Thursday, March 4, 2010

Obesity in Children Let's Talk Truth

Many years ago I wrote an Op Ed piece about an article, “Happy Birthday! Have Some Carrots”. It is another manifestation of the obsession our society has with weight, without being willing to look at the root cause of the problem. Maybe we should consider finding the root causes of obesity. 

Let’s take a look at funding in schools for physical education, which has progressively decreased since the late-1980’s. What about funding for park districts that formerly provided after-school programs with physical activity and academics? The schools and park districts in Chicago have experienced more than 85% in budget cuts within the last 10 years. I attended public high school in Chicago. We had junk food, pizza parties and cake for birthdays; but we also had gym 5 days a week instead of 2 like my son does now. We had a Health class that educated us about food groups, the effects of certain foods on our systems and discussed the benefits of running and playing. We played running games outside with our friends after school, instead of lying on the floor playing video games for hours. 

As the parent of a teenager, I believe it is my job to ensure that my son eats a balanced diet, plays outside on a regular basis, participates in sports, understands the importance of balanced meals, knows how to select proper foods and portion control. America is fat beginning with our children, because of our over-indulgence, our “right now satisfaction” mentality and funding being cut at every level for physical education. 

Can we stop blaming the end results and start truly breaking down and attacking the root causes of the obesity levels in the United States? I agree that Type 2 Diabetes in children is deplorable, particularly at the current levels. However, I believe some alternate solutions to serving carrots at birthday parties and putting only healthy snacks in vending machines would include: putting the funding back in public school physical education and extra-curricular school sponsored/organized sports activities, after-school fitness activities at park districts and continue the health education in the school and with parents. Certain types of education begin at home and healthy eating habits are some of them. 

Windy City Diva

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