Honey, (How Could We Not Know) We're Killing the Kids?

I’m watching an episode of Honey, We’re killing the Kids. The particular episode I flipped to features a family called the Busbys (I think). The family is obese. The mother is very, very obese and the dad’s very obese. The kids are, surprise, overweight–I think one is fifty (!!) lb overweight. They didn’t get that way genetically, either. The kids eat like crap because their parents eat like crap. The kids eat 1000 calories more per day than what they should. One thousand more per day!

The way this show works is they digitally age the kids to 40, basing the outcome on their current lifestyle. The kids, of course, are going to look bad. At 40, they’re obese and look just terrible.

What cheeses me off was the fact that the parents had the audacity to look surprised! At one point the mother actually said she just always hoped he’d (one of her sons) just lose the weight some kind of way. Honesty, this woman just cannot be that stupid! With all the information that’s available re the consequences of being very overweight, how does one just hope they will just lose the weight ‘some kind of way’?

I guess I should cut this woman some slack; she did, after all, contact the show to ask for help. I just fail to understand how someone could neglect their children so badly. Their diet was beyond terrible. They watch 6+ hours of TV per day and get little to no exercise. The kids are allowed to go to bed whenever they like (they’re seven and nine–ages at which children should still have bedtimes, in my opinion). It’s bad enough when parents allow their children to live such a lifestyle when their are no outward signs of the neglect, in other words, the kids aren’t overweight. But when you’re children are obese, how can you let it go on for so long? Surely their pediatricians expressed concerns, right? I highly doubt it was an issue of money, either. It seems they ordered pizzas and such nearly every night. Either one of the parents could have went to—and could have afforded to–Barnes & Noble, for example, and picked up a book about nutrition or healthy living.

I just started watching the episode. I had to pause it to submit this thread. I hope they can stick to the plan that Lisa (she’s the woman on the show who helps the families change their lifestyles—I think she’s a doctor) lays out for them. I wish the family luck, but still don’t quite understand how they let it get to that point.

What I don’t get is why don’t the parents look like the kids are supposed to at 40? The parents are in their 40s & 50s and lead the same lifestyle as the kids but they are always far healthier looking than the kids are supposed to look at 40. So because of that it is hard to take the show too seriously sometimes.

I’m not too worried though. I don’t see too many 11 year olds getting heart attacks, and by the time these kids reach their 60s there will be 50 more years of medical advances for them to fall back on and take advantage of. And there are so many things you can do to cut your risk of CVD and diabetes that are independent of being obese that it actually suprises me a bit when people make the obesity=death correlation. There are around 200 things tied into heart disease and obesity, diet and exercise are just some.

The good thing about the show is that they actually promote health. I thought it was just going to be about losing weight, but they actually promote good family relationships, low stress work, tell people to stop smoking, etc.

AFAIK, this is another of these dumb British shows that’s been translated over the Atlantic.

It has a good message, but as far as I can tell, the ‘ageing’ is merely a bullshit gimmick on which the show’s sensationalism hinges. I also think the ‘artists’ make the ‘grown-up’ kids look way worse than neutrality should allow, with bad hair and clothing, etc.

I’ve seen some episodes where the kids do look a LOT like their parents. You can see it in the faces of the parents as they look at the screens too. I’ve seen recognition on the face of at least one parent in each episode I saw, as if they either saw themselves, spouse, or a relative.

I’ve seen this show once. The thing that chiefly struck me was the pictures of the “intermediate” stages as they aged the kids. When they were aging them to their “fat” adulthoods, the three girls all went through stages with extreme hair colors, gothy make-up, face piercings, etc, which I can only assume were added in to make them look worse to their parents. When they were aging them to their “healthy” adulthoods, they all looked like cheerleaders at Sweet Valley High the whole time.

The other thing that struck me was, “Wow, they’re totally setting those kids up for eating disorders!” One poor girl was forced by her mother to sit at the table for something like two hours until she ate her tofu scramble (insert barfy smiley here). The way the family was eating before was bad, yes, (they fried everything), but as far as I could see the only thing the kids were learning was that bad, forbidden food tastes good and healthy food tastes like crap. You don’t take away a kid’s pizza and try to replace it with steamed fish, that way lies madness.

I can’t believe the way they are trying to “help” these families. In one episode, they had everybody switch from their old diet to sauceless tofu stir-fry. Um, scusi? I am a pretty healthy eater, I like tons of healthy stuff–but tofu without sauce tastes like… well. It is gross. The next night, they had the family eat sushi. Siiighhh. Yes, it’s healthy and can be tasty–but it’s definitely an acquired taste, and can make you feel sort of sick if you aren’t used to it, even if you are well-disposed towards it.

What was really awful was that in the same episode, they had the mother quit the food and coffee and cigarettes all at once. Hello? Recipe for failure?

This show is sensationalist and disgusting, and isn’t helping anybody. It isn’t even fun to watch.

