There is a public health crisis facing the United States and many countries around the world. Unlike so many public health crises resulting in disease, it can’t be cured by an inoculation. The disease has reached epidemic proportions and is called childhood obesity. We need to address nutrition in schools before its too late.
20% of our children are considered obese. That’s 30% or more overweight. Our children are growing up in a fast food and processed food culture driven by speed, cost, and convenience.
The good news is that many people are concerned for our children and are researching ways to halt these trends and turn things around.
Speed – Cost – Convenience
So you may ask yourself, “Where are we now? What is the situation we are living in?” We are living in a culture and time where our decisions about what to eat are decided upon three factors. Speed, cost, and convenience. How fast can our meals be fixed? Are we getting the most for our money? How convenient is this meal? Do I shop for the ingredients or can I drive through somewhere? Is the drive thru close to where I am now?
I think most people are aware of the fact that we eat more fast food than we did as a country even a decade ago. We all have busy and fast paced lives. With the cost of living, most families have two parents who have to work; which means less time for actual meal preparation. We are also aware that fast food is processed food, and not healthy for our bodies.
Not only are we choosing unhealthy foods to eat but we are also choosing to eat too much of it. What we call portion distortion. Fast food companies and restaurants advertise getting more for your money. Who doesn’t want more for less? This is the snowball that started leading to the portion distortion in our society.
We no longer recognize what proper portion sizes are. A serving size of soda in 1956 was 8 oz, now its 20 oz. – over 3 times the size. A good example of this is a McDonald’s meal. What used to be a serving size of an adult meal of a hamburger, french-fries and 8 oz drink is now a child’s meal. We are giving our children adult portion sizes and don’t even realize it because portion distortion is the new norm!
It’s not only fast food. It’s bagels, donuts, muffins, chips. You name the type of food and most likely you’re eating too much of it. The most disturbing fact we’ve learned is that it starts young- the typical American baby is overfed by 250 calories per day.
It’s not only the extra calories that are bothersome but the fact that your children will grow up with this distorted view of “normal”!
Not only is there portion distortion but another kind of distortion, body size! One doctor reports that he worked in a clinic where parents were bringing their children in worrying that they were too small, when in fact they were at the normal height and weight, but smaller than their friends and other family members, who were, of course, overweight or obese.
The danger in eating processed foods, too much food and having a distorted view of “normal” is not just being overweight or lacking in self-confidence, it can lead to preventable life threatening illnesses such as heart disease, diabetes, and shortened life expectancy.
Another troublesome finding in regards to childhood obesity is that the current twenty-somethings represent the first generation in history that is not expected to outlive their parents!