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A Word From A Professional: A Pediatrician’s Perspective

a pediatrician's perspective on the foods we feed our kids

In response to some recent requests , Dr. Lynn Dever, a local  pediatrician and parent, has generously offered to write a piece for this Blog addressing the current childhood obesity epidemic.  Thank you Dr. Dever for your insight.

 “This generation of children will be the first in the nation’s history to live shorter lives than those of their parents by as much as 5 years” (Center for Disease Control-CDC).

WOW!! As both a pediatrician and parent, I cannot imagine a parent not being upset by this fact.  If I told a parent that it was likely that their child was going to develop a disease and die from it, I think they would do anything in their power to stop this from happening.  But every day, more and more children are being diagnosed as overweight or obese and are at risk of developing cardiovascular disease and Type 2 (“adult-onset”) diabetes.  The CDC reports that one in three children born in 2000 will develop type 2 diabetes.  These diseases lead to failure of every organ system in our bodies and ultimately death at an early age. .  Obese children are 8x more likely to have hypertension and it has been shown that, as early as childhood, they develop plaque on their arteries. It is clear that these ramifications do not only occur in adulthood.  In addition, 50% of all cancer could be prevented through healthy diet and exercise.  The average American life expectancy ranks 27th in the world!  And to think that 40-50% of what a child eats comes from school lunches!!   This is where we can help to reverse this devastating trend, by serving fresher, less processed foods in schools. 

Fact:  Americans spend less than 10% of their income on food, but 17% of our GDP(Gross Domestic Product) is spent on healthcare. Europeans spend 17% of their earnings on food, but less than 10% of their GDP on healthcare.  Do the math, it is clear that we are doing something very wrong. 

The obesity epidemic is part of the reason we are spending so much on healthcare. There are many reasons for the rise in the obesity epidemic.  First, the cost of fresh fruits and vegetables has risen 40% in the past twenty years but at the same time the cost of soda, sweets, meat, dairy, fats and oils has decreased by as much as 20%. The ease in which processed foods are available as well as the harrowing onslaught of advertising to our children has been a large part of this epidemic.  Let’s face it, food companies have added things to our foods that make them taste good. They are cheap and addictive but they are slowly killing us and our children. 

 Each of the following are just a few of the many additives that have been shown to be harmful to our health and a cause of disorders and diseases like ADD, ADHD, Cancer, liver enlargement, kidney tumors, organ damage and osteoporosis:

MSG (used for flavor enhancement) causes degenerative brain diseases

Artificial colors have been shown to cause hyperactivity and difficulty concentrating, and potential carcinogen

BHA,BHT and Propyl Gallate (used to prevent food spoilage)-,can cause hyperactivity, asthma, rhinitis, dermatitis, tumors and can affect estrogen balance and levels.  

Sodium Nitrates (used to prevent botulism in canned foods and enhance the color and flavor in processed meats)-, combined with stomach acids forms nitrosamine- a carcinogen. 

Phosphorus (Compounds make soft drinks bubbly) have been shown to block the absorption of calcium, thereby stunting growth. 

One of the worst contributors to the obesity epidemic is High Fructose Corn
Syrup (HFCS).
Although, this is found in many of the “reduced fat” products
we buy like cookies and  crackers, it is also found in breads, sauces, cereals, yogurts, juices  and many other foods as a cheap substitute for sugar. . If you have not seen it, watch a lecture by Dr. Brad Lustig, a pediatric endocrinologist, called, “Sugar: The Bitter Truth” on YouTube. He has done extensive research on HFCS.  It is terrifying to know that this chemical that has been dubbed “healthy” by the food makers because fructose is supposedly “healthy”, is literally causing severe liver damage and is being charged as one of the main culprits in this obesity epidemic.  According to Dr. Lustig, HFCS basically does to our liver what alcohol does, but unlike alcohol, there is no “buzz”.  How cruel to think that no one is policing these companies from harming our children?


What a tragedy it is that all the gains we have made in the medical field over the last 100 years have been ruined in the last 20 years by this dangerous epidemic. We are sentencing our future generations to a shorter life.  Children are our future.  They need us to care and to do whatever we can to stop these harmful ingredients from making their way into children’s growing bodies!

We need to make sure we feed our children healthy foods mostly including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, healthy fats such as olive oil, beans and fish.  Children should only drink milk and water (and it does not need to be bottled). The fructose (sugars in fruit that are in the 100% fruit juice) is not the healthful part of the fruit, it is the fiber..the fructose by itself (fruit juice) offers no health benefit and does more harm then good when it comes to teeth and blood sugars.

We are what we eat and feeding our precious children processed foods that are high in trans fats and contain chemical additives and high fructose corn syrup is a recipe for killing them, not helping them grow into healthy adults. It is not easy to say “no” when our children are being inundated with ads for all of these bad foods but no one ever said doing the right thing was going to be easy. 

