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Episode 42
The Doctor's Farmacy: House Call

Addressing The Root Causes Of Childhood Obesity

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Our children are unfortunately being born into a toxic food environment. Currently, a third of American kids are overweight or obese and in addition to rising rates of childhood obesity, we are also seeing a significant increase in type 2 diabetes in children. Overweight children not only face unfair stigma and judgment, but they are also more prone to battling weight issues in adulthood. Yet, food manufacturers continue to produce and peddle junk to our children that we loosely call food. The good news is that you have control over what foods you bring into your home and the type of modeling you provide for your children when it comes to what to eat.

In this episode, Dr. Hyman sits down with Dr. Elizabeth Boham to discuss the Functional Medicine approach to combating childhood obesity and they share patient cases they have treated related to childhood obesity.

Elizabeth Boham is a physician and nutritionist who practices functional medicine at The UltraWellness Center in Lenox, MA. Through her practice and lecturing she has helped thousands of people achieve their goals of optimum health and wellness. She witnesses the power of nutrition every day in her practice and is committed to training other physicians to utilize nutrition in healing. Dr. Boham has contributed to many articles and wrote the latest chapter on Obesity for the Rankel Textbook of Family Medicine. She is part of the faculty of the Institute for Functional Medicine and has been featured on the Dr. Oz show and in a variety of publications and media including Huffington Post, The Chalkboard Magazine, and Experience Life. Her DVD Breast Wellness: Tools to Prevent and Heal from Breast Cancer explores the functional medicine approach to keeping your breasts and whole body well.

This episode is sponsored by Beekeepers Naturals and BLUblox.

Beekeepers Naturals is offering Doctor’s Farmacy listeners 15% off your first order. ​Go to beekeepersnaturals.com/hyman or use code HYMAN ​at checkout to claim this deal.
Right now BLUblox is offering Doctor’s Farmacy listeners 20% off. Just go to blublox.com/hyman and use code HYMAN20. BLUblox also offers free and fast shipping globally.

In this conversation, Dr. Hyman and Dr. Boham discuss:

  • Optimal birth weight
  • Should we feed children “kids food”?
  • Why prevention is so important when it comes to childhood obesity
  • Food marketing aimed at children
  • BMI measurements for childhood obesity
  • The danger of sugar-sweetened beverages, including juices, sports drinks, and soda
  • The benefits of breastfeeding
  • The recommended amount of screen time per age bracket
  • The link between sleep and weight gain
  • Making your home a safe zone for your children

I hope you enjoyed this conversation as much as I did. Wishing you health and happiness,
Mark Hyman, MD
Mark Hyman, MD

Guest

 
Mark Hyman, MD

Mark Hyman, MD is the Founder and Director of The UltraWellness Center, the Head of Strategy and Innovation of Cleveland Clinic's Center for Functional Medicine, and a 13-time New York Times Bestselling author.

If you are looking for personalized medical support, we highly recommend contacting Dr. Hyman’s UltraWellness Center in Lenox, Massachusetts today.

 
Dr. Elizabeth Boham

Dr. Boham is Board Certified in Family Medicine from Albany Medical School, and she is an Institute for Functional Medicine Certified Practitioner and the Medical Director of The UltraWellness Center. Dr. Boham lectures on a variety of topics, including Women’s Health and Breast Cancer Prevention, insulin resistance, heart health, weight control and allergies. She is on the faculty for the Institute for Functional Medicine.

Show Notes

  1. 5 Ways To Raise Healthy Eaters
  2. Raising Healthy Eaters - Part I
  3. Fed Up movie
  4. How Food Marketing Is Making Us Sick and Fat
  5. How To Improve School Lunches, Grades, And Behavior At No Extra Cost
  6. Food Fix

Transcript

Dr. Elizabeth Boham:
Most kids are not sleeping enough in this country, and that has a huge impact on their metabolism. We know that when we’re sleep deprived, we’re more likely to gain weight, we have higher levels of insulin, we have higher levels of insulin resistance and metabolic syndrome.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Welcome to The Doctor’s Farmacy. I’m Dr. Mark Hyman, that’s Farmacy with an F, F-A-R-M-A-C-Y, a place for conversations that matter. And this conversation is going to matter, because we are facing an epidemic of childhood obesity. We’re going to talk deeply about what this is, how it’s happening and how to fix it. And we’ve got none other than Dr. Elizabeth Boham, who is my colleague here at the UltraWellness Center, on this special episode of House Call, The Doctor’s Farmacy. Liz is an incredible doc. She’s a RD first, a nutritionist, a exercise physiologist and MD, with a fellowship in nutrition. She is the doctor’s doctor, and I’m just so glad to have her as part of our team, as our medical director here at the UltraWellness Center. Welcome back to the doctor’s pharmacy.

