Monday, February 25, 2008

A New Form of Child Abuse?


This past December my family spent some time away from Ottawa's frigid temperatures on Florida's Sanibel Island.

On the island is the original Cheeburger, Cheeburger a burger joint likely named after the goings on in the classic Saturday Night Live John Belushi skit, Olympia Cafe. Cheeburger, Cheeburger now has over 80 locations across America and their motto is, "Big is Better".

Walk inside and immediately you'll see their Wall of Fame where folks who eat their 1lb burger are immortalized by Polaroid and pinned in pride to a wall of cork.

They also have another wall of fame - the Kids Wall of Fame where kids under 12 who eat a 1/2lb burger have their own wall of "pride".

Looking at the pictures of the kids, many look to me to be in the neighbourhood of 6-10 years old and sadly I'm sure the vast majority of their parents likely provided a great deal of encouragement and reinforcement in teaching their child that eating far more in a sitting than they'd ever need to is an accomplishment worthy of parental pride.

I know, I know, I'm a stick in the mud and it's all in good fun, yet over the past 30 years, American childhood obesity has quadrupled for children ages 6–11 (from 4 to 19 percent) and while I don't think it's all because of Cheeburger, Cheeburger (who by the way make absolutely fantastic burgers), I do think a great deal does have to do with parents who encourage unhealthy eating and sedentary behaviours through poor role modeling, and in cases like this, through what I would describe as overt gastronomic child abuse.

Me? I'd love to see another wall up in Cheeburger, Cheeburger. I'd call it the Parents Wall of Shame and I'd take the picture of any parent who encouraged and allowed their child to gorge unnecessarily, all the while cheering them on, and then I'd post that picture for all the world to see what woe-derful parents they are.


[Hat tip to my father for taking the pictures after we'd left the island, to Ronnie for lending him his camera and to my wife for noticing the walls while she picked up our takeout]

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6 comments:

  1. Anonymous11:06 am

    I'm an adult - an overweight one who admits that I eat too much - and I have a problem fininshing a 5 oz burger from Wimpy's (delicious burgers, by the way). I can't imagine how on earth a child could possibly polish off an 8 oz burger!

    And just as frightening is the thought that when the child turns 13 and wants that "honour", he or she will start in on the 1 lb burgers just to get on the wall!!

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  2. Anonymous11:35 am

    I've been to that Cheeburger Cheeburger (and a couple of other locations for the chain) and I must say I'm always disgusted by the amount of food people willingly put in their bodies. I've never been able to successfully finish one of their (smallest sized!) burgers, so it shocks me that people would let their kids eat a giant sized one. I was a bit pudgy as a child and it was miserable to be the "fat" kid, why would somebody want to subject their child to that? Nevermind the health problems, what about the social consequences of being overweight?

    There's a reason I have a problem with kid's menus: they're full of crap like this! Healthy eating just isn't a priority. It's sad.

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  3. Reminds me of a pub I used to frequent that put a plaque on the wall for those who drank some number of beers. At least all the beers did not have to be consumed at one sitting.

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  4. You absolutely have to be kidding me. Who in their right mind would allow their child to eat something like THAT?!? Horrendous.

    PS. Do you love Sanibel or what? I was there a couple of years ago and just loved it :)

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  5. My god. As a fairly new mother this scares the living crap out of me. My boy is only 6 months old and already one of my main concerns is how I am going to be able to control his eating habits. It baffles me as to why a parent would actually encourage such behaviour.

    I mean seriously, as a parent there is no need to be a total junkfood nazi but this is just ridiculous! Way to go to all the parents out there who set there kids up for a adolescence full of ridicule and a lifetime of struggle with weight problems. A big ol' two thumbs up from me!

    Argh! I need to stop myself there. This makes me so very mad/sad.

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  6. I couldn't agree more!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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