A just-released study conducted by the University of Michigan of some 1,000 sixth graders in the state showed proper diet, regular exercise and less television viewing had a dramatic effect on lessening childhood obesity. The study is among the first to prove that even if obesity is linked to one's genetics, it can be combated with a little common sense. In other words, obese kids and their parents will need to find other excuses to explain their bulging waistlines.
Michigan is faring poorly in its battle of the bulge. The state ranks 41st in the nation for highest childhood obesity rates, and a staggering 21 percent of Detroit's kids qualify as obese. That means one in five is likely to suffer weight-related health problems, placing a further strain on our nation's already beleaguered health care system.
U.S. childhood obesity also reinforces a global perspective that America is a lazy, bloated, self-centered superpower whose best days are past.
We still have time to change our wanton ways, though:
– First, we need to stop blaming obesity on genetics. Statements such as: “Why bother dieting and exercising when my DNA has already determined I'll be morbidly obese by the age of 21?” should be countered with the Michigan study facts.
– Second, the government needs to push our nation's public schools to do a better job of educating kids about the importance of exercise and diet.
– Third, parents need to step up to the plate (figuratively, not literally) and better manage their kids' lifestyles (two hours a day sitting in front of a television or computer screen is unacceptable).
– Last, and certainly not least, fast food makers need to stop marketing their mega-whopper, calorie-laden, artery-clogging meals in friendly, wholesome ways (replete with smiling clowns). I think the surgeon general should insist these bacchanalian feasts carry warning labels to the effect: 'This Happy Meal will make you and your body unhappy. It will add empty calories, help raise cholesterol levels and lead to a host of diseases, including diabetes.'
It pains me to see what's happening to our nation's youth. At least, they no longer have the genes/jeans excuse. I guess that's a step in the right direction. Now, kids, it's time to put down the Cheetos, turn off the tube and start getting the old ticker pumping away. You may be saving your own, and the nation's, health and well-being in the process.
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Thanks Bomberpete. Couldn’t agree more. But, it’s not just fast food that’s to blame. How about all those empty calories being pumped out by Coke and Pepsi? A liter of each a week will easily add an inch or two a month to anyone’s waistline.
Robert’s right. We stayed thin(ner) because we ate at home from a stove, our sugar and fast food were limited to rare treats, and we were made to run around outside, to the point where the TV (now the Wii, etc.) were turned off. Those things aren’t in effect with obese kids, who often have obese parents.
Also, better fruit and vegetable options are becoming more prevalent in poor communities through farmer’s markets, CSAs which allow participation by income and local community programs.
Parents have to take responsibility and learn about nutrition. I know that many are stressed from working several jobs, but saying fast food is the only option is being being way too easy on oneself.
Thanks Robert. Hard to argue with your math.
By making this complicated it is easier to not take responsibility. It is easier to not take responsibility for this problem then to deal with it. The reality is the solution is simple. It may be hard for some people to deal with the reality of what we need to do, but the solution is simple. Our kids need to burn more calories then they eat!!! It is that simple. What is hard is the reality we need to face to address the problem. Let’s focus on when the problem starts and that’s when kids are young. The average 6 year old girl should be eating 1,000-1,400 calories a day and the average 6 year old boy should be eating 1,200-,1,600 calories a day. They need an hour of activity or running around a day to burn off 400-600 calories. Lastly they need to drink 8 glasses of water a day. You can argue with my numbers all you want but they are close enough for jazz. What I can assure you is the answer is not for a 6 year old to eat 2,000-3,000 calories a day with limited activitiy and drinking tons of soda. We might not like it but that is the simple truth. Is the solution hard? For many families it will be. But unfortunately there is no other way. I am afraid the saying that winners keep score is not only true in sports but in health as well.
So, Ray, I’m confused. Are you saying low-cost meals at McDonald’s are OK because inner city families can’t afford anything better? I’m sure there are many healthy cost-conscious options available for struggling inner city or rural families. Mickey D’s just happens to be more convenient since they’re on every friggin’ corner.
Agreed, Julia. It’s a slippery slope. The government cuts school lunch funding. Hamstringed, the schools then churn out low-cost, high calorie crap and our kids grow wider than the Mississippi during Spring flood season. What’s a first world country to do?
I believe in survival of the fittest, and knowledge is the key to changing the future. That said, the one thing not being considered is economics. Fresh foods that’ll spoil are preferred for health reasons, while processed foods with a long shelf life are less expensive.
Inner cities see a higher concentration of obesity, while well-to-do shop at their organic markets. With families struggling in this economy, a dollar-menu goes a very long way. Not to mention some families can’t find time to cook healthier, inexpensive meals, because they’re working to pay the bills.
On a lighter note, what happened to the term “husky” to depict overweight children?
I’m not surprised at the rise in childhood obesity, given that most kids would rather make “friends” on Facebook than in the schoolyard while playing sports.
It also doesn’t help that public schools in NY have pretty much eliminated whatever physical education programs they had.
High-fructose corn syrup.