Archive for the ‘Obesity’ Category

Obesity: A problem too big?

May 20, 2008

Washington Post Article

Here is a link to a Washington Post article about obesity in both urban and suburban children.

As many readers know, I have done a few other posts on obesity and focused particularly on overweight children.

This article in the Post quotes parents and dietitians making excuse after excuse for overweight children, and it is oh so easy to buy into. “There aren’t enough outreach programs,” “Our schedules are so hectic,” etc.

My response: if you didn’t allow your child to become overweight in the first place, you would not need an outreach program. If you took the time to be a disciplined, interactive parent, you could do yourself for free what outreach programs do for a cost. An added benefit is that the parents, instead of a strange instructor works side by side with their children.

You don’t need to pay an outreach program to tell you what’s wrong. Why do you need someone to tell you skim milk is healthier than 2%? Why should you have to pay someone to tell you that carrots are better for you than chips; that going for a walk is better than watching television; that a turkey sandwich is less fatal than fries and a coke?

One parent stated that it is so frustrating when her son says “you’re a mean mom for not letting me have this milk shake. It’s not fair.” Okay, and whose fault is it that your son associates your love for him with food.

I spend most of the summer with my aunt and uncle and their two kids who are 4 and 6. Jacob, 4, is in soccer and t-ball. Katie, 6, is in gymnastics. Their parents have instilled in them a sense of self-restraint with regard to food indulgence. The kids regard french fries as a sort of special treat only eaten on the rarest of occasions. They do not drink pop- only milk, water, and 100% juice. They walk their children to school pending the weather. The kids play outside almost every day. They eat at least two fruits at every breakfast and two vegetables at every lunch. Despite my aunt’s full time job as a judge with DCFS and my uncle’s job as an attorney who owns his own firm, they find time to keep their children healthy and active. It requires discipline; it requires time, but their children are worth it.

Parents who claim they are too busy to prepare and offer healthy meals, physical activity, and regular meal times to their children, in my opinion, are not trying hard enough. There is certainly something in EVERYONE’S day that can be sacrificed for the health of their children. This should be an unquestioned fact of good parenting.

Parents: stop making excuses. Stop waiting until your child has high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and a low tolerance for physical activity. Stop waiting until there is a problem before taking action. I feel like we choose instead to pay for a remedy “after the fact” rather than put in the time and effort to take preventitive measures. WE ARE KILLING OUR CHILDREN.

Obesity is a big problem, and it starts with every one of us. Parents must be willing to take individual responsibility (and yes, even blame) for their child’s health and weight from the get go. It is far easier to instill and establish good habits early on than to try to rectify deeply-rooted mistakes later in life.

Some may point to the fact that I am not a parent- that I do not know the struggles parents face in issues such as these. I would disagree. I know the eating and living habits my mother worked diligently to help me with. I know that for this reason I avoid sweets, junky snacks, and fast food. For this reason, I take time out of my very busy schedule as a student with a double major, a part-time job, and the position as president of my college to run three miles four times a week. I walk instead of driving my car whenever possible. I eat until I am satisfied and I do not overfeed myself. I know how to live in a healthy way, and I know why I am able to make these choices- because my parents taught me how.

Once I am a parent, I will care enough for my children’s well-being to promote similar life style choices. I want my children to be happy and healthy, right from the start.

Do you?

Big Brother is Watching You

September 25, 2007

For those of you who don’t know, my favorite book of all time is 1984. I have read it five and a half times (I couldn’t finish it again this summer before coming to school), and I am just absolutely in love with it. The title of this entry comes from the book. This slogan is plastered on every sign throughout the country: Big Brother is Watching You.

The idea of being watched over by our higher government powers is something quite frightening, at least to me it is. History has shown us time and time again that dictators often take totalitarian control of a country because they are “doing what’s right for the citizens”. They are not scrutinizing the people’s every move for any personal gain, but for the good of the country. When citizens do not know how to make their own valid choices, the government steps in to lend them a hand. Often, this can begin in the most subtle ways.

I believe it was two days ago when CNN did a wonderful documentary titled, “America’s Killer Diet”. It opened with depicting a young, Jamaican boy who had gained weight exponentially since coming to the U.S. The story was heart-wrenching and very sad to watch. The documentary continued with showing the various ways in which America’s diet, to put it bluntly, murders us. The saturated and transitive fats, the calories, the carbs, the processed garbage- it destroys our health.

One of the big problems CNN touched on was the amount of Omega 6 oils consumed by U.S. citizens. Omega 6 oils are essential to our diets, but not in large quantities. They are found in the form of soybean oil, and over-consumption of these oils cancels out our consumption of very important Omega 3 oils, found in certain types of fish, almonds, avocados, etc. (As a side note, check the food labels on your next meal; you’ll be shocked to see how many things contain soybean oil).

Anyway, the documentary proceeded to interview various nutritionists, doctors, and lobbyists regarding the excess amounts of Omega 6 oils in everything we eat. One woman even went to far as to assert that the government should prohibit these oils from being so widely used, even suggesting banning them completely as a concern for public health. She then continued to say, “I guess that sounds something like a nanny state, but if that’s a nanny state… haha well then so be it.”

The gears in my head came to a screeching halt. WHAT?! “If that’s a nanny state then so be it,”?!?!?! I truly cannot believe how often people are so willing to let government creep so far into their lives. This woman told CNN, told the country, that she believes that it is okay for the government to dictate WHAT WE EAT. It is not as if America has stopped importing a certain kind of crop from another country because the country has been using toxic pesticides…No. This is completely different.

This woman has said, in so many words, that citizens cannot make their own healthy choices, so the government needs to make them for us. False. I am taken back to ever-enduring words of Benjamin Franklin who said, “Those who are willing to give up a little bit of freedom for a little bit of security deserve neither and will lose both.” You said it, Ben.

If you are willing to stuff your face with McDonald’s four times a week, please do not come crying to the Supreme Court that you are now morbidly obese. McDonald’s, along with other multi-million (multi-billion?) dollar fast food corporations are doing what they do to make a buck. Your own choice was to down a Big Mac instead of munching a carrot. Your prerogative was to grab the large fries as opposed to a yogurt. YOU PICKED the milk shake, the fried chicken, the cookies, the deep frying, the whatever. You chose it; you deal with it. I do not for one second believe in condemning the fast food industry for the obesity of the American people. So many individuals find the strength to say no; why can’t you? So many others find the energy to hit the gym a couple times a week; why can’t you?

If we tell the government, “Hey, it’s fine with us. Step in and dictate what we may eat; make us thin again through restriction on foods,” what kind of barrier have we taken down? How far will that allow the government to go until we’ve decided it’s gone “too far”? From that point, where do we draw the line?

To the mother of the Jamaican boy who was somewhere between 10-12 years old (I cannot remember)… suffering from high blood pressure, sky-rocketing cholesterol, and teetering on the border line of diabetes… Where were you through all of this? Why didn’t you ever say to your son, “You’re eating poorly. You’re gaining weight. You’re not exercising. You need to change your habits, or I’m going to change them for you,”? It was her job as a mother to take care of her son’s health, and I feel like she failed to do so. However, she is now able to blame it all on our country’s food products, get some time on a CNN documentary, and earn some extra cash for her and her son’s appearance.

God bless America.