Dr. Elizabeth Boham:
Thank you, Mark. It’s great to be here.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Okay, so this is not a fun topic, but we got to discuss it, which is the fact that we have a problem of childhood obesity. We have had to rename diabetes from adult onset diabetes and juvenile diabetes, to type two diabetes and type one. Why? Because little kids were getting adult onset diabetes, kids as young as two or three are getting type two diabetes, or adult onset diabetes. One in four teenage boys, one in four teenage boys has pre-diabetes or type two diabetes. We’re seeing 30 plus percent of kids in America overweight or obese. One out of three kids. Is this their fault? Because we have a view that obesity is really a personal issue. It’s an issue of personal responsibility. It’s either because you eat too much, and you’re a glutton, or you’re lazy, you don’t exercise enough or both, but when a two year old has diabetes, is it really their fault?

Dr. Elizabeth Boham:
No, we know that it has so much to do with their mothers and their mother’s pregnancy and how much weight she gained during pregnancy and what she ate during pregnancy. But we also know it’s probably going back even more generations, because we’re learning so much about epigenetics and how that influences our metabolism. So what your mom ate and her mom ate during pregnancy is influencing how your metabolism is going to work. We know that babies that are born underweight are at increased risk for obesity and insulin resistance when they’re children and adults. We also know that babies that are born overweight are at increased risk for resistance and obesity when they’re children and when they grow up.

Dr. Elizabeth Boham:
So there really is the optimal weight for a child to be born at, and what that mother eats, and how much weight she gains, and how active she is, or I’m sure there’s a lot more to it, and we know there’s a lot more to it in terms of toxins in the environment and the microbiome. But there’s just so many different angles to this that are important to be paying attention.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
[crosstalk 00:03:27]. And what you’re talking about very important, is that the environment in which the fetus grows, the term is a lot about programming it’s future risk of disease, it’s risk of cancer, it’s risk of heart disease, it’s risk of diabetes, it’s risk of obesity. And it’s a lot of pressure on the mother, to be honest with you, and that’s not to make people feel guilty, but it’s to double down on your healthy habits when you’re pregnant and your healthy diet. But it’s far more than that. These kids are often born into a toxic nutritional landscape, and they’re fed foods that aren’t even foods. Baby food, what the heck is baby food? There’s all this baby food, you think their hunter gatherer ancestors had Gerber? What a bunch of nonsense. They had breast milk, and then they ate regular food.

Dr. Elizabeth Boham:
Oh, that just drives me crazy, when you go to a restaurant and there’s a children’s menu. I remember when my kids were little and they’d be like, “Can I bring the children’s menu?” I’m like, “What?” Because when you see what’s on the children’s menu, it’s just crap, excuse me.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yeah. Chicken fingers, fries, burgers, hot dogs, pizza, pasta. It’s true. What do kids eat in Japan? They raw fish and seaweed. They don’t have Happy Meals or Lunchables or Gogurts. They don’t have all these junky cereals, Fruit Loops and Captain Crunch and Coco Puffs. It’s staggering what we feed our kids. We feed our kids stuff we wouldn’t feed to our dog. Think about that, would you get your dog Cocoa Puffs?

Dr. Elizabeth Boham:
No. And it’s crazy that people think, oh, well this is all they’ll eat. This is all my child will eat. Or they really are a picky eater, so I want to make sure that they’re getting what they will eat. So I get very concerned about these children’s menus. It drives me crazy.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Well, it’s true. There were two things on the menu at my house when my kids were growing up, take it or leave it. This was not a restaurant. There was no menu. You didn’t get to have different foods. You ate it or you didn’t eat it.

Dr. Elizabeth Boham:
Yeah.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
My mother, my told me a story of my sister when she was young, she didn’t want to have her breakfast. She didn’t want to eat eggs. So she didn’t make her eat them. But she gave her the same exact eggs for lunch, and the same exact eggs for dinner. By dinner time she was hungry, and she ate them, and she never didn’t eat her eggs again. Now, we don’t have to be so draconian, but I do think that it’s important that we understand that the food environment we create for our children determines their whole life. If you’re obese as a kid, your life expectancy is 13 years less than if you’re not.

