Thursday, May 11, 2006

Do a Google news search for 'obesity'

Here: I did one for you.

What's interesting to me about the obesity 'epidemic' among children is that the stories are coming from all over the world. Headlines about the topic are in Canadian, Chinese, British, Indian and Australian papers, as well as many in the United States. They all say pretty much the same thing: Kids are getting fatter because they eat too much junk food and don't get enough exercise.

I doubt if this problem gets solved before my grandchildren have children. This is just my opinion, of course, but as long as we would rather drive or sit rather than walk or bike, and as long as we prefer our meals in boxes or bags, rather than prepared from fresh ingredients, we're going to have a worldwide weight problem.

I set up a Google news alert to send me links to news stories about obesity. Frequently these 'news' stories are opinions, but since they've been published in a newspaper they are included in the alert. The biggest obesity news lately has been the ... ahem ... growing problem of fat kids.

I actually joined the New York Times' Times Select to read their Talking Points column from the May 10 issue. Eleanor Randolph sounds off in a piece called "The Big, Fat American Kid Crisis ... And 10 Things We Should Do About It."

I believe she may have read J. Eric Oliver's Fat Politics. [Thanks again to Beth for mentioning that book.] Randolph and Oliver both suggest stopping the subsidization of junk food. According to Randolph, the government hands out nearly $40 billion to corn farmers each year, encouraging the production of high-fructose corn syrup – a major ingredient in sweet snacks. Oliver discusses this issue extensively in his book.

Oliver contends that being fat does not necessarily mean one is unhealthy, and I agree with him. His one concession is that excess weight stresses the joints, especially of the hips and knees. But being fat doesn't automatically sentence you to a lifetime of heart disease, diabetes and stroke. And I guess, so far, I'm proof of that. Last fall was the first time in the last five years my bloodwork had ever shown an eleveted cholesterol level. My blood pressure is always on the low side of normal, my heart rate is steady, my lungs are clear and my blood sugar levels are well within the normal range. I've also been overweight or obese [according to the BMI standards] for the last five years.

Will putting nutrition information on fast food encourage kids [or adults] to choose a salad over the burger and fries? Will taking sugary sodas out of school vending machines prevent youngsters from bringing sugary snacks and drinks from home? Will any food-related suggestion, if implemented, reduce our taste for sugary, salty, crunchy snacks and have us choosing grapes or strawberries instead? [If agricultural subsidies are necessary, why not subsidize fruit farmers?]

Our modern lives are designed to accommodate cars, not feet. Isn't it ironic that we drive to a gym to walk on a treadmill, or drive to a mall to walk its perimeter, all in the name of exercise?

I don't know where I'm going with this. I just needed to say it.

1 comment:

Tori said...

Your comment about our lives are designed to accommodate cars struck me. 5 years ago I trained and walked in the Avon 3 Day. I still walk for excercise but not to the extent I did then. Anyway, my point is it isn't always easy to walk in our area which is acually more pedestrian and bike friendly than most areas. There will be a nice walking path by a road or street that dead ends with no way to safely cross forcing you to turn around, cross and walk on the "unsafe" side of the street to get to your destination. Sidewalks are like that too! So if you want to walk or ride safely you get in your car to go do that as a seperate activity. Why not make it easy to be part of your day, such as walking to work, or to drop your child off at preschool.