Over the holidays I was speaking with my son’s friend, Alex, who had recently returned from spending a semester of college in Amsterdam. During his 4 months abroad, he traveled extensively throughout Europe and was sharing some travel stories and observations. What I was struck by was something Alex mentioned that really caught his attention; something that seemed pretty surprising to him as he moved about Europe. He rarely saw an overweight person. This wasn’t something he was trying to pay special attention to. It was just so striking and so visibly apparent that he could not help but to notice. And keep in mind, this observation was the absence of something noticeable. In other words, it’s one thing to notice the presence of obesity in a population, but something very different to notice its absence. This is so telling. We are so accustomed to seeing our own overweight population, that its absence was so strikingly apparent. That’s a stunning observation.
Back here in the States, it’s fair to say that obesity and an overweight population are indeed apparent and are a serious problem. We have young children experiencing a much higher rate of diabetes than we’ve ever seen before. Young adults in their twenties and thirties are experiencing heart issues. This is not characteristic of a healthy society.
To begin the New Year, below are three steps that are easy to follow and can truly make a difference in the health of our children… and when I write “our children” I mean that in the collective sense. Even if you don’t personally have kids, this is still an issue that affects us all, and is important to the overall well being of our nation. We are indeed our brothers and sisters keeper, and this must be true when it comes to our children.
1) Eliminate sodas and other sweetened beverages from your diet, or your child’s diet. Studies show that an overweight person can lose 25 pounds in a year by replacing one 20 oz. soda a day with a no calorie beverage (preferably water).
2) Eat at home more instead of eating out. Children consume almost twice (1.8 times) as many calories when eating food prepared outside the home.
3) Get involved with the schools in your community (even if you don’t have kids), and tell them to stop selling junk food, and sports drinks to our children.
Over the last two decades, rates of obesity in the United States have tripled in children and adolescents aged 6 to 19. This really is an urgent matter and it’s not overstating it to imply that it’s a matter of life and death.
Let’s make it a lean year. Peace and good health to you as we begin our 2013 journey.