This week I learned a new word. It literally stopped me in my tracks on Tuesday morning. The word in question, Obesogenic, is not even in the dictionary. This word, used as a description of the American population today on National Public Radio (a favorite of mine), was introduced during a program with a panel of experts discussing the current worldwide diabetes epidemic. The numbers were astounding; with a projected one in ten adults having diabetes by 2030. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) looked even further into the future and projected a shocking one in three Americans will have diabetes by 2050. A real threat to people, but we do have some control of our destiny. A large proportion of diabetes sufferers have type two diabetes caused by obesity. .
Now, before you denounce me for writing this, I am not reproaching anyone who is overweight and I know that there are those who suffer from obesity due to legitimate illnesses but we have to open our eyes and look around us. For the most part, in any shopping center, you can observe more overweight children than I have ever seen in my life, but those children are the adults of 2030!
Two simple things, education and leading by example, can go a very long way to help children and adults alike to fight this problem, but it seems many are keeping their eyes closed to it..
Let us first take us, the parents. We strive to keep our children safe, help them grown strong and healthy, yet how many of us have whisked them through a drive through one too many times and feed them food full of fat, just because it is quicker or easier for our schedule? I will hold my hand up to that, shame on me! Of course a drive through occasionally is perfectly fine, but there are too many out there who use this as their staple diet.
I hear all the time that it is cheaper to eat convenience food than go to the supermarket, especially for the lower income bracket. However, a visit once a week, to the local farmers market will fill your fridge with local fruit and vegetables for not more than the cost of a family meal in a fast food restaurant.
Additionally, there is the question of physical activity. Ok, so not everyone can afford to join a gym, but walking is free and the kids love it! Making health a fun part of life will have a long lasting effect on our children and, if we are lucky, undo some of the damage we have already done to ourselves.
That brings me on to education, where the objective is to pass academic subjects with, it seems, no consideration as to if you are healthy or not. When I was a kid in England, we did Physical Education as a full part of our curriculum. It was not an add on once-a-week class or one semester of the school year, it was all year come rain or shine. We would change into gym clothes and play games such as football, netball, and basketball. We would run or do athletics. We were active and we loved it.
We had cooking and nutrition classes and believe me, if you tried to cheat as I did once, well let's just say if you did the crime you paid with time. I did and I got detention for sneaking in a packet cake mix.
Moving on quickly, don't want to dwell on my misdemeanors, let's talk about school lunches? They used to be nutritious, if not that appealing at times. Sodas and candy were not allowed. Never in a month of Sundays, as we say in England, would you have found Chick-fil-A or a gooey, saturated fat infested pizza on the menu. No, sorry but I am astonished that this is the reality in our schools. Yes, there are healthy options there, but come on, kids are kids, which one do you think they will choose?
Do we need to make a stand and voice for a change? I think we do! I think we should advocate helping educate our children, from every angle, to ensure that they grow up to become healthy adults. The national campaign is the driving force, but we are the army that can make it happen. Let's kick this self driven diabetes in its big butt (sorry couldn't help it) and ensure our kids have a long, healthy future.
Without this, our children are destined to become the quoted statistics of 2050.