It doesn’t really seem fair to talk about Childhood Obesity Awareness Month in the middle of September without accepting some responsibility for how and why one in 3 children in the United States is overweight or obese. It also doesn’t feel right to say that childhood obesity puts kids at risk for health problems that were once seen only in adults, like type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease; especially when we (the adults) have been, in part, guilty of giving in to and encouraging children to follow in our footsteps. Sure, we could also blame society and culture, but why bother?
Our children will be born of our actions. Our accidents will become their destinies. – Zadie Smith
We could also blame genetics, certain medical conditions and sleep disorders, chronic pain disorders, limb problems, depression, certain medications, lifestyle, diet and exercise for playing a part in obesity, but…
Today’s obesity snapshot is not about blaming; it’s about solutions. The solution is to remind ourselves, each other and the children in our lives that childhood obesity can be prevented, and healthy life choices (food, exercise, etc.) are things most of us have some control over. Since it’s all about solutions, below are the top 5 things we can do to prevent obesity:
- Get outside, get a little natural sunlight, and engage in activities (CDC).
- Unplug and unwind; limit TV, computer and video game time to 2 hours or less each day (DOH; We Can!).
- Consider healthy meals and healthy tips (ChooseMyPlate.gov).
- Prepare and actually eat healthy foods (fruits and vegetables) and snacks (Let’s Move!).
- Make fitness a priority, and make it a family/friends/community thing (National Institutes of Health – NIH).
Washington University in St. Louis’ Neil Schoenherr, Senior News Director, shared information on a national study conducted by Brownson and partners. The study examines ways federal policy can impact childhood and adolescent obesity. To read his article, click here.
If you need some healthy ideas on where to go in St. Louis, there’s always the St. Louis Arch, Forest Park, and Blueberry Hill! Enjoy!
Cans of soda/pop: A familiar presence.
NEW YORK, NY – JANUARY 23: Cans of soda are displayed on a shelf on January 23, 2013 in New York City. As American consumers continue to shift to water, coffee, and other drinks, soda sales have fallen in the U.S. Soda sales in volume dropped 1.8% last year to $28.70 billion. In New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg has a launched a campaign and passed a ban on extra large-size sodas, which his administration has linked to diabetes and obesity.
Obesity: Not just an East Coast/West Coast thing.
NEW YORK, NY – SEPTEMBER 13: An advertisement features 21 ounce drinks on September 13, 2012 in New York City. In an effort to combat obesity, the New York City Board of Health voted to ban the sale of large sugary drinks. The controversial measure bars the sale of sugar drinks larger than 16 ounces at restaurants and concessions.
Bans on sugary drinks…
NEW YORK, NY – JUNE 11: A woman walks by a sign advertising sugary drinks in a Brooklyn neighborhood with a high rate of obesity and diabetes on June 11, 2013 in New York City. Three months after a judge struck down New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg administration’s ban on large sugary drinks, lawyers for Bloomberg are trying to convince an appeals court on Tuesday to reinstate a ban. On Monday, New York City health officials declared a ‘diabetes epidemic’ in New York stating that deaths linked to the disease have reached an all-time high in the five boroughs of new York. According to the Health Department, a record 5,695 people died from diabetes and related causes in 2011.
Obesity can happen anywhere.
BEIJING, CHINA – JULY 16: An overweight Chinese student weeps after a light exercise during training at a camp held for overweight children at a local university on July 16, 2014 in Beijing, China. Obesity is a growing problem amongst the burgeoning middle-class in China, and recent studies show that the country is now the second fattest in the world behind the United States. Many parents send their children to special summer camps in an effort to get them into shape and prepare them for the hectic challenges of life in one of the world’s largest economies.
Healthy eating crosses all continents.
BRISTOL, ENGLAND – JANUARY 07: A woman passes an advertisement outside a fast food outlet on January 7, 2013 in Bristol, England. A government-backed TV advert – made by Aardman, the creators of Wallace and Gromit – to promote healthy eating in England, is to be shown for the first time later today. England has one of the highest rates of obesity in Europe – costing the NHS 5 billion GDP each year – with currently over 60 percent of adults and a third of 10 and 11 year olds thought to be overweight or obese.
