Obesity is a huge problem for kids, not only here in Canada and the States but also overseas. In the UK, the government got involved by sending out controversial "fat letters" to parents of primary schoolchildren whose body mass index (BMI) results showed they were overweight or obese.
But that approach totally backfired. Only one-fifth of parents responded favourably to the letter.
Now a new initiative has been proposed: healthy food vouchers for parents of overweight children. A similar program already exists for pregnant women and moms on low incomes. It's probably a step in the right direction, and far preferable to the shaming method.
The trouble is, when it comes to eating habits and sedentary lifestyle, the apple usually doesn't fall far from the tree.
Obese kids tend to have obese parents. If mom and dad live on junk and processed food, so do the kids. And would these parents take advantage of incentives to eat more fruit and vegetables, as public health experts advise, because it would mean them overhauling their own habits? Often the reasons behind obesity are more complicated than that.
Further, how would providers ensure families were spending the vouchers on healthful products, and would the stipend be sufficient to change eating habits? It's a slippery slope to mandate how people spend their grocery money.
The percentage of obese children in primary school is rising every year. Upwards of one in three, according to some surveys, and possibly more ssince weight often is not recorded for otherwise healthy young children.
Studies show that many of us believe what some refer to as "puppy fat" is cute and harmless since those extra pounds will likely be shed over time. But that's not strictly true, and by the time puberty rolls around those habits - and excess pounds - are harder to shift, even despite growth spurts and higher caloric needs.
RELATED: Proactive Measure or Fat Shaming?
My kid just loves practicing her instrument for hours every day, said no parent ever.
While many of us love the idea of our kids learning to play piano or other instrument, getting them to practice their craft is harder than getting them to willingly munch on steamed kale while doing algebra.
Even for kids who are passionate about music, extra motivation is needed if they are to keep at it.
In the case of seven-year-old Ryan from the Suzuki School of Newton, it meant holding on to his Halloween costume for a while longer.
For the talented Ryan, shown in complete costume as Darth Vader, it's playing the Sith's theme from Star Wars on his cello.
Not many young kids dig the classical masters. There's plenty of time for them grow to appreciate their Brahms and their Tchaikovsky, yet they'd be more inclined to sit down and practice the scores to movies they recognize and absolutely love.
I think it's a stroke of parenting/music teacher genius, even though I'm not sure about the mask is necessary for the full effect.
Because the world clearly doesn't have bigger problems, a former Arizona pastor launched a movement against Starbucks, which he claims "hates Jesus."
What has Starbucks done to offend religious conservatives? It has stripped the reindeer and festive designs from its cups, opting for a minimalist red design to complement its existing green logo.
In doing so, the coffee chain has effectively killed Christmas.
In a viral Facebook message, Joshua Feuerstein has urged customers to get the last laugh by telling baristas their name is "Merry Christmas," tricking employees into writing and calling out the festive message on cups.
The hashtag #MerryChristmasStarbucks is nothing short of a protest against the coffee chain.
But Starbucks is treating the red cups as a "blank canvas" in which customers are urged to exercise "their own creativity" to add festive decals as they see fit.
"Over the past few years, our customers have been showcasing their work on Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest, and we even held a contest to support this creativity," said a statement by Starbucks officials. "This year's design is another way we are inviting our customers to create their own stories on our cups."
Since 1997, the cups have sported a holiday theme, but that costs time and money. I'm only surprised that anyone cares all that much about what their cups look like before they land in the recycle bin. Frankly I'm more concerned about what's inside the cup...
But Starbucks does have a point. The holidays mean different things to different people, and not Christmas isn't celebrated by everyone. So I personally have no problem with people switching up "Merry Christmas" to "Happy Holidays."
By all means bring along your own festive cup, wear mistletoe on your head and your reindeer sweater till your heart's content. But know that the red cup isn't a "War on Christmas." The red cup isn't an all-out attack on Jesus and in fact, Jesus doesn't even figure for everyone (and what does Jesus have to do with reindeer, anyway?).
And, as this TODAY presenter pointed out, leftover cups from the holidays can conveniently be used when Valentine's Day rolls around.
Image Source: Instagram