By The Prophet of Life
According to the Center for Disease Control (CTC) Obesity has tripled for children and adolescents over the past 30 years. In 2010 one third of all children and adolescents in the U.S. were obese or overweight. That’s 23 million kids according to the National Collaborative on Child Obesity research (NCCOR). 70% of these obese youth have a 70% higher risk of high cholesterol / high blood pressure which are two of the main indicators of future heart disease. They also have a greater risk of developing diabetes and joint pain and several different particularly nasty forms of cancer. NCCOR also ads higher risks for Asthma, psychosocial problems and sleep apnea to the list. The current generation is the first in a long time which is predicted to have a shorter lifespan than their parents.
What can be done to turn the tide? According the CTC, teaching children healthy lifestyle habits including maintaining a healthy diet and a consistent regiment of physical activity are a good start to address the problem. Getting children and adolescents to maintain those healthy habits, on their own, for a long period of time is critical but more difficult to do. From the time they can watch a TV children are bombarded with ads for sugary breakfast cereals, fat filled processed foods featured at fast food restaurants and holidays filled with sugary treats (Halloween, Christmas, Valentine’s Day).
Despite these grim statistics, some things are being done. First Lady, Michelle Obama has launched the Healthy School Lunch Initiative and because School Lunch Programs are funded by the Federal Government, school districts across the nation have moved to lower the fat, sugar, salt and thereby, calorie content of the foods offered in their school cafeterias and / or school lunch programs.
The new lunch menus are not exactly a hit with students across America who are likely in withdrawals from the sugary, salty, fatty foods they are used to eating. There has even been some pushback from students, students at one school in Middle America even making a music video which parodies the hit song “Tonight We Are Young”, called “We Are Hungry” decrying the lower calorie content of the food and likening it to starvation. Some teachers are even complaining about the food (perhaps because many of them have to eat it too). An Alternative Rock band made up entirely of teachers, appropriately named Teacherz, put out a song entitled “Cafeteria Food” (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y1XmrfOfJeE), which satirically decries the poor quality of the food offered to youth through school lunch programs.
20 States around the nation have begun cracking down on childhood obesity by sending out “FAT” Letters. The State of California began sending out “FAT” letters to parents of overweight or obese school children on October 23. The letters gave parents information on how their child faired on California Physical Fitness Test standards in terms of strength, flexibility and body-mass index. A goodly number of parents in California got letters which stated that their child had failed in one of more of the three areas.
On October 24, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and LAUSD School Superintendent John Deasy participated in a “Walk to School” event to encourage physical activity. Only about 19% of LAUSD Elementary students, 21% of Middle School students and 28% of High School students passed all of areas tested. It was unclear whether or not part of the message was for kids to walk to school but it is interesting to note that The mayor and Superintendent chose to “Walk” in a low crime neighborhood of tranquil Woodland Hills, instead of one of the more dangerous neighborhoods of the city that many of the students in the district have to risk their lives walking through to get to school.
Whether various government agencies try to wake parents up through FAT Letters, or by providing classes in nutrition. Whether they force feed students healthy food through school lunch programs or various nutritious food stamp programs, one thing is certain. If we are to save the children of America it will take more than just government agencies.
It will take Corporate America to stop looking at consumers as cash cows (who will literally weigh as much as cows) that they can sell cheaply and easily made junk to. It will take the consumers of America to change their diet and exercise habits along with their shopping habits. It will take everybody pulling their weight and leaving their excess weight behind. Not doing so will not only cause the long term illness and death of a huge number of people. It will crush America in debt from the costs of Universal Health Care. It will decimate a generation and cripple a nation.
We can change the statistics cited at the beginning of this article. It will take work but work burns calories. Think about this article next time you are buying that super-sized burger and see if it still satisfies you as much. Think about it next time you buy something in the grocery store without reading the label to see what’s really in it. If this article does, by chance affect you positively, tell a friend, teach a child, how to read a label or how to eat more nutritiously or get them to move and burn some calories.
In True Faith,
The Prophet of Life
Song About Govt. healthy School Lunch Initiative:
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