The potential: Any city, any campus in America; and beyond.
REEDLEY, CA – OCTOBER 21: (L-R) Mary Healy, Makayla Smith, Marissa Hamilton and Elizabeth Fedorchalk react as a classmate surprises them as they sit in the girls dorm at Wellspring Academy October 21, 2009 in Reedley, California. Struggling with her weight, seventeen year-old Marissa Hamilton enrolled at the Wellspring Academy, a special school that helps teens and college level students lose weight along with academic courses. When Marissa first started her semester at Wellspring she weighed in at 340 pounds and has since dropped over 40 pounds of weight in the first two months of the program. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 16 percent of children in the US ages 6-19 years are overweight or obese, three times the amount since 1980.
The right to choose…
NEW YORK, NY – JUNE 11: A woman walks down a street with an extra large drink in a Brooklyn neighborhood with a high rate of obesity and diabetes on June 11, 2013 in New York City. Three months after a judge struck down New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg administration’s ban on large sugary drinks, lawyers for Bloomberg are trying to convince an appeals court on Tuesday to reinstate a ban. On Monday, New York City health officials declared a ‘diabetes epidemic’ in New York stating that deaths linked to the disease have reached an all-time high in the five boroughs of new York. According to the Health Department, a record 5,695 people died from diabetes and related causes in 2011.
Real world ads for obesity…
NEW YORK, NY – JULY 09: Andrea Herbert attends a protest billed as the `’Million Big Gulp March’ in lower Manhattan which is opposed to Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s proposal to prohibit licensed food service establishments from using containers larger than 16 ounces on July 9, 2012 in New York City. In an attempt by the administration to fight obesity, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced plans recently to implement a ban on the sale of large sodas and other sugary drinks at restaurants, movie theaters and street carts. The ban has proved controversial with many people saying it will not decrease obesity and will be a further erosion of personal choice.
Poor eating habits continue to cross continents.
BRISTOL, ENGLAND – JANUARY 07: A man holds his mobile phone as he sits on a bench on January 7, 2013 in Bristol, England. A government-backed TV advert – made by Aardman, the creators of Wallace and Gromit – to promote healthy eating in England, is to be shown for the first time later today. England has one of the highest rates of obesity in Europe – costing the NHS 5 billion GDP each year – with currently over 60 percent of adults and a third of 10 and 11 year olds thought to be overweight or obese.
A healthier America has remained a priority on the First Lady’s list.
WASHINGTON, DC – MARCH 14: U.S. first lady Michelle Obama speaks during the ‘Building a Healthier Future Summit’ of the Partnership for a Healthier America (PHA) March 14, 2014 at the Washington Hilton Hotel in Washington, DC. The first lady keynoted the summit which focused on ending childhood obesity.
Eli Manning’s on board with helping end obesity.
WASHINGTON, DC – MARCH 08: New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning speaks during the ‘Building a Healthier Future Summit’ March 8, 2013 at the Lisner Auditorium of George Washington University in Washington, DC. U.S. first lady Michelle Obama also spoke during the event on ensuring the health of the nation’s youths and childhood obesity.
Michelle Obama attends “Let’s Move” event in Harlem.
NEW YORK – NOVEMBER 18: First Lady Michelle Obama (C) participates in a ‘Let’s Move’ after-school event in Harlem with elementary school children at the New York Police Athletic League’s Harlem Center November 18, 2010 in New York City. Obama’s ‘Let’s Move’ campaign highlights the importance of physical activity and healthy eating for children in an effort to combat childhood obesity.
USOC Media Summit – Atmosphere
DALLAS, TX – MAY 14: First lady Michelle Obama speaks about her ‘Let’s Move’ campaign to get kids active during the United States Olympic Committee Media Summit 2012 at Hilton Anatole on May 14, 2012 in Dallas, Texas.
If not careful, our pets can become overweight.
NEW YORK, NY – JUNE 23: Formerly overweight dachshund Obie visits the NBC’s ‘Today’ at the NBC’s TODAY Show on June 23, 2014 in New York, New York.