Dr. Elizabeth Boham:
If you’re obese at age five, if you have severe obesity at age five, you’re 90% likely to have obesity when you’re older and an adult. It’s so hard, we know for so many people, it’s so hard to lose weight. I have some patients that they can’t gain weight, but most people, they’re struggling with their weight, with gaining too much weight and trying to keep the weight off. When a child gets obese or overweight as a child, it makes it so much harder for them when they’re an adult.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
It kind of programs them.

Dr. Elizabeth Boham:
They’re programmed. It programs them, it gives them extra fat cells. It makes it very hard for them to maintain a normal weight as an adult. Prevention is really key here. It’s very important that we deal with prevention, because it makes it easier for that child for their whole life if we prevent that weight gain in the first place.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
It’s not just the health consequences, which are staggering, increased heart disease, gallstones, fatty liver, sleep apnea, high blood pressure, asthma, sleep apnea, all kinds of orthopedic problems. Those are bad enough, but it is the worst stigma for a kid to be overweight. They’ve studied kids, and they’d rather hang out with a kid in a wheelchair who is a quadriplegic than a kid who is overweight. That’s how bad the stigma is. And we often stigmatize each other and the kids, because we have this view that it’s personal choice. But when you’re dumped into an environment with foods that are highly addictive, that are designed to hijack your brain chemistry, hijack your hormones, hijack your metabolism, deliberately, designed by food companies in taste institutes who hire craving experts to create the bliss point of food. I’m not making this up. Literally the terms they use in their internal corporate documents to create heavy users.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
This is just criminal in my view, it’s criminal. And the food marketing to kids, the average two year old barely talk, but they can recognize junk food and call for it by name when they go to the grocery store, and they can’t even walk. That is terrifying to me, and kids can’t distinguish on television or an ad between reality and fiction until they’re eight years old. And there’s now stealth marketing, which is terrifying, because kids see thousands and thousands, maybe 10,000 commercials a year on television, but Facebook, for example, had 5 billion with a B, billion ads for junk food targeted at kids in one year. How do you fight that?

Dr. Elizabeth Boham:
It’s so hard. It’s so hard to fight it, but it’s important. When you go, when you bring your child to the doctor’s, what you’re looking at, they look at the growth chart and they look at the BMI. The BMI or body mass index is not a perfect marker, there is with it, but it is something we use as a guide, and it can give you some indication of where your child is at. So if you’re greater than the 85th percentile for your child’s age and sex, they’re considered overweight, and greater than 95th percentile on that growth chart, you’re considered obese. And now we have a category for the severe obesity.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Super obese.

Dr. Elizabeth Boham:
Which is super obese, which is 20% over that 95th percentile, or BMI-

Dr. Mark Hyman:
So, how could you be more than a hundred percent?

Dr. Elizabeth Boham:
I know.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
That’s like you’re 120%.

Dr. Elizabeth Boham:
Right, so if your BMI is greater than 35 for a child.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Just to put that in perspective, these percentile graphs are made on population data, where they look at the entire population and the whole population has to fit into a hundred percent. Zero to a hundred. Now they had to create a new category of 120% or more. Well, how does that happen? It happens because the entire population shifts into a category that never existed before. There were no kids who were that overweight, unless they had some weird genetic disorder, like Pickwickian syndrome or something. I think we are really in his crisis now because we’re threatening the next generation of our entire human race. And this is happening globally. It’s not just here.

