The problem of childhood obesity is big and a uniquely American one.
When I was a child living abroad, food was relegated to 2 categories: sustenance or treat. Since I attended boarding school between ages 9 and 15, sustenance meant dining hall meals (no second helpings) and treat meant a couple of cookies, a glass of cocoa or orange squash from my food box (a wooden lock box designed to store non-perishable food items). Rarely we shared treats at a midnight feast on the tennis court. At break-time we purchased a meat pie, scotch egg, sausage roll, or yoghurt from the kiosk. Sustenance and treat sometimes intermingled. Visiting Sunday, a 2-hour monthly visit from our families is one example. Since home cooked meals were considered contraband, some parents found a way to sneak them in, elevating it to treat status. A casserole dish of food divvyed up among 5 or 6 girls ended up being a few spoons apiece. Fruits and water were readily available.
I don’t recall feeling hungry nor do I recall feeling full.
Based on this early conditioning, my approach to food has remained consistent over the years. And while I don’t have a prescription for the obesity problem, re-evaluating the process of how children are introduced to food early on is something to consider.