THE OBESITY EPIDEMIC

Did you know that if a child has one obese parent, there’s a statistical likelihood that that child will grow up to be obese themselves? Or that if a child is obese as they move into their teen years, there is an 80% chance that they’ll stay obese as an adult?

These are sobering facts that should really bother us, yet we don’t seem to be doing much about it. I’m about to say some things that are probably not politically correct. They just may get some of you upset, so I’ll just apologize now and get that out of the way.

I think that we’ve gotten used to being a fat nation. There are movements out there trying to making “plus size” more socially acceptable. While most restaurants and fast food joints have added healthier choices, the top sellers are still the worst things: burgers, fries, and pop.

Schools used to have physical education classes daily. Now it’s every other day. In some cases, kids don’t even get it anymore.

There’s an old saying: “If you think you can, you can; if you think you can’t, you can’t. Either way you’re right.” If you get resigned to being overweight, you’ll stay overweight. If you make the decision to do something about it, you’ll do it.

We do have a choice with this. We can get down to our ideal, lean weight—the TV show “Biggest Losers” proves it every season. Our own local version has proved it, time and time again. People can lose 100 lbs if they just make up their mind to do it.

I spoke with someone yesterday who told me his dad died from heart related problems at an early age. So did his brother. Of course, this is a massive risk factor that makes heart disease a strong probability for him. The fact that he’s seriously overweight all but guarantees it.

Still, he won’t dedicate even 20 minutes a day to a walking/jogging program. Now he’s definitely a busy guy with a lot of important irons in the fire. But none of those things will get done if he has a heart attack. But he’s just too busy.

I mean, come on. GET UP 20 MINUTES EARLY! A little less sleep now just may prevent a much longer sleep later, if you get my drift. Make some changes. Say no once in a while. You must make time for this.

And if you have kids that are tending to be overweight, it’s not too late for them either. But if you deny the reality of the host of physical problems they’re facing later, not to mention the mental anguish, you’re locking your kids into a life long struggle.

I see the difficulty people have with this every day. It’s not easy, and many people struggle with it. It doesn’t have to be that way. Things can change if you want them to.

Better choices now can make all the difference later. I like a burger and chocolate shake as much as the next guy, but it’s a treat, not a regular meal. It’s not as nutritious, and eaten regularly, will not only make you fat, it’ll make you sick.

I’m sure I’m going to offend someone else here, but QUIT TAKING THE KIDS OUT TO EAT ALL THE TIME! I know its fast—that’s why they call it fast food—but the consequences can last a lifetime. You’ve got to start making sure they eat right.

You need to get them moving, too. I got to watch two of my grand kids playing tee-ball the other day. It was cool, and my cutie-pie can sure hit the ball! But it’s not really physical exercise. Not yet.

At that age, it’s a bunch of kids standing around waiting for the batter to finally hit a pitch served up by the coach. If they need too many whacks at it, they hit it off the tee. Now that’s when all the action starts—a mob of little ones swarming the ball from every direction, and the batter finally runs to 1st base.

The problem is, the action lasts but a moment, and it’s a long time between hits at that age. That means a lot of standing around time. Now that’s fine, and it’s a necessary part of the learning curve, but the kids need more activity. Keep them in tee-ball, but have them do other things, too.

Try gymnastics at Talent’s Unlimited. Now that’s a workout. Or dance class. Or martial arts. They offer it at the Y, and I’ve taught a program here in town for over 20 years.

I used to think the main attributes the kids received in our classes were confidence, self-control, and of course self-defense. Now I’m starting to think that the most important thing we give them is movement. Organized physical activity, and the chance to become lean, and learn how to stay that way.

Even if you don’t take advantage of programs like those, you can take them out for a walk, or a bike ride. Or play a game with them yourself. That way you both reap the benefits. Plus, you’ll be a great example. If the kids see you taking better care of yourself, they’ll be more likely to do it too.

If you’re overweight, it doesn’t mean you have to stay that way. And if your kids are overweight, it doesn’t mean they need to start that way. It’s up to you. It’s up to us. We can stop this epidemic.

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