Dr. Elizabeth Boham:
Absolutely. We see it’s 5% of children or adolescents in the US, ,and for those teenage years, 7% of girls and 9% of boys are in that severe obesity category. As you mentioned earlier, a third of children are either overweight or obese. And as we have just talked about, prevention is key here. That’s just making it so much harder for them throughout their whole lives, and whatever we can do at this stage of the game with your young children, whatever you can do at this stage of the game is really critical for setting them up for success.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
And there’s often a lack of education and awareness, understanding, it’s generational, it’s food apartheid, which is this term that has been used over the last few years by people in these communities to talk about what’s really going on. Because a food desert sounds like a natural phenomenon, it’s a desert, it’s a forest, it’s a river. No, this is much more serious. This is segregation, and in division of our culture in ways that lead and perpetuate to racial injustice, to structural racism and structural violence that drives these communities to continue to suffer from chronic disease and health disparities and obesity. The average African-American kid drinks twice as much soda as a white kid. Not because they like it more, it’s because there’s just a lack of education and awareness. And there’s also increased pressure of marketing in these communities.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Every time food stamps come out every month, you get your food stamps for the month, the local bodegas will actually put giant ads up for, get your two-liter bottle of soda, we take EFP funds or whatever they’re called, EFTs. It’s just unconscionable to me, and it’s terrifying to me because we’re really threatening the next generation of our population. And if we don’t stop and take care of this now it’s terrifying. Harvey Karp, who is a friend, a physician, he was a pediatrician, said, “If a foreign nation were doing to our children what we are doing, we would go to war to protect them.” We would go to war. We’re not doing anything to protect our kids. Nothing. We’re not limiting food marketing. We’re not getting rid of all these junk crap foods that they’re targeting to kids. We’re not-

Dr. Elizabeth Boham:
Not fixing the school lunch program.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
We’re not fixing the school, but the school lunches are better because of Obama’s Healthy Hunger Free Kids Act, but it’s still not where it needs to be. A pizza is still a vegetable.

Dr. Elizabeth Boham:
Yeah. And that’s a great place to start is just with the added sugar. They say that the average child is consuming 270 calories a day, which is 10 to 15% of their total caloric intake on sugar sweetened beverages. So that’s 10 to 15% of calories that are nutrient devoid, no nutritional value, and are only leading to this whole problem of weight gain, insulin resistance, type two diabetes, and metabolic issues throughout their whole life. As we’ve talked in the past all about how that shifts your fertility and there’s so many aspects to it. So, that’s a great place to start and really most of our kids, all our kids, very few of our kids need any sort of sports drinks at all.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Energy drinks.

Dr. Elizabeth Boham:
Energy drink.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Sports drinks.

Dr. Elizabeth Boham:
Sports drinks.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Juice boxes.

Dr. Elizabeth Boham:
Yeah.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
It’s terrible. One soda increases a kid’s risk of being obese by 60%. One soda a day.

Dr. Elizabeth Boham:
It’s crazy.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
It’s pretty crazy. And it’s a huge part of their chloric intake. It’s up to 15% of the average kid’s intake. And it’s something that’s just so unnecessary.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Hey everybody, this is Dr. Hyman, thanks for tuning into The Doctor’s Farmacy. I hope you’re loving this podcast. It’s one of my favorite things to do, and introducing you to all the experts that I know and I love, and that I’ve learned so much from. I want to tell you about something else I’m doing, which is called Mark’s picks. It’s my weekly newsletter. And in it, I share my favorite stuff from foods, to supplements, to gadgets, to tools to enhance your health. It’s all the cool stuff that I use and that my team uses to optimize and enhance our health.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
I’d love you to sign up for the weekly newsletter. I’ll only send it to you once a week on Fridays. Nothing else, I promise. And all you have do is go to DrHyman.com/Picks to sign up. That’s DrHyman.com/Picks, P-I-C-K-S. Sign up for the newsletter, and I’ll share with you my favorite stuff that I use to enhance my health and get healthier and better and live younger longer. Now, back to this week’s episode.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
I was at a conference on childhood obesity, and it was in Atlanta and Bernice King was there. It was really fascinating, it was with one of the major universities there, Emory, I think, and there was a guy, a doctor there who was a liver specialist, and I’m like, what are you doing here? He’s a pediatric liver, he said, “Well, we’re seeing enormous rates of fatty liver in kids. And we’re seeing teenagers on the transplant list for livers.”

Dr. Elizabeth Boham:
Yep. All because of insulin resistance, and mostly from sugar sweetened beverages.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yeah. From high high-fructose corn syrup, which specifically targets the liver in terms of creating a fatty liver. And for those of you who really want to understand a lot about these issues, there was a movie a few years ago, came out in 2014 that I starred in, well not really starred in, but I was in it. It’s called, Fed Up. It’s on Netflix. And I encourage you to watch it, because it really highlights the ways in which our children are so affected by this. There’s a kid who is 16 years old who needs a gastric bypass.

Dr. Elizabeth Boham:
Right, right. Huge-

Dr. Mark Hyman:
How does that make sense?

