I just finished reading Generation Extra Large, Rescuing Our Children from the Epidemic of Obesity. The authors wanted to show how children are powerless against the onslaught of advertising, poor food choices, and lack of organized exercise. They blame Big Food and Big Soda for slick advertising, school cafeterias for only offering fast-food meals, and schools for taking away recess and PE classes for more drill to improve test scores.
I have had many successes in my life as a Mommy. My kids reliably sleep through the night, they follow instructions much of the time, they display good manners, and are generally kind to one another. However, we have developed the world's pickiest eaters. 3 are complete vegetarians, no one eats veggies other than corn, potatoes and tomato sauce, and mainly they live on fruit, pb&j, mac and cheese, and cereal. I can't take them out to real restaurants, though diners are okay because they serve grilled cheese. I have participated in the food wars so often that I have shell shock. The old suggestion is that if you keep re-serving a child his dinner, eventually he will eat it doesn't work here- Will went 3 days without eating anything until he started throwing up before Mass and Maggie once went 6 days without anything but milk, all in an effort to get both (then 3 years old) to eat eggs, veggies, or meat. I am a tough mama, but I just can't force that spoon between pursed lips. While I admire moms who feed their kids nothing but organic, whole grain foods, and secretly admonish those who buy Little Debbie cakes and Wonder bread, I am smack in the middle of the spectrum. My children are plump breast-fed babies, toddlers with a bubba gut from eating Gerber strained squash and peas, and rail-thin by age 6 from refusing everything that is offered.
I have not had to personally deal with overweight children and know that part of the reason is that we homeschool and don't have TV. They are not exposed to any advertising, they don't know who Sponge Bob even is so I don't have to dodge questions about why we can't buy cookies with his image on the box. The kids they hang around come from homes similar to ours so they are not offered soda or cookies everywhere they go and meals are served at home, not in the drive-through line. While I get frustrated on a regular basis about the kid's refusal to try anything new, I am hopeful that one day they will eat my super veggie beef soup for supper without a fuss.