I read an article about how we are a nation that has become obsessed with losing weight. After I was finished laughing hysterically, I realized I needed to do more to help combat this problem. I don’t mean the problem of individuals writing articles about things they know nothing about; I mean obesity and being over weight.
Here it is in black and white, sixty-four percent of Americans are overweight. That's about 168,000,000 people. More than forty million are children. These numbers are staggering. If we eliminated this epidemic, the amount of money saved would be around, are you ready, $117,000,000,000. The zeros can get confusing, that says $117 billion. What would that do for our so called sluggish economy?
So why are so many people overweight? I don’t think there’s a short answer. What causes one person to be overweight might not be the same for the next. For the sake of this article, I will be focusing on overweight children, although most of the information will be the same for adults.
Let’s start by looking at a child’s home life. This is where I think it all begins. Have you ever heard the saying, ”if your parents had kids, then there is a good chance you will to”. The same goes for being overweight, smoking, swearing and many others. If a child’s parents are overweight, that child stands a great chance of following in their footsteps.
Consider this, according to the international health, racquet & sports club association, only about fifteen percent of Americans have memberships to heath clubs. This means that eighty five percent either don’t need to workout, workout on their own, or don’t know how important staying fit really is and what effect it has on their children.
If parents aren’t willing or are ignorant on how to instill healthy habits in their children, there currently is little hope they will develop those good habits on their own. In addition, most parents are overweight themselves, and don’t feel they have any right telling their child to eat healthy and stay active. Misery loves company, or should I say breeds company.
What’s that, what about school you say. It only gets worse from here. According to the center for disease control, only sixty percent of children participate in physical activity while in school. That means, forty percent sit at a desk almost 7 hours until school is out for the day.
There is a saying or rather a law I like to use when discussing in activity. It’s called newton’s first law of motion. An object at rest tends to stay at rest and an object in motion tends to stay in motion. A child that participates in physical activity, will tend to stay active, while one that sits and does no physical activity will continue to do so.
This is not the childs fault; he or she is not the reason for this motionless state. First, it is the parent’s responsibility; however I’m not letting the school of the hook. As I wrote in the article “weight training for the school aged student and why schools drop the ball”, it comes down to lack of better education on the gym teachers part, and the fact that most schools think of gym class as a recess as apposed to physical education.
Studies have found that physical activity can make a person more intelligent. There is nothing else taught in schools that can cause a child change their intelligence. You can teach a math problem, spelling of a word or how birds fly, but they do not become more intelligent. Their ability to learn does not change. However, if you provide physical activity first, the child's ability to learn is increased. This change takes place at the neurological level in the brain.
I would not expect most parents to be aware of this information, but it would seem that the school system would be implementing this as fast as possible. Instead, they are requiring physical education for as little as 2 years for ninth through twelfth grades and as little as once a week in first through sixth grades.
Now let’s focus on food intake for children. Many don’t eat breakfast, or if they do, it’s loaded with sugar and non complex carbohydrates. The school lunches, if they bother to eat, are loaded with sugars and fats. To be fair, I will say that the school lunches are getting better. But, the fact that so many schools have additional items the students can buy that are not controlled by the state undermines any benefit the state achieves.
Next, I blame all of society. People have become so “pc” in the way we talk and act towards others that we have made it wrong to label someone as fat. We don’t seem to have any problem calling someone diabetic, a smoker, drinker, cancer patient, quadriplegic, etc. But, if you call someone fat or even refer to them as overweight, you are labeled as mean and hateful.
It is understandable as to how this happens. Considering that society is made of the majority of people, and the majority of people are fat.
If you where to give your child cigarettes you would go to jail. If you where to physically harm your child you would go to jail. Finally states are starting to look at emotional abuse and sending parents to jail. Then why in the world are they not doing something about the damage parents do to their children by letting them get fat. An overweight child has a much less chance for success in every aspect of life, starting in school right on through adulthood. In addition the child’s life span is shortened, and they will most likely develop various medical conditions in addition to be overweight.
The overweight child’s quality of life is severely retarded. They will not be able to do the same things the other children are doing. This will in turn make them more of an outcast, and begin harming them emotionally. This sounds a lot like emotional and physical abuse to me.
The end to this epidemic has to start somewhere, and that somewhere starts with our children.
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