Dr. Elizabeth Boham:
It doesn’t make any sense. So we want to talk about what can we do? What can you do? How can you feed your child right from the start? So the first thing we always talk about is the importance of breastfeeding. We know that whenever possible, you want to breastfeed your child, because it decreases their risk of obesity lifelong. So that is an important thing. There’s really-

Dr. Mark Hyman:
How does that work?

Dr. Elizabeth Boham:
That’s a great question.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
I have some ideas, but I want to hear what your ideas are.

Dr. Elizabeth Boham:
You’re shifting, it’s the composition of the breast milk, you’re shifting, there’s better limitations on what the baby will consume. So when they’re breastfeeding, they don’t consume as much as when they’re bottle fed. The bottle feeding, you get more milk faster through a bottle than you do through a breast. So that actually impacts the amount of calories that the baby consumes. There’s probably issues, sure there’s issues with the microbiome that gets shifted through breastfeeding, That is not happening when babies are bottle fed. There could be even what’s in the bottle itself. So if the bottle is a hard plastic, we know for example, BPA is impacting our metabolism and our weight.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yeah, [inaudible 00:17:03] pre-diabetes, insulin resistance.

Dr. Elizabeth Boham:
Yes. So there’s probably so many issues with breastfeeding versus bottle feeding.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yeah, what’s fascinating is when you drink formula, it actually changes the microbiome and feeds bugs that are pretty toxic and create inflammation in the body. What’s really fascinating about breast milk is that there’s all these un-digestible fibers and starches in there called these oligosaccharides that have no nutritional value for the baby, but they’re designed completely to feed the microbiome, which is just this beautiful sort of, it’s a virtuous cycle that is allowing these kids to thrive and get healthy and reduce inflammation and really get them healthy. So not everybody can breastfeed, but it is really important. I think that’s really key. What else can parents do?

Dr. Elizabeth Boham:
And avoiding those sugar sweetened beverages, as we’ve mentioned, that’s-

Dr. Mark Hyman:
No liquid sugar calories, period.

Dr. Elizabeth Boham:
Period.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
No juice.

Dr. Elizabeth Boham:
No juice, no sports drinks, no soda, no, I don’t know, Kool-Aid or any of those, there’s just no need for any of it. It’s empty calories and there’s no need. Every once in a while you can give a child some diluted a hundred percent juice if you want to, but it’s not necessary. It’s not something they should have every day, and it’s something-

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Not part of their fruit and vegetable consumption?

Dr. Elizabeth Boham:
No, it’s not part of their fruit and vegetable consumption. So that’s key, getting your kids moving, getting them outside every day, that’s really important. Unfortunately it’s harder to move these days unless you put it into your schedule, and we need to put it into our kids’ schedule. We need to make it part of their day, that they get out and they move, and either they’re playing a sport or they’re just having fun. And they spend some time-

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Well, they’re doing a lot of finger exercises on their phone.

Dr. Elizabeth Boham:
Oh my goodness, the phone. It’s-

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Scrolling, tapping.

Dr. Elizabeth Boham:
It’s so much harder for parents.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Liking.

Dr. Elizabeth Boham:
It’s making it so much harder for parents to help their kids grow and develop. So screen time, really the recommendations are none for kids under the age of two. And then less than two hours after that. You want to limit screens in the bedroom. There’s no need for a TV, a phone, or a computer in the bedroom. So just have the kids not have it in there. It helps with their sleep, which is another thing that’s critical. Most kids are not sleeping enough in this country. And that has a huge impact on their metabolism. We know that when we’re sleep deprived, we’re more likely to gain weight. We have higher levels of insulin. We have higher levels of insulin resistance and metabolic syndrome. So it’s really important that you put restrictions on your children’s sleep and wake cycle. That really is helpful.

Dr. Elizabeth Boham:
Our teenagers still need 8 to 10 hours a night. Those 6 to 12 year olds need 9 to 12 hours of sleep at night. And of course, the 1 to 2 year olds are needing 11 to 14 hours. So, as you get younger, you’re needing more sleep. But even though teenagers need 8 to 10 hours a night of sleep, and it gets harder when they get older. They want to stay up late. They want to be on their phone. They want to talk to somebody. It’s really important.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
That’s tough, yeah.

Dr. Elizabeth Boham:
We know that children, in the children years, if they get to sleep before 8:00 PM, they have a lower rate of obesity, they have a lower rate of weight gain. They have less, of course, sleep deprivation. They get better sleep. We know that sleep deprivation, as I mentioned, increases insulin, it increases Ghrelin, which makes them hungry.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yeah. If you don’t sleep enough, you’re hungrier, and you crave more sugar and carbs.