Lynn Dever, MD is a pediatrician practicing with Holland Pediatrics (One of the many locations is in Dresher)  She has been practicing for 23 years, and is on staff at Abington Memorial Hospital, Holy Redeemer Hospital and is currently on the Wellness committee at Albert Einstein Medical Center.  Dr. Dever is also a speaker on Obesity for the American Academy of Pediatrics.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Bill November 01, 2012 at 02:56 AM
Thank you Dr. Dever for your input and I am not disputing the article in the least. I am a little concern about this whole topic because the group pushing Michelle's agenda have not addressed the heart of the childhood obesity epidemic. Genetically Modified corn and wheat, growth hormones in feeds, and steroids injected into live stock. These are the true causes of our epidemic and money is behind the cover up. Check the tumors on the test rats... The evil of Monsanto and GMOs explained: Bad technology, endless greed and the destruction of humanity. http://www.naturalnews.com/037289_Monsanto_corporations_ethics.html Until this group address the inclusion of organic meats and vegetables and the purchasing from local farmers it will remain just a political issue taken up by those seeking Michelle's approval to get party recognition. Just say'in.
tex November 01, 2012 at 12:31 PM
What I find bothersome about Nutrition in the Schools is that this smacks of dumping the responsibility on the schools. I want my kids to eat healthier--and they do. They pack lunch 4 out of 5 days. Stop passing the buck, and blaming the schools. If parents take responsibility, and pack lunch for their kids, and the kids stop buying lunches, simple supply and demand will force schools to rethink their offerings.
Greenbyrd November 01, 2012 at 03:10 PM
What about the 31 million kids in this country who have NO CHOICE but to get a school lunch??? i realize this only inclues about 400 kids in the UD schools, so, why bother with them!!! Those kids aren't part of America's future are they???? Shame, shame...ALL kids deserve a healthy, balanced meal for lunch. Thank you Dr. Dever for making me have faith that some pediatricians do know a thing or two about proper nutrition!
Jodi Hallen November 01, 2012 at 04:50 PM
Thank you Dr. Dever for your insights and for extending your knowledge to the Patch readers. We have had so much resistance in our district that it seems the simple truth, that we are supporting the HEALTH of ALL kids in the district, has been lost on deaf ears.
tex November 01, 2012 at 05:36 PM
Greenbyrd--again, it's supply and demand. The kids that receive free school meals are a small percentage of students. If all other students suddenly stopped buying lunch because it was unhealthy, the school would not be able to still continue with that menu. ALL children would benefit.
UD Mom November 01, 2012 at 09:52 PM
Thank you so much Dr Dever for your very educational and well written article. It is great to hear your perspective as a pediatrician. Thank you!
Bill November 01, 2012 at 10:02 PM
Socialist tactics proves it's not about the kids at all, but is just part of the political movement. The Shame, Shame, Shame tactic was used in NYC OWS movement in Battery park, in Wisconsin’s Capital, and most famously with Mao's Chinese communist reformers. It is a battle cry that those types of people use to silence the opposition. They surround the disagreeing individual, point their fingers at them, and embarrass them into silence. Usually they will make absurd accusations about the person to embarrass them and make them sit down. Tex, I heard your common sense approach to the problem and that's how this issue needs to be handled. With common sense. Greenbyrd tries to Shame you - you must not care about people. "31million, 400 in UD, so, why bother with them!!! Those kids aren't part of America's future are they???? Shame, shame...ALL kids deserve a healthy, balanced meal for lunch." Tex, Don’t be silenced by these disgusting tactics.
Greenbyrd November 02, 2012 at 12:14 AM
Bill, I do believe you may be from MARS. You are trying to align some strange correlation between serving kids a healthy, well-balanced meal at school and a political movement! I love Tex's idea of "supply and demand"...cut off the demand, and the supply must change! GREAT idea, but when your "supply" is 31 million kids who can NOT choose to pack their lunch (aka a captive audience) the change can not happen. As for being on "Michelle's agenda"...assuming you refer to our First Lady, I am on No one's agenda! I volunteer to feed kids healthy, well-balanced meals with NO connection to government IN ANY WAY! Funded by ME!
Bill November 02, 2012 at 05:20 AM
Name calling, really? Let’s recap what others have posted… Mary Keptke 1:18 pm on Tuesday, October 16, 2012 Bullies come in all shapes and sizes. Please do not use our children to accomplish your agenda. Donna 1:57 pm on Tuesday, October 16, 2012 then the same 4 or 5 people (Stacey Appelstein, Jill Florin, Jodi Hallen, and Greenbyrd) of the group keep posing comments. It's a very small group of people pushing their agenda. Mary Keptke 4:32 pm on Wednesday, October 17, 2012 The NIS is a very small group of “concerned citizens” who bully people. If you do not agree with everything they say they intimidate you and imply that you want to not do the right thing for the children of Upper Dublin Jill Florin 12:57 pm on Wednesday, October 17, 2012 @bill..fyi...I thought you would find this interesting...as I said kids will always rebel, but eventually they give in because there is no choice and as long as it is for the better interest of the kids, there is nothing wrong with that...we need to ride the waves con't
Bill November 02, 2012 at 05:22 AM
Again the radical mentality playing psychological head games to accomplish a motive is disgusting. Jill’s prior comment, “but eventually they give in because there is no choice and as long as it is for the better interest”. The tactic of only offering false choices and thus let them THINK that they have freedom to choose, but mean while we will keep taking away their choices until they make the choice that you choose is dishonest. If you are using these learned tactics concerning “lunch” what would you do with issues concerning morals such as birth and euthanasia issues? Your group is SCARY. Hey um, there is no physical interaction between the NIS and our children… is there? BTW where did you learn those tactics?


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