicts. It's truly disgusting. I don't have kids, don't want 'em, but if I did I wouldn't feed mine crap. Why other people do is a mystery to me.

Patty Inglish MS (author) from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation on October 23, 2010:

This sounds criminal; perhaps you should contact police.

M on October 23, 2010:

I am currently dealing with a woman who overfeeds our child to the

Point where she vomits on a daily basis. My child is now 2. I've

Asked her every day to stop but it seems like

She gets pleasure out of overfeeding our daughter. The

Vomitt comes from her noise and mouth and this occurs every day

If she vomitts her mom will go get more food to give her.

I've threatened to call social services but this has done no good.

Any advice?

Iðunn on March 11, 2010:

This is a really important issue and very broad. Quite a good Hub!

A couple of different issues, one is parenting. Parents who starve their children are considered to be abusing them. I think parents who feed their children into unhealthiness should probably be considered abusive too, as the child doesn't know any better and ultimately the parents need to take responsibility. The physical and later, emotional problems (depression and obesity are often correlated although it's chicken and the egg sometimes) caused by childhood obesity remain permanently and can lead to a difficult unhappy life, lifelong lower quality of health and early death. It's a big deal.

On another note, there has finally been a breakthrough in what does work to help adolescents lose weight. It's therapy. Binge eating is finally being accepted for what it is, a symptom of a mental illness. And it can be successfully treated which is fantastic news and should offer hope to many.

People like to go on and on about anorexia because it's somehow perceived to be a 'romantic' eating disorder. It seems like very few people care about the opposite symptoms of the same mental illness, obesity. Yet, obesity related deaths claim around 400,000 people a year and anorexia only claims about 50 people a year.

People need to start being more sympathetic and caring about the health of the morbidly obese, especially children, even if it doesn't seem as romantic or oddly highly regarded as anorexia nervosa.

Public awareness is hopelessly unbalanced, until recently.

rebekahELLE from Tampa Bay on March 10, 2010:

Patty, this is an excellent hub. This information is so important and it needs to get out there. Thanks for putting together such a well-researched article that can help so many people.

Sandy Mertens from Wisconsin, USA on March 10, 2010:

It really is an epidemic. I think parents should take some responsibility.

AARON99 on March 10, 2010:

A very informative hub on childhood overfeeding. You have included some less known informations here. Well done.

Rebecca Graf from Wisconsin on March 10, 2010:

This is so true. I know one woman that feeds her children to shut them up. Then is shocked at how big they are. What should she expect?

JenDobson27 on March 10, 2010:

Great Hub! Childhood obesity is a major issue that parents need to start taking seriously.

Leandraluv from Houston, Texas on March 10, 2010:

Oh Patty this is very scary! Thanks for sharing this information. I am also overweight and I am exercising daily and trying my best but it definitely is easier to put on the weight than lose it!

Hello, hello, from London, UK on March 10, 2010:

That is one thing I will never understand that parents can ruin their lives like that and it is nothing but ruin in every way. Thank you for superb article.

sheila b. on March 09, 2010:

I have known fat mothers who overfed their children simply because they worried the child would be left hungry. After a while I realized there was something I don't understand, that fear of being hungry. It seems real.

artrush73 on March 09, 2010:

Great hub! That is absolutely correct. Parents should watch what they feed their children. Obesity is a big problem. most of the time when tasting something delicious most of the time it's the junk foods.

Thanks for sharing a great information

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