The chart below shows the unheralded rise in pediatric obesity (not overweight, just obesity) over the last 40 years. Outrageous, and downright scary. Kids today are flocking to multi-billion dollar pediatric centers for adult-onset diabetes, heart disease, joint replacement and bariatric surgery. This too little (but definitely not too cheap), too late approach is literally killing us. The generations behind us are not only impacting the expense of healthcare, but consider what it’s doing to our national defense. One in four young adults signing up for service are unfit to join. This is going to get worse before it gets better.
It’s blatantly obvious that the answers will not (actually, they cannot) come from our government, from our food industry nor from our community’s healthcare system. It has to come from inside the home. The more you rely on the grocery store to feed your family, the greater chance your kids become a number on this chart. Recently, Hostess filed for bankruptcy. Good. If you’re not part of the solution, you are the problem. And making organic mac and cheese won’t do it either.
We have to model the right behaviors and start connecting with entities that are committed to truly nourshing the body. Focus on live foods, even if they are frozen or canned. Frozen veggies and fruits are generally inexpensive and they are likely in better condition in winter than the fresh stuff. Most frozen produce is picked fresh and immediately frozen. This is opposed to the tomato in the produce section that was picked green and allowed to turn red on the boat coming up from Chile. It’s likely that your local community has a winter CSA or Farmer’s Market where fresh produce is greenhouse grown. Again, beats a shipped product any day.
Although Georgia’s childhood obesity messages are harsh, they are true. Too true. Watch this video: Stop Childhood Obesity. It’s not too late to prevent or even treat the problem. Learn about whole, real food and clean out your pantry. Fill up the fridge and freezer with food that could rot (try to eat before it gets there).
Your kids are going to bellyache and complain. Likely you will too. But what is satisfaction? The two seconds of enjoyment your child has gulping down his ice cream, or the lifelong gift of health and vitality? The ability to engage in any and all activities, never having joint pain or stiffness, and a sharp mind until a ripe old age. That’s satisfaction to me. My kids aren’t old enough or mature enough to make the satisfaction decision. That’s my job. I’m a parent. I have to model the right behaviors and provide the tough love so that they do too. That way, they never make it onto this chart.
Jeffrey Gladd is a family physician specializing in integrative medicine at GladdMD Integrative Medicine.
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