Child obesity in America…whose fault is it?
Should we blame fast-food restaurants?
Believe it or not the United States of America was awarded as the 9th fattest country in the world in 2007. More than 1.6 billion people in the world are either overweight or obese, according to a recent study by the World Health Organization. This study was based on people 15 years old or older. Child obesity in America has been an issue for many many years. Teenagers are overweight, parents have to work and don’t have time to take care of what they consume and McDonald’s “call them” on every corner they walk by. But who do we blame for our obesity?
The truth is that this is a free country and McDonald’s, Burger King or any other fast-food restaurant can open their doors wherever they want. We have to educate ourselves; we have to educate our children and make the “smart” decision at the time we choose where and what to eat. Is it harder to go to Walmart or Smith and buy a $1.00 Progresso can of soup than go to McDonald’s and buy a $0.99 Hot and Spicy McChicken? Well, it is not. It’s our decision to be fat or not. Or how about we spend 3 hours playing video games on the Play Station, watching TV, YouTubing or Facebooking instead of thirty minutes or one hour working out every day? It is our decision! It’s our decision to avoid child obesity in America.
What are we really confronting?
When we suffer from obesity we have issues like high cholesterol & blood pressure, diabetes, bone and joint problems, liver disease, sleep apnea, etc and for your surprise this can be genetically transmitted to our offspring. In her article Childhood Obesity: An Alarming Trend, Smith, a representative from the International Journal of Childbirth Education (2008) states that there is sufficient statistical evidence to show that overweight and obese adults are more likely to have obese children, and that certain racial/ethnic backgrounds are more affected than others. In the fetal environment, high-folic acid consumption can lead to health problems in a fetus and infant. Additionally, the social atmosphere in which the infant is raised, especially in terms of exercise and nutrition, will create patterns followed by the child for perhaps their entire life.
We need to educate our children
I was raised in a family where I couldn’t lift a heavy box because there was someone else that could do it for me and after years of having everything easy for me, I regret it. I spent my time watching MTV, playing Nintendo and here I am trying to go back in time. Times haven’t changed that much. You can stop by at one of the local high schools to see these cute chubby kids walking on the side walk, getting into their cars, waiting for the bus at the bus stop or just hanging out with their friends. Katharine Mieszkowski, a writer for The New York Times claimed on her article “Games With No Screens and Food That’s Not Fast.” (2011) that:
…during the summer kids are more vulnerable to spend more time watching tv, playing video games than spending time outside playing and getting involve in physical activity. Nearly thirty percent of fifth graders in public schools in San Mateo County, CA were at an unhealthy weight, according to data from the California Department of Education. About one-quarter of children and young adults, ages 5 to 20, in San Mateo are overweight, according to the county health department. (Mieszkowski)
Kids should play actively at least an hour every day, eat more fruits and vegetables, and drink water instead of soda. How delicious is going through a drive through and order a $1 large Coca Cola with ice in it in the middle of the summer? Yes, it is so good. My point is not to eliminate this type of food from our lives and promise you that we’re going to lose weight; my point is to encourage parents and teens to make a smart decision about food, to have self-esteem and spend some time working out and checking what they eat. We don’t have to go to a gym to work out, I used to do sit ups in my bed and pushups on the floor in my room; it’s just a matter of decision.
A free solution to child obesity in America.
While most teenagers feel they’re already grown up and they know what to do, certainly sometimes they don’t. The decisions teenagers make now have an impact in their future, a future that nobody knows what will bring. Our health is something that we need to take care of; otherwise, we will end up on medication; medication that the government, on its “goodwill” will provide to us; but do we really want to live with this life threatening disease?
Why is it that politicians keep increasing their budget for anti-obesity measures or why school boards ban snacks or sodas from campuses?
Radley Balko a 36 year-old writer for the Huffington Post claimed on his article “What you eat is your business” (2004) that
This is the wrong way to fight obesity. Instead of manipulating or intervening in the array of food options available to American consumers, our government ought to be working to foster a sense of responsibility in and ownership of our own health and well-being. But we’re doing just the opposite (Balko).
How we think about the obesity is a problem. Americans need to start thinking on a different way; we need to put our health first and then our satisfaction. He mentioned again:
Your high cholesterol or triglycerides increases your payments of your life insurance, your heart attack drives up the cost of my premiums and office visits, but if the government pays for your anti-cholesterol medication, what incentive do you have to stop you from eating a cheeseburger? (Balko).
I’m completely sure that thousands of people here in America have gone through the same situation, people that now are doctors and even personal trainers that were fat and chubby while they were kids and now they’re advising people how to live better. People that are examples and a living testimony to others that need the courage to make a smarter decision; to think better about their health and even about their appearance. A great example to emulate is David Zinczenko who is the editor-in-chief of Men’s Health magazine. According to his article “Don’t Blame the Eater”(2002) published in The New York Times at the age of 15 “he had packed 212 pounds of torpid teenage tallow on his once lanky 5-foot-10 frame” and now at his 43 years old looks like a model for the magazine he works for.
In American we’re used to blame someone else for the bad things that happen to us. We sue corporations, we spend money in lawyers and we will not stop until we get compensation for our own negligence. A great example of this is what I experienced at my job. A customer put gas on a diesel truck, the engine failed on her brand new 2011 truck and now she’s going to sue the corporation because the repair will not be covered under the warranty. Aren’t we supposed to educate ourselves? In this case isn’t this customer’s own fault that she put gas instead of diesel on her truck? But that’s the way sometimes we are.
Zinczenlo states that “Kids suing McDonald’s for making them fat.” What kind of irresponsible society are we raising? Just like I mentioned before, let’s teach our kids how to make smart decision, let’s help them to have self-esteem and let’s stop blaming these restaurants. Let’s work towards a better food plan.
Food to fuel the body
We have to think better about food. Is food for just “fueling our bodies” or should we make food primarily for health? Mary Maxfield a queer/ feminist/ geek/ activist/ writer, -how she describes herself- and graduated from Fontbonne University recalls on her article “Food as Thought: Resisting the Moralization of Eating” critiques from a journalist by the name of Michael Pollan; this one points out how the food industry, nutrition science and journalism are capitalizing on people’s confusion over how to eat. “The connection we make between diet and health is not valid” sometimes we think to be on a diet for three months, eating probably nothing, is healthful, but it’s not.
Gastronomical philosophers position themselves as protectors of health because they make food primarily for health and not just for “fueling our bodies” because we’re a nation stricken by heart disease, diabetes and cancer (Pollan).
I find hard to believe the idea that we’re fat because there are more fast-food restaurants than places where we can buy healthy food. I have found myself for many years under the “chubby kids” category, and at my 27 years old I don’t blame it on the places where I ate, but I am well aware that laziness is keeping me from getting out of this group. Even though my parents are not obese I feel that I’m getting this “disease” for my own and can probably be transmitted to my children; this shows me that obesity can either be due, just like Smith proves, to genes or by getting it through bad alimentary habits.
I think it’s time for America to start making “smart decisions.” Obesity is not bad only for kids and teenagers, well I guess once they hit puberty they have a high chance to lose weight, and this is probably why parents don’t worry about it. But what If they don’t?; that’s why, once again, we need education in the matter, remember that it’s not only appearance but it’s health.