Monday, September 20, 2010

Another Rant

Thoroughly enjoying some eggplant infused whole wheat fettucine with a mildly spicy tomato and broccoli sauce
I witnessed something today that really saddened and bewildered me.  And the worst thing was that I did absolutely nothing about it. And now I feel guilty too. This morning I watched a mother, one of my neighbours, completely fill her baby's bottle with cubes of white sugar before adding UHT milk.  I then watched her give it to her 4 year old son telling him to "drink your milk. It'll make you grow up big and strong". And I stood by and did absolutely nothing.

There are about 15 families living in this complex with children more or less the same age as Kaya. As a naturopath and someone particularly passionate about health and nutrition, I can't help but observe what the parents feed to their children and babies. In every case the children are regularly and routinely given nothing more than junk food.  For example, in the 18 months we've lived here I haven't yet seen one particular little girl given anything but sugar laiden junk "foods". Since she was 6 months old, I've watched her parents force feed her white bread heaped with jams or chocolate spread and coco-pops for breakfast, fries dripping with ketchup, puddings, cakes, white bread and occasionally white rice or pasta for lunch and dinner and every kind of lolly, gum, ice-cream, biscuit or cake in between her "meals". Her only source of fruit is sugary fruit drinks, her only source of vegetables are fries, her only source of dairy is flavoured milk and yoghurt, her only source of grains is the refined flour in the rice, pasta and cakes she eats and I've never seen her eat any kind of meat. When we first arrived here, I just couldn't sit back and watch this little baby screaming as her parents pushed this crap down her throat.  So I pushed Murat to talk to them about it. But it was to no avail... nothing we said would convince them to give up the sugary foods because they were afraid she wouldn't eat anything else and would end up starving to death.... Oh dear! By the way, this girl at almost 2 years of age is fat and has severe sleep and behavioural problems. And of course this is no surprise considering her malnutrition. In my opinion this is child abuse. Lack of education is not an excuse.

Unfortunately similar feeding habits are shared by every single family here. It seems that not a single parent has an issue with giving their babies sweets and lollies throughout the day. It's rare to see a child here without a lolly pop or ice cream in their mouths. And I'm talking about babies younger than 1 year old! How can so many people be so naive? I understand that people generally tend not to read (except newspapers and magazines) and instead rely only on the TV for their information, but surely these parents watch programs other than advertisements for junk food... Surely it's not possible that these parents just don't realise junk food is bad for kids... Is it only the parents living here in this complex that think this way? Or is this an accurate cross-section of this country's general public? Is this an accurate cross-section of the world population in general. If so, what kind of people are we raising.

The mothers here are constantly complaining that their children aren't sleeping properly, that they're violent, that they're hyperactive, that they refuse to listen to their parents, that they're having problems in school, that they're always sick, that they're constantly needing to visit the dentist, that the're always fighting with other children, that they babies are very slow to crawl, walk and talk, that they won't eat their meals...  These poor kids are living their lives surfing on waves of sugar and chemical induced highs and lows! How can children in this state of being learn? How can they grow and develop into happy, healthy, well-adjusted, intelligent, contributing members of society?

Just wondering, that's all...