Dr. Elizabeth Boham:
Absolutely. And then you create this-

Dr. Mark Hyman:
That’s true for adults as well.

Dr. Elizabeth Boham:
It is. It creates this inflammatory process in the body, that even if you’re eating the right foods, you’re more likely to gain weight, which I think is important to remember, that even if you’re eating the right foods, if you’re not sleeping enough, your metabolism can be messed up. I talk to my daughter about this one all the time.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
I bet. Well, the other thing I often talk about is how do you make your home a safe zone?

Dr. Elizabeth Boham:
Yes.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
A kid who is three years old who is gaining weight, ,or five years old, isn’t saying, “Hey, Dad, can I have the keys go to the car? I’m going to go to McDonald’s,” or, “I’m going to 7-11 to get a big gulp.” They’re not doing that. How do you make your home a safe zone? I think this is so important. Yes, it’s okay to have treats. If you’re making, make cookies yourself, make it from real ingredients. Don’t eat a ton of them. You can have stuff, but if you want French fries, make them yourself. I think there’s a level of responsibility that the parents have, which was also important for themselves to actually create a safe home environment for their children.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
People put little things in the plugs. A kid is less likely to die from electrocution than they are from the bad food that you have in your cupboard, than the Fruit Loops you’re serving them for breakfast, or the French toast or the sweetened yogurt, which has more sugar per ounce than a can of soda. So we really have to take that seriously.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
And in my house, my son, he said, “You know, Dad, I want to have my friends over, but there’s nothing to eat in the house.” And of course there was a lot to eat. It just was stuff you had to cook and make, and it was real food. I said, “Okay, let’s go to the grocery store.” And I said, “You can get whatever you want, buy whatever you want. There’s one condition. You have to read the label and it can’t have any trans fats or high-fructose corn syrup.” He’s like, “Dad, there’s nothing to buy. Nothing.” And I’m like, “Exactly.” There are grocery stores where you can buy healthier forms of snacks. There are, a place like Thrive Market, you can go to ThriveMarket.com and find delicious snacks that are lower in sugar, they’re higher in protein, they have good fats and don’t have all the refined starches and sugars. So you can do it, but it takes a little work and it takes a little education. And I think that’s the problem, is we really aren’t taking this seriously as a society.

Dr. Elizabeth Boham:
And now your son is an amazing cook and he loves to cook and make delicious food that I’ve gotten the great opportunity to consume. So I think we have to be getting our kids into the kitchen at a young age, even when they’re two, having that high chair or their bouncy seat right in the kitchen, getting them used to and around your cooking, getting them involved, having them have input really is helpful. We don’t want to be just like, “Oh, you can’t have this and you want to have this.” You want them involved in the process. It makes it a lot better.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Absolutely.

Dr. Elizabeth Boham:
You want them having suggestions like, well, let’s come up together with some healthy food that you want to have tonight. What would you like to help me cook? Can you help with preparation, peeling or cutting or mixing. That really gets them involved, and they become part of the recipe and the preparation, and then they love it more. And then they want to eat it more.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yeah. And you can make cool stuff that’s delicious. Like, instead of making waffles from white flour, you can make waffles from cashews, for example. So you make cashew waffles, or you make almond flour pancakes. So there’s substitutes in swaps that kids can still have fun. And you don’t have to put on a ton of maple syrup, you can use fruit, you can use fruit spreads. So there’s a way, there’s a lot of hacks. When my kids were young, we had a book called, Pretend Soup, which was like 50 recipes that are fun to make with your kids, that have fun names, that are delicious to eat, that are made from real ingredients. So I think we all have to get back in the kitchen. I think the average person in America spends more time watching cooking on television than actually cooking themselves.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
So I think we have to get back into the cooking situation. It doesn’t have to be that hard. We had a doctor dinner at our house the other night, and you came a little bit late, but George was there and Tom was there early, and literally nothing was ready. And it was 5:15 and everybody was coming over at 5:30, and literally dinner was ready and on the table at 5:45. And we made this incredible meal, I just stuck some lion’s mane mushrooms in the oven, we start taking some Chinese cabbage and garlic, which took three minutes. We put a roasted salmon in the oven for 20 minutes, and roasted squash, butternut, Kabocha squash, and tossed some cinnamon on there. And we just threw it all on the oven. It was delicious.

