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are strollers cause of obesity

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Big Kids in Strollers: Does This Stroller Make My Kid Look Fat?

by Alexandria Durrell, owner of Clippo & founder of SoConnected

It’s a mad mad mad mad world, people. We sue beer companies for falsely advertising our ability to score a hot partner if we buy their product, we sue directors and blame movie studios for “making” us commit crimes, and we blame strollers for making our kids obese. Really, people? Really? 

I think it’s fairly easy to point the finger away from ourselves when dealing with a national epidemic like obesity. Let’s face it, we’d rather blame food companies for sneaking high-fructose corn syrup into, well, pretty much everything, than adjust our own habits (it doesn’t take long to read a label, folks). It’s easier to place blame than accept it, easier to find a single cause than to admit to a string of unhealthy choices. And blaming a stroller for a child’s obesity is just another ridiculous excuse.

In the recent CTV news piece about the issue, Sandra Martin, editor of Today’s Parent magazine said that “such studies should make parents think twice before they wheel their child around” while Dr. Freedhoff, an Ottawa-area “obesity expert” points out that stroller use is just one tiny part of a larger problem. On his blog, Weighty Measures, Dr. Freedhoff also points out the flaws in the recent study done on the correlation between childhood obesity and stroller use:

Never you mind that the study failed to include an objective measurement of activity in these kids to determine actual levels of physical activity, never you mind that we don’t have data on stroller use in the years before the rise of childhood obesity, never you mind that the calories burned even in active play for 1-5 year olds aren’t much to write home about, never you mind that studies on childhood obesity clearly suggest it’s not a problem of inactivity, and that in fact obesity leads to inactivity, not inactivity to obesity – none of those things matter because hey, childhood obesity’s always news.”

Yet still, people jumped at the chance to lay blame. And when I casually responded to a tweet sent out that mentioned “too large children riding in strollers”, it started a maelstrom. Parents immediately leapt to defend their own use of strollers, others pointed fingers at kids over three years of age riding in strollers, some pointed out that there were other factors involved, and some even (laughably) blamed the suburbs. What? No, seriously, what?

As with any problem, it would be fabulous if there was one simple solution, but come on… we all know we can’t blame stroller use for the rising number of obese kids in Canada (which, according to the Childhood Obesity Foundation is over 26% of children and youth…insane!), don’t we? When I asked for opinions on Twitter, here are some I received:

I feel that the composition of a child’s diet, activity level, sleep habits, and parental modelling all play significantly larger roles in determining whether a child becomes obese or at risk for obesity.”
(@KGaryDonald)

It makes me sad that money was spent on a study like this when it could have been spent on helping reduce obesity (for example subsidizing local farm fruits and vegetables perhaps).” (@cormiki)

We parents need to be educated on how much of  stroller time is good for a child and when it is absolutely necessary.” (@TNyPhotography)

So, no, it really isn’t the stroller making our kids look fat. It’s the sugary foods, high-fat snacking, sedentary lifestyles all put together that are contributing to the general obesity of our population. And if we spent more time in the backyard playing soccer than on Twitter defending our use of strollers in malls, well, maybe we’d see a difference.

Alexandria Durrell is a supermom to two delightful wee peeps by day (and night, who are we kidding?).  She started the popular kids’ accessories company Clippo.  Visit her website and follow her on Twitter.