Thank goodness, I lost the weight as I grew older — and got much healthier along the way, too.
But Harry Schwartz, known around the country as Chef Harry, says many parents — his own and many others — believed the same thing and helped raise a generation of overweight children. Other parents have succumbed to sheer convenience, like settling for putting fast food on the table.
In his latest book, Fit Foundation: A Guide to Help Achieve Good Health for America's Overweight Youth, Schwartz sets forth a plan to help get obese kids headed toward proper nutrition that's fun and tastes great, even developing a whole series of delicious and easy-to-prepare recipes for getting a kid's diet in shape.
Schwartz has been the host of PBS' "Chef Harry & Friends," the Shop at Home network's culinary expert, the Do It Yourself Channel's entertaining expert, a syndicated columnist, and a frequent guest on TV and radio.
But his early years were spent not delving into proper nutrition, but following his father's advice and beginning his career in business. In fact, the Harvard-educated Schwartz made a fortune as owner of a scrap-metal recycling business before retiring at age 34 to pursue his great interest in food.
Studying in Paris at the prestigious La Varenne cooking school, he founded several restaurants, but never forgot his unhappy and overweight youth.
A chubby child, he says he had to endure endless ridicule and teasing from other kids. Schwartz explains: "One day, I happened to catch sight of my naked body in a full-length mirror and literally lost my appetite. I couldn't believe what I was seeing. I didn't want to look that way anymore.
"So I fasted and exercised without a doctor's supervision, and got so sick I couldn't keep it up anymore. Eventually, my doctor made a plan for me, I lost 100 pounds, and have learned how to keep it off."
In Danger of Problems
According to the American Obesity Association, more than 30 percent of children ages 6 to 11 are currently classified as overweight, and more than half of those overweight children will likely remain obese into adulthood. These startling facts show that today's unhealthy children are in danger of also incurring major problems, including juvenile diabetes, asthma and hypertension.
And that's why Schwartz decided to step in. A chef to the stars, he decided to use the information he had at his fingertips to write his sixth book, which not only deals with childhood obesity, but provides options for parents to help build a strong foundation for their child's health and well-being.
Included in his 178-page book are nutritious, delicious and uncomplicated recipes for meals, snacks, bag lunches and parties.
In his book, Schwartz pinpoints the issues surrounding why kids overeat or eat the wrong foods.
They do it, he says, for comfort reasons, because it is in their genes, or simply out of convenience.
As he explains: "We all have one thing in common as a society, which is that nobody in America seems to have any time. We are a generation raised with the luxury of convenience, including fast foods, which we direct toward our family. A bad thing. We can still eat fast food. We simply have to educate our children to make better choices."