I agree. I only saw this show once, and I couldn’t watch the full show because I got so steamed at the idiotic way they were changing the diet. They went from total junk to seafood paella on the first night! The preteen kids freaked at things like squid, and the mom slaved for a looong time on the meal (while going through nicotine withdrawal). I am no master chef or dietician, but even I could come up with a half-dozen meals that are healthy, more appealing to to kids, and far far easier to cook. Seriously, I had to turn off the TV before I screamed.

As a person who eats both tofu and sushi on a fairly regular basis, I can tell you that you’re right; both are an acquired taste. I didn’t see the episode you mentioned, Sattua, but it does sound like some habit-breaking alternatives were introduced too quickly. Tofu without sauce or marinade is a bad idea for the uninitiated.

You’re also right that the show isn’t even entertaining. I won’t be tuning in again.

I shouldn’t take so long to post – Sattua snuck in and basically said the same thing I was aiming at.

I have only watched two episodes- the one with the Busbys and the one with the mother quitting coffee & cigarrettes at the same time.

I also thought it was pretty crappy of them to start the kids out on such “weird” food. Especially kids that were not used to anything that wasn’t packaged or delivered (how pathetic is that?). I wanted to smack both the mothers- one for cleaning clams with dish soap, and the other mother who could not identify common vegetables.

The cigarette non-quitter (she never quit, just “cut back”) had a horrible attitude and seemed to be deliberately sabotaging the husband’s efforts.

And I don’t get how making vegetarian sloppy joes would take 3 hours of labor??? Maybe they need to simmer for awhile but I can only figure 1/2 hour-1 hour to chop it all up and put it in the pan to stew. It was a better example of how to make healthy food attractive to the kids though.

Maybe kids aren’t having a lot of full-blown heart attacks, but there are scary obesity-related signs of heart disease in children. To be complacent about this because “medical advances” may fix everything in the future seems bizarre to me. We might as well all stop trying to live healthful lifestyles, expecting that future developments in science may provide everlasting android bodies for us to live in. :rolleyes:

Yeah, its probably better to exaggerate the health threats of obesity in a thinly veiled attempt to encourage everyone to obtain socially acceptable bodies. the reality is alot of things are good and bad for your health. Flossing has a major impact on CVD. Omega 3s and polyunsaturated fats are important. Fiber is important. Only a small number of the things that encourage CVD are tied into obesity. We should encourage health, but not by doing this like this. People are missing out on alot of healthy behavior because they are being told that how thin/fat they are is the biggest and arguably only real risk factor.

I made a long post on this subject once saying that I thought our unifying of ‘healthy’ with ‘thin’ was going to do more harm than good in part because all the people who exercise and eat healthy for weight loss are going to stop once pharmaceutcal companies invent drugs that treat obesity. We should lead healthier lifestyles, but I don’t think shows like this have that as their main impedus. The main impedus of shows like this is looking thin in a society that is intolerant of bodyfat. In 20-30 years when companies figure out how to make everyone thin while eating hot dogs for breakfast alot of the healthy lifestyles we are promoting will go out the window.

I haven’t seen the show, but it doesn’t sound like I’m missing anything valuable. IMHO, trying to make drastic changes in too many areas all at once is a recipe for failure. The first thing they should try to correct is the lack of exercise. I have been an exercise buff on and off for 20 years, and I can tell you that when you are fat and out of shape you will be in no mood for crappy food when you are just starting to work out again. I figure one can only stand so much discipline at once; when starting to work out, eat whatever the hell you want, even junk food. You’ll feel less deprived, and will be less likely to quit the routine. As you become more fit and less sore afterward, then work on the food. BTW, studies have shown that people who undertake an exercise routine have an easier time quitting smoking than those that do not (last I heard, they dunno why).

Wesley Clark, you can’t be serious. Look, I agree that health is often a straw man for vanity, but hoping to sci-fi our way out of heart attacks is foolish. I also agree that impossible standards are often set and that it is counterproductive to do so (people say, hey, there’s no way I can manage that, why bother). But that’s no excuse for not trying. I weigh about 200 lbs. and am 5’ 10" tall. I will never have visible abdominal muscles; I have to accept the fact that I can only have strong, sturdy abdominal muscles under a comfortable layer of digested fudge brownies (hey, I got a sweet tooth, so sue me). But I can walk 7 miles home from a local BBQ joint and not collapse when I get home (or even be tired, for that matter), and I can carry 4 12-packs of diet soda home from the grocery store 2 miles away (that’s about 40 lbs…the gf is dumbfounded) without getting tired or staggering. I like that I can do that.

Just as a sidenote, 1,000 calories extra per day is easy to eat. Or drink. 4-20oz. bottles of regular pop, for example. A Venti Starbucks Caramel Macchiato and a cinnamon roll, for another. A king-size Butterfinger bar has 514 by itself.

Not to say that 1,000 calories extra per day isn’t as bad as it sounds, just that it’s a lot easier to consume 1,000 calories than it might seem at first glance.

