Archive for Thursday, October 18, 2007

No easy fix

Education is only one part of creating a healthier generation of youngsters in Kansas.

October 18, 2007

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If taking a class could make people lose weight, there would be lines around the block to get in.

The number of overweight or obese youngsters in Kansas probably is a legitimate cause for concern, but the idea that the state can legislate a solution to it borders on comical. Nonetheless, state health experts are urging the Legislative Educational Planning Committee to come up with measures that will increase physical education and nutrition instruction for Kansas children.

We can teach health in schools; we can teach nutrition. We can offer prizes to children who turn in cards supposedly verifying that they've engaged in physical activity. But does that mean we can produce a leaner or healthier generation of young people?

Health, physical education and nutrition have been taught in school for generations. Interestingly, some of the lessons taught to students 40 or 50 years ago now have been proven wrong. Maybe the current lessons will be more accurate or have more staying power, but the lessons taught to the parents and grandparents of today's students haven't produced a generation of fit and slim adults.

The effort to fight "obesity" also poses a risk of overemphasizing weight control. With some discipline and incentive, most people can attain a certain level of fitness through exercise and diet, but not everyone can be as slender as an athlete or super model. Advocates seem focused on the right ideas when they talk about health and nutrition education, but it's important to send young people the message that being healthy doesn't always mean being skinny.

Some observers also have made the point that putting pressure on schools to address the obesity trend isn't fair. Don't schools and teachers already have enough responsibilities? Children can learn all about nutrition in the classroom, but they eat the majority of their meals away from school with parents who may lack the time or knowledge to follow through on healthy lifestyle initiatives. Parents who can't find time to exercise for their own health probably won't make time to share workout activities with their children.

Education and awareness are important but knowing what you should do and doing it clearly are two different things. Living in today's world doesn't require much in the way of physical labor, and the temptations posed by advertising and plentiful high-calorie food are difficult to resist.

Making sure our children have the information to make good choices (when they choose to do so!) is a step in the right direction, but adding weight to the state statute book probably won't be a quick fix for the problem of childhood obesity.

Comments

Ragingbear 7 years, 10 months ago

All these restaurants claim to be doing "their part" to combat obesity. In other news, the only way to get the monopoly pieces for McDonalds is to buy the large fry and drink.

During the healthy options that Subway started up last spring, all employees were told to ask the customer if they wanted double meat and double cheese on their sandwich.

Spangles only offers nutritional information on 6 products. The rest is guesswork.

Schools still serve cruddy, greasy food. Give you 20 minutes for lunch, and have you stand in line for 12 minutes of that time.

With the possible exception of chicken, it cost roughly 5 times as much to prepare food from real substances like vegetables and such than it does to buy a TV dinner. Guess which one is worse for you?

Every holiday the candy industry has us give out enough candies to everyone to cause a million diabetics to simultaneously go into comas.

98% fat free still means that 2% of that jar of mayonnaise is lard.

Two words: Fried Twinkies

Three words: Smothered with cheese

3 out of every 5 commercials during prime-time television is for food.

Buffets are great. Especially when you go back to get your 6th plate so you can "get your money's worth".

Chocolate Shake (20 oz): 750 calories, Juice Stop smoothie (24 oz):325 calories.

BigDog 7 years, 10 months ago

Ragingbear

People have to take responsibility for their own eating habits and those of their children ...... restaurants and others would not keep selling the stuff if Americans didn't keep buying it. The car doesn't drive itself. The problem is many parents have given into their kids. The kids wanna go to McDonald's and because it is convenient and they are so busy with their activities or those of their children, they stop...... but most also allow their kids to order whatever they want. In most cases buying them dinner instead of preparing dinner is far worse for them. When going out to eat people rarely take their kids out to a Subway or somewhere where the meal is healthier, instead its McDonalds, Sonic, Hardees, etc. Heck Hardees is introducing this breakfast burrito that is over 900 calories. I am betting that they will sell a lot of them too.

I am sure many people's self-driving cars are going to take them there too.

Confrontation 7 years, 10 months ago

"it's important to send young people the message that being healthy doesn't always mean being skinny."

This is the key point. Skinny children aren't necessarily healthy children. If you are blessed to have the genes that keep you slim, regardless of your diet and exercise, then that still doesn't mean you are healthy. My spouse, for instance, is incredibly thin, but has to take cholesterol meds. Yes, a lot of that cholesterol is genetic, but eating full-fat dairy and fried junk sure didn't help.

