Childhood obesity has become a major problem in the United States and around the world. It is a problem being taken seriously by public figures like Michelle Obama and Jamie Oliver, athletes, athletes like Shaquille O’Neal and Shawn Johnson, Biggest Loser contestants like Mike Ventrella and Bernie Salazar, Biggest Loser celebrities Jillian Michaels and Alison Sweeney, and even the NFL through their Play 60 campaign. Childhood obesity has been blamed on snacks and even late bedtimes. It has even been called child abuse. Changes in school food, breastfeeding, and even advertising campaigns are being used in an attempt to fight what has been called the childhood obesity epidemic.
Putting children on a diet has been controversial. While Slimkids is technically a program, rather than a diet, it does still deserve critical review. Slimkids appears to primarily utilize the USDA Food Pyramid for the nutritional aspect of the program. The positive aspects of Slimkids include promoting physical activity and decreasing screen time. Slimkids also offers a year of support for those who have purchased the program, although it is unclear what that support entails.
On the other hand, Slimkids appears to be charging for nutritional advice that is freely available. In fact, information about health eating is widely available for both children and adults. The items on the sample menu do not appear particularly child friendly. Children used to eating chicken nuggets and child-focused foods may not be open to chicken salad sandwiches and roast beef. I am also concerned with the focus on losing weight and before and after photos, rather than health.
Children who are overweight need to lose weight for their health, but they need so much more than just to lose weight. They need emotional support and help building self esteem. They need understanding. They need positive role models. They need peer support. They need an environment that encourages physical activity and healthy eating. They need to try new fruits and vegetables prepared in a way that can appeal to them. They need help making physical activity a daily habit. They need medical monitoring to ensure the best health possible. Slimkids may be a part of the road to improved health for a child suffering from obesity, but lasting results are dependent on much more than that program can offer.