Most of these parents probably didn’t start their path to obesity as early as their children did.

Sauceless tofu? Yuck!

What’s wrong with a simple salad? Salads are so good! Some leafy green romaine or raw spinach, some mushrooms, chopped onions, some tomato, carrots, a little bit of American cheese (just a bit), some sweet red pepper, chick peas, and then some lo-cal dressing and homemade croutons.

Fix the kids some smoothies with bananas (soooo tasty and full of potassium!) with yogurt and low fat milk. Some carrots or apples with a little bit of peanut butter. Remember that from pre-school?

Veggies can be tasty-corn on the cob, anyone? Green peas-I love green peas. My family goes through tomatos like water. Grilled mushrooms and onions are so tasty!

Enroll the kids in a dance class, sign them up for swimming lessons, go for walks as a family. Last summer I lost weight when I started tagging along with my father when he takes the dog for a walk, and I think I’m gonna start again this week.

God, when I was a kid, I was scrawny, because we were always running around here and there. Jesus.
Wesley, please tell me you’re joking.

I watched the one with the mom-quitting-cigarettes. (I think the family was called the Tapoyas, or something to that effect.)

What struck me was how whiny and undisciplined the children were. One of the boys took a piece of vegetable out of his mouth and put it on the plate while making exaggerated faces of distaste. Had I ever done that, my mother would have ordered me from the table and sent me to bed without supper after a harsh lecture about manners.

The kids rolled their eyes and groaned and gagged at the food, something I found to be astonishingly rude. Dinner with the family is supposed to be training for eating dinner in strange places, like other people’s homes and different kinds of resturants. How are these kids going to behave when a family friend serves couscous, or they go to an ethnic resturant which doesn’t have hamburgers?*

I had to agree with the mom, though, that all of this added stress did not make for a good time to quit smoking. Hypnotherapy? Give the woman a nicotine patch, for the love of God.

Lastly, how could they not have a bedtime for kids that young? I must have been around fifteen before I had no set bedtime-- I had to be in my room by a certain time, but my parents said that at fifteen, I was old enough to manage my own time and deal with the consequences if I was tired in the morning from too little sleep.

*Actually, I know how they’re going to behave. Hubby has a pair of coworkers we socialize with on occasion, and I always groan when I hear that we’re going out to dinner with “Mike” and “Sarah.” Picking a restruant is a nightmare because the only thing they want to eat is American bar food. They bitch and moan if taken anywhere which doesn’t serve greasy junk.

I saw part of one show, and thought it was hilarious. McDonalds to brussel sprouts in one go, parent who can’t cook anything that doesn’t say “5 minutes on HI” on the box… oh, and the 3 minutes I saw included the line “What’s the long green vegetable they eat on TV?” :smiley:

Oh yes. Some people seem to fear these kids are going to die in their 20s of heart attacks which is silly. It is also extremely silly to assume there will be no medical advances in the next 50 years and that the health risks of obesity in 2006 will be identical to the risks in 2056 (meaning we wont know how to treat obesity, CVD, diabetes, or other comorbidities with 50 more years of research any better than we do now). Not that that is a reason to lead an unhealthy lifestyle today, but I don’t buy the whole ‘your kids will die at age 64’ argument put forth by anti-obesity experts as it implies that today’s medical technology will be identical to the technology of 2060. For one thing obesity is just one of many traits that make someone ill and addressing any of them is good for your health, not just the ones that are thinly veiled vanity. And, more importantly, it is safe to say that by the year 2050 we will understand a good deal more about medicine and how to promote health using various interventions so applying today’s standards of medical intervention to tomorrows people is silly. Statin drugs like lipitor, for example, didn’t exist 30 years ago.


Even with a 60-70% decline in CVD and stroke rates in the last 50 years, we can still prevent about 50-80% of the current ones with modern interventions. So I don’t see why this trend of gaining knowledge of how to become healthier won’t continue, people getting fatter or not.

I’ve watched a few episodes of this show, and the impression that I got was not that it was to be used as a tool for families in similar situations, but that it’s a “Well, at least we’re better than that!” type show. I mean, these aren’t just unhealthy families. In the shows I watched, they were all very blue collar, bordering on trailer trash. They didn’t just eat unheathly food, they looked at vegetables as some sort of exotic delicacy. It’s the kind of show I can watch a day after an “indulgent” night of eating focaccia bread slathered in artihoke pesto or dipped in olive oil and balsamic, and drinking glass after glass of red wine, and perhaps enjoying a cigar, and then waking up and feeling bad about myself. I then turn on this show and it’s a lager-swilling dad and some Playstation-addicted manner-free kids and a Malboro-smoking she-mulleted mom living in a house straight out of 1972 with an old truck in the garage and some barking, chained up dogs in the backyard, and talking about “that green vegetable on TV” and I can think “Wow, you know, I’m healthy compared to this! Look at those hicks!”.

Which is a pretty common theme of reality TV, I think. “Look at those losers! Glad I’ll never be like that!”.