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Location: Home arrow Library of Articles arrow Compassion / Vegetarianism arrow Feeding Kids Meat is Child Abuse

Feeding Kids Meat is Child Abuse   E-mail 

Could you be unwittingly abusing your child? The meat industry doesn?t want you to know it, but there's no real question: Meat, dairy products, and eggs are likely to damage your child's health in the long and short terms. It's not just the high-fat hamburgers, chicken nuggets, and cheese pizzas.

Even baked chicken and "2 percent" milk (which is still about 30 percent of calories from fat) can set them up for major health problems. Children are especially susceptible to listeria, E. coli, salmonella, and other dangerous bacteria often found lurking in meat, milk, and other animal products. In addition to foodborne contaminants, meat, milk, and eggs contribute to heart attacks, strokes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes, and a slew of other diseases.

Approximately 25 percent of American kids are now overweight or obese. Obesity-related diseases, such as type 2 diabetes are rapidly increasing in children. Recent studies have revealed that one in four obese children has early signs of type 2 diabetes, a type seen only in adults until recently. Nearly half of the children and adolescents now diagnosed with diabetes have type 2 diabetes, which is most strongly linked to obesity and lack of exercise.

WebMD Medical News reports that "[m]ore than half of obese children aged [5 to 10] have at least one risk factor for heart disease, including high blood pressure and high cholesterol. More than 25 percent have two or more of these complications." It also quotes William H. Dietz, M.D., Ph.D., the director of the Division of Nutrition and Physical Activity at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention?s National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion in Atlanta, warning that "[t]he complications of childhood obesity are the risk factors that actually become the diseases of adulthood."

The late Dr. Benjamin Spock, America's leading authority on child care, spoke out against feeding fish, chicken, other meats, or milk to children, saying that animal products can cause diabetes and, in the long term, will set kids up for obesity, cancer, high blood pressure, and heart disease. Dr. Spock recommends that children "get their nutrients from beans, grains, vegetables, and fruits, rather than from meats."

"Another good reason for getting your nutrition from plant sources is that animals tend to concentrate pesticides and other chemicals in their meat and milk. ? Children who grow up getting their nutrition from plant foods rather than meats have a tremendous health advantage. They are less likely to develop weight problems, diabetes, high blood pressure, and some forms of cancer."
Dr. Benjamin Spock,
Baby & Child Care

Fortunately, a healthy vegan diet can help prevent, and even reverse, obesity and obesity-related diseases. According to the American Dietetic Association, "Vegetarians, especially vegans, often have weights that are closer to desirable weights than do nonvegetarians." On average, vegans are 10 to 20 pounds lighter than meat-eaters, and they suffer about one-ninth the obesity rate.

Certified prosthetist Matt Mullins reports that most of his diabetic patients eat lots of meat and dairy products and have lost limbs as a result. Diabetes can lead to nerve damage and poor circulation in the feet and legs. About 82,000 people have diabetes-related leg and foot amputations each year. Fifty percent of all amputations occur in people with diabetes. Dr. Mullins encourages patients to stop eating meat, dairy products, and eggs to avoid losing limbs to diabetes.

But what if you've already got diabetes? A healthy plant-based diet combined with exercise can help diabetic people maintain safe blood-sugar levels. A study led by Dr. Andrew S. Nicholson of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine tracked the blood-sugar levels of seven patients with type 2 diabetes who followed a strict, low-fat vegan diet for 12 weeks. For contrast, he compared their blood-sugar levels with those of four diabetic patients assigned to a more conventional low-fat diet.

The diabetics following the vegan diet experienced a 28 percent decrease in blood-sugar levels, in contrast with a 12 percent drop for those on the conventional low-fat diet. In addition, the average weight loss was nearly 16 pounds in the vegan group but just slightly over 8 pounds in the conventional group. Furthermore, several participants in the vegan group were able to eliminate or reduce their medication intake during the study, while no one in the conventional group was able to reduce his or her medication.

Childhood is when eating habits are formed. You might find it harsh to be told that feeding your kids meat is child abuse, but it's not nearly as harsh as watching your child suffer from a lifetime of meat-induced ailments.

Caring parents should start kids off right by teaching them to make healthy eating choices that will protect them from a host of painful ailments. The best way to prevent and control obesity, diabetes, and all related diseases is to feed kids a low-fat, cholesterol-free vegan diet and make sure that they get regular physical activity. After all, our kids deserve to be able to run and play with their own kids some day. n



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