Dr. Elizabeth Boham:
It was delicious, Mark. Thank you.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
You have this gourmet meal, but it doesn’t have to be so hard and it can be incredibly yummy and delicious.

Dr. Elizabeth Boham:
And I think… That that was delicious, thank you. And I think what’s really critical is just recognizing how important it is to be working right from the beginning. Right when your kids are born, and early in life, and not just sort of putting it off because it really makes a huge difference for them later on.

Dr. Elizabeth Boham:
The first case I have is this ten-year-old. And for boys, it’s actually a common age where they do start to gain some weight, because it’s before they start to grow. So sometimes a little bit of extra weight around that age may be okay, but this mom was getting concerned and he was gaining a little too much weight around his belly. He was starting to play more on his phone and playing more games on his phone. So he was becoming less active outside. When we got his detailed food intake, we realized, and mom actually realized, how much some of these processed refined carbohydrates were sneaking into his diet. Not that he had a bad diet, but they sneak in. He was having some pancakes for breakfast, and he’d come home from school and snack on crackers and pretzels with some juice. And he was kind of picky, he wasn’t a big vegetable eater.

Dr. Elizabeth Boham:
So what was really critical, and what we really focused on with him, and as you know, we have a nutritionist with every patient who comes in, they see a nutritionist as well. So our nutritionist really focused on getting him cooking, and getting them excited about all the different things that he could prepare and cook. And that was great for him. He started to experiment with different vegetables in the kitchen and went shopping with mom. We encourage mom to really, and dad, to pull out some of the refined and processed foods at home. So they weren’t even around, like you said, make it a safe zone. So he doesn’t have to, “Oh, okay. I’m going to not want to eat those extra cookies or the extra crackers.” You don’t even have to make the decision. The food’s just not there at that level.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Not there, yeah. I think you can go out and stuff if you want to treat or whatever, but it’s an effort. If you have to drive five miles to go get ice cream, you might not do it. And listen, there are many nights when I would be home, if there was a Haagen-Dazs vanilla Swiss almond, or Ben and Jerry’s chunky monkey in the fridge, I would eat it. I would eat it. Even me, who knows more than most people about nutrition and has written many, many books about it, I would eat it. So I just don’t have it in the house. And my daughter, we were on vacation in Martha’s Vineyard was like, “Dad, let’s go get ice cream.” I’m like, “Okay. It’s like a 20 minute drive. Do we really want to go?”

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Okay, we’ll go once, and it will be a treat, and I’ll do it like once or twice a summer. That’s fine. But it’s the daily inundation with the ultra processed foods, which is 60% of our calories. It’s killing our kids. And I think we really have to understand the role of the family. And even if you have a weird family, like you’re a single parent, or I was a single parent, you can do it. I made it a huge point at family dinners, and I’m just amazed at how many families don’t eat together. I was just interviewing Sean Stevenson ,who grew up in a very underserved areas, very food insecure, lived on food stamps. He said he can count on the fingers of one hand the number of times he sat down with his entire family for a family dinner.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
And it was something that I insisted on, even when I was working hard, even when I was a single parent and had a job, just trying to do it all. It was so important to me to come home, to cook with the kids, bring them in the kitchen, have them help, teach them about food. And now they’re both amazing cooks. They love to make food. I didn’t teach them to cook. We just did it as part of life. And it’s sort of how we all grew up learning the traditions. And now we have generations who don’t know how to cook. Who have never cooked a meal. Who don’t know how to stir fry a vegetable. Who don’t know how to cook an egg. Who don’t know how to just do the most simple things other than open a package and stick it in a microwave.

