I was accused by my husband of being judgmental several years ago when we took a family trip to Disney World. I couldn’t help commenting on the amount of motorized carts being used by obese, young people who could no longer walk. It wasn’t being judgmental necessarily, it was utter sadness that we Americans are unknowingly making ourselves sick with our Western diet. When I was little if you saw a really fat person, and you were a typical unrefined rude young kid who didn’t know better, you would gawk. However, now I find that people will gawk at fit people and fat people are the new norm.
We are experiencing a health crisis in this country that is out of control. It is not just one particular illness we are dealing with, it is diabetes, cancer, arthritis, colitis, and many other chronic diseases that are not caused by some crazy virus or flu or some horrible strain of mosquito but these horrifying illnesses are caused by the very thing that we love to do - eat. It isn’t the fact that we eat, because eating is historically known for its social basis and elemental comforts as humans. Eating is a social urge stronger and more frequent to humans than sex.(Fox, n.d.) It is very often shared. It is It is how a mother nourishes her child. So it is not that we love to eat, It is the fact that we eat crap. We, as Americans, have been exploited and duped, perhaps even unknowingly if I give these large food companies the benefit of the doubt. Maybe they didn’t know that by making processed foods with additives, chemicals, and artificial ingredients that is was actually, slowly killing us.
Childhood obesity is at a steady 17% in our country affecting 12.7 million children and adolescents. (“Childhood Obesity Facts | Overweight & Obesity | CDC,” n.d.) Armed with this disturbing knowledge, I began a program last year with my freshman Fundamentals of Fitness classes. This class is a requirement for high school freshmen and it mostly entails the basics of learning how to workout in a safe, balanced and effective manner. I decided nutrition was essential to this course. I began with having the students log their food intake for a week in a journal. The results were pretty devastating. The majority of these students ate hardly any fruit or vegetables in the course of a week. Eighty percent ate mostly starches like pasta and pizza and processed mac and cheese day after day.
Why is this happening? Do parents not care? I don’t believe that. I believe parents don’t know. They don’t have the knowledge that what they are giving their kids is setting them up for a life of struggles mentally and physically. We live in a fast paced society where typically both parents work full time. In 2016 67.9% of married couples had both parents working. (“Employment Characteristics of Families Summary,” n.d.) Even if one parent isn’t working we as a society are overbooked, over-stressed, and over-worked. We therefore have made eating an offhanded thing we think of on the way home at night. We will pull over and grab fast food or a frozen pizza. Something quick and easy. Instead of a healthy nutritious breakfast as a start to the day, kids are stopping at Dunkin Donuts or other local donut shops grabbing a “coffee”. I put coffee in quotes because in essence it’s really cream and sugar with a bit of coffee added.
Let’s start to slow down and make our dinner times meaningful with our families. Let’s start to nourish our bodies and our children’s bodies with good, whole food that we cook every night. Let’s stop the progression of the fat and sickness running the nation to an awareness and knowledge that food is medicine or poison. Pick yours…
Childhood Obesity Facts | Overweight & Obesity | CDC. (n.d.). Retrieved May 29, 2017, from https://www.cdc.gov/obesity/data/childhood.html
Employment Characteristics of Families Summary. (n.d.). Retrieved June 1, 2017, from https://www.bls.gov/news.release/famee.nr0.htm
[No title]. (n.d.). Retrieved May 29, 2017, from http://www.sirc.org/publik/foxfood.pdf