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Saturday, February 13, 2010

Michelle Obama Addresses Childhood Obesity

I was glad to see Michelle Obama tackle the growing problem of childhood obesity.  Like the Obamas or not, this is an issue we should unite behind and support.  The percentage of overweight children in Arkansas alone is 37.5!  Do we really want to sentence our children to a much shorter life filled with health problems?  Studies estimate that as many as 1/3 of children born in the year 2000 or later will suffer from diabetes sometime in their life as well as heart disease, cancer and asthma.

If you have been reading my blog very long, you may remember I told you that the age of my husband's patients has steadily gotten younger.  He treated a 26 year old male with heart disease this past week.  When you suffer from major illnesses such as diabetes and heart disease at such a young age, your life expectancy is greatly shortened.  All the health care reform in the world won't help if we don't start taking our health seriously and taking better care of ourselves. 

Growing up in the sixties and seventies, there were few overweight children.  I can't recall a single child in my elementary school who was remotely overweight.  I can only think of one or two teens in my high school who were overweight.  It wasn't until I was in college that I saw someone grossly overweight; there were two.  I can remember how labored the breathing was for one who was in my business classes.  Now I see kids in junior high and high school who don't look as good as I do and I've had two children, one by c-section. 

I continue to be amazed that not only do kids today not eat vegetables, they don't even know what many of them are!  My husband was eating dinner with the swim team the other night and zucchini was served.  One college aged boy didn't know what it was.  That same night, I was at a meeting for my son's trap shooting team and one boy there made a face at the beef vegetable soup, stating, "I don't eat vegetables.".  If we don't eat food that is good for us, there is no way we will be healthy for long. 

What can we do to promote better eating habits in our children?  If there are children in your life, your own kids, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, set a good example by eating and serving vegetables and fresh fruits.  If your children are on a sports team, ask that snacks (junk) not be served after the game.  This is common for many sports when kids are very young.  They don't need a snack after an hour long game when they will be going home soon for lunch or dinner anyway.  The same thing goes for Sunday school.  Many teachers will bring candy or donuts to Sunday school, mostly as a way to get kids to behave.  Ask that food not be served.  Talk with children about the importance of eating well and how it helps their bodies grow strong.  Even young children need to hear this information.  Point out to kids that their favorite athletes usually eat careful diets to perform at their peak.  Let your child pick out a new fruit or vegetable to try every week.  Or grow something in your own yard.  The excitement of growing it and picking it will make many kids eager to eat it.   

As Michelle Obama said, "It's not about being 100 percent perfect 100 percent of the time.  It's just about balance.  It's about small changes that add up - like walking to school, replacing soda with water or skim milk, trimming those protion sizes a little - things like this can mean the difference between being healthy and fit or not."  I hope you will join Michelle Obama and make a difference in the life of a child.

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