Dr. Elizabeth Boham:
Yeah, and I think that’s what really was great with this first case here of the 10 year old boy, is that he learned a lot more about nutrition and he got involved in it. And then he was the one leading the way in terms of, let’s make this, mom, and let’s add in this vegetable. And we really also focused on his sleep. At age 10, you need that 10 to 12 hours of sleep a night. And a lot of times parents forget that, and they don’t realize they still need a lot, a lot of sleep, those kids. So that was really important. And he’s doing great. He grew, and so his weight is now in the normal range. And he’s just really thriving and doing well.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
That’s wonderful. It’s not always easy, and it is a struggle. I used to make my kids lunch every day, healthy lunches, and they’d bring them to school and they would trade with other kids. So you can only go so far, but there’s a lot we can do as parents to make a difference. And there’s also a lot we need to do as a society to address this at a bigger scale. In some countries, like Chile, they’ve eliminated all food marketing to kids between 6 in the morning and 10 at night. They’ve put warning labels on boxes. They’ve taken off Tony the Tiger and all cartoon characters from many kid’s foods. They’ve not allowed any junk in schools.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Now, in our schools, they have what we call competitive foods. So competitive foods. So let’s see. Do you want an Apple, or do you want a cookie? Well, the kid is going to eat a cook. Of course. So the whole system is terrible in our schools, the school lunches need a long way to go. 50% of schools have brand name fast food companies serving food in their school cafeteria. It’s Taco Bell Tuesday, it’s McDonald’s Monday, it’s Wendy’s Wednesday. It’s terrible out there. And Pizza Hut, and this and that. 80% get funding from soda companies and there are soda machines, and it’s really criminal. And even if the school lunch is okay, and then of course they circle the kid’s schools, and the school districts, especially in underserved areas with bodegas, with all kinds of crap, with fast food restaurants. Think about it, you wouldn’t let crack dealers stand outside the playground and be ready for when your kids come off the playground to give him some crack. And that’s exactly what we’re doing with our kids

Dr. Elizabeth Boham:
And then sports drinks, a lot of times parents think, oh, my kid just played four hours of soccer today, and they need a Gatorade or two. You just don’t need to do that. You can just give orange slices at halftime, and give them water, and there’s electrolyte replacements, if you want to use that, that don’t have added sugar, and you can just use coconut water too. There’s lots of ways to avoid all that extra sugar.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
That’s true. We have to, as parents, take a stand. We have to go into our schools and take a stand, but also we need bigger systemic change. I think that’s one of the things I’ve really focused on, and with Food Fix book I wrote last, I really talked the bigger systemic issues, because we can do all we want as parents. But if their kids are seeing 5 billion ads on Facebook, if they’re getting 10,000 commercials, if they’re targeting poor minorities, if they’re using basically mind manipulation techniques to get these kids to become addicted to these foods, if they’re using all these cartoon characters. Disney went so far as to say, we’re going to take out all this stuff from the… McDonald’s and the food, we’re not allowing that to happen anymore.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
There are companies that are doing it, but we need real serious policy change, because our children are so threatened. And I do think we need to go to war to solve this, because we are heading towards this just horrible crisis. It’s like COVID, you say, oh, there’s 180,000 new cases. Okay, great. And then the hospitalizations aren’t so bad, but three weeks later, the hospitals are full. It’s not three weeks with obesity, but it’s 10 years, 20 years later. And what’s really frightening to me, Liz, is when you look at the data on how these kids do, not only are they stigmatized as kids, not only are there these social ramifications, but these kids are less likely to graduate high school. They are less likely to get a job. They are less likely to have a good career. They’re less likely to earn a significant income. They are less likely to have successful relationships and marriages. And it’s like, wow, this is unconscionable. It’s unconscionable.

Dr. Elizabeth Boham:
And as we mentioned, if you’re overweight at a young age, it’s just much, much, much harder to maintain a healthy weight as an adult. So it’s really important for us to deal with prevention and not just then working on, oh, we’ve got to get the weight down, weight down way down as an adult. You want to prevent it from the start.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yeah, I agree. I think we are in a crisis moment, and when I read that stat, that one in four teenage boys has diabetes, or type two diabetes, or pre-diabetes.

Dr. Elizabeth Boham:
Pre-diabetes, yeah.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
How do we live with ourselves as a nation if we let this happen to our children? So I think, at the UltraWellness Center here, we deal with all sorts of issues. And I think we deal well with obesity, really well with childhood obesity, using a very comprehensive approach of medical evaluations, nutrition consultations, coaching, support. But this is a big, big problem. And I think we all have to take this on seriously as a nation.

Dr. Elizabeth Boham:
I agree, Mark.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Well, thanks, Liz, for again being a guest and The Doctor’s Farmacy. I know this has been not the most uplifting conversation, but we got to have it. We got to talk about it. We got to think about how to solve it. And I encourage people to share about this, and their struggles and issues. Leave a comment, share with your friends and family. We’ll see you next time on The Doctor’s Farmacy.

Dr. Elizabeth Boham:
Thank you, Mark.

If you are looking for personalized medical support, we highly recommend contacting Dr. Hyman’s UltraWellness Center in Lenox, Massachusetts today.

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