One in three Oