Since our move to Orlando last June, I have had to tell 5 families that their child has “cancer”. There is absolutely nothing worse than to tell parents that their child has a diagnosis of malignancy, regardless of what type, the medical and scientific characteristics of the particular type of cancer, and or the prognosis. What a parents hears, is that their child’s life is in grave danger and in fact the life we all take for granted is in fact not guaranteed. This past week I had to tell another family such horrific news after surgically removing a large tumor from the neck of an amazing child who did not deserve such a diagnosis.
There is no question that every parent would take a bullet for his/her child, and every one of us would rather get sick than have our child be the sick one. Yet, each and every day, we allow the industry, government, schools, and everyone else to knowingly or unknowingly inflict upon our children the most horrific epidemic American children have ever experienced. Obesity, metabolic syndrome, and diabetes are what up to one third of this generation of children will suffer from for the rest of their lives. Even skinny children who may look “healthy” on the outside because they are not “obese”, are sicker than ever!
Our children are being slowly executed daily, and the most horrific part of it is we the parents may be the ones pulling the trigger. Every day in clinic I share with families the critical importance of reading the nutrition label on every packaged item and/or beverage, and that every 4 grams of sugar equals 1 added teaspoon of sugar. Families tell me every day, but it says “100% natural”, “no added sugar”, “100% juice”, “40% less sugar”, and “fruit and vegetable juice”. Every day families believe whole heartedly that they ARE making a healthier choice for their child, yet not understanding that juice is sugar water, and there is practically no nutritional benefit from juice. Every day in clinic, I watch infants and toddlers, as young as 10 months, drinking juice from a bottle. “But I dilute it…..” says many mothers. This one bottle of apple juice has 49 grams of sugar, so your child just had 12+ teaspoons of sugar by drinking 100% apple juice!
I do my best to share with them the addictive powers of sugar, and why after drinking it day after day, children refuse to nor will choose plain water. Even after sharing with them the addictive effects of sugar, and the consequences of excessive sugar consumption, families ask, “what about Crystal Light?”, “can I add flavor packets to water”? to every one of these comments and questions, I ask them, “What is wrong with JUST WATER?”
For over 5000 years, humans walked this earth and survived on water just as all other living creatures. But make no mistake, in 2014, the food and beverage industry have successfully spent millions in marketing and advertising to convince us that any liquid other than plain water is what our bodies need and what our children need. As parents, we should be FURIOUS, we should warn our loved ones, and we should absolutely teach our children to fight back. Fight for their health, fight for their lives, and fight for the right not to become diabetic, or obese, and spent a lifetime taking medications, needing surgeries, and pricking their fingers 3-4 times a day to make sure their blood sugar is not too high.
We the parents, we must be ANGRY, that the industry, government, USDA, and everyone else who is not biologically related to our children, are harming them through what is the most basic human right, the right to eat and survive.
Please, please be aware, be conscious that you can create a new habit for your family and your children. You can empower your entire family and your children to grow up completely aware and in control of their health. Teach them to read the food label and give every sugary beverage the “middle finger” to make a strong statement that we will not let anyone harm our children.
If it were cancer, I grieve with you and know that you and I could not have done anything to stop this from happening, but that my colleagues and I will do everything we can to fight and save your child. When it’s not cancer, when it’s obesity, poor diet and dietary habits, and sugar addiction, I too grieve because I know that we could have and still can stop it. Join me and so many others in the fight for health and wellness.
Dr. Julie Wei is a pediatric ear, nose, and throat specialist and the author of A Healthier Wei. As a mother herself, Dr. Wei is a passionate advocate for improving children's health through better diet and dietary habits. She has been committed to helping parents learn how to eliminate their child's ear, nose, and throat problems simply by reducing excessive sugar and dairy intake, as well as minimizing habitual late night snacking. She hopes to raise awareness for the need for accountability by both medical professionals and parents to ensure that children are not prescribed or take unnecessary medications long term.
When she is not in the clinic, operating room, or conducting research, you will find her in the kitchen preparing food with love along with her daughter Claire. If you sit next to her on the plane, she will likely share with you information about how to minimize choking hazards in young children, and many other tips for improving your child's health.