Children have eating disorders because they look at the disgusting bodies of the models and actors. When's the last time you saw a department store commercial where the women had any visible body fat? Why is it that you must be able to count the discs in the spine of all models and actors? When did it become attractive to visibly count a woman's ribs between her fake breasts? The emphasis needs to be on "healthy," rather than "skinny." Calling your children "fat" is not going to encourage them to become healthy. It's sad that many parents are okay with their children puking up their food or starving themselves.

Ragingbear 7 years, 10 months ago

~~Heck Hardees is introducing this breakfast burrito that is over 900 calories.~~

A Hardees Monster Burger with standard condiments (mayo and pickles) is 2140 calories. So one burger is 140 calories over the daily recommended allotment for a 180lb man in a sedentary (desk job) lifestyle.

True. Personal responsibility does play a key role. But the corporations,restaurants, schools, and packaged food industries all play a role as well. For example. You can see a "healthy option" meal at the store. On the front it says "only 200 calories!", so you think that this meal is only 200 calories. That is until you flip it over and read the fine print where it says "Servings per container:5".

Many restaurants that offer sit-down dining may offer low cal, low carb, low fat or low sugar meals. But they won't provide any information on what "low" means, or any reasonable way for you to calculate your caloric intake.

I am a compulsive overeater. I acknowledge that. I weighed 430lbs this summer. I have already lost around 40lbs in a healthy manner by monitoring caloric intake, excersize and a few habit modifications. But, part of my system is to monitor my calories. Something I can't do if I am in the mood for Chinese food, or a steak at one of our Steakhouses, or even getting anything more than a pita or jello at Spangles (Although the commercials still suck).

Ragingbear 7 years, 10 months ago

Children at schools commonly do not have a choice as to what they eat. Especially when the parent(s) are making barely enough money to cover the bills and the child is on the free lunch program. Most of the food is low quality, extremely fatty, and full of sugar or carbs with little real nutritional value. Heck. The most nutritious substance at lunch is milk, and even that can be fattening if you drink too much of it. I remember on multiple occasions that my middle school would have "BBQ Pork" for our main dish. I also remember biting into 1/10th cup size pieces of pure barbecued fat. I would ususally get 3-5 out of each serving. The rest was heavily marbled. Sure, you can go to the "salad bar" which is usually lettuce, a few carrots, and a 5 gallon bucket of ranch or Italian dressing. Both of which are tons of calories, lots of fat, and virtually no nutrition.

Your right. Stop going to restaurants for your meals every day. Even fast food should be limited to 2-3 times a month. Same goes with ready made heat-and-eat foods like frozen pizza, tv dinners and the like. And stop putting sugar on everything. I've seen grown adults put sugar on Lucky Charms, or as I like to call it, Sugar Frosted Sugar. Seriously, how much of that cereal is pure sugar? Even as a kid I could never eat it because it was too sweet, and I still got a heck of a sweet tooth.

Most of the recent generation of adults (those just turning 20-21) have no clue how to cook. Most of the time Home Ec is either optional, non existent, or teach you stupid things like how to clip coupons and watch Oprah at the same time. It's no wonder that you run into people that ask why you have a 10lb bag of flour, and are flabbergasted when they hear that you can use it for more than breading chicken or pork chops.

Magpie 7 years, 10 months ago

The focus on obesity might also be damaging because only fat people are targeted by these health campaigns. What about the normal and thin citizens who eat like Dumpsters and sit on their arses all the livelong day? Are these people really healthy just because they aren't fat? For example, the BMI scale tells me that I am at a "normal" weight, but I eat a lot of junk, drink copiously, and haven't made it to the gym for over a month. My job requires me to sit in a chair and stare into a computer screen. I get zero exercise there, unless typing counts as some sort of light-duty cardio. Luckily, I don't need a public service announcement or a bit of legislation to tell me that I am leading an unhealthy lifestyle--I already know that I need to change my behavior if I am going to live past 40. But the focus on weight irks me. We should ALL make a commitment to lead healthier lives, even if we aren't obese.
-- Ragingbear said: "A Hardees Monster Burger with standard condiments (mayo and pickles) is 2140 calories." WOW. I have to stop ordering those.

Ragingbear 7 years, 10 months ago

The BMI is idiotic. I am 6'0 and it says I should weigh 165lbs to fit into the "optimal" weight category. Even without my fat, I know I would weigh closer to 210. 165 and I would look like an AIDS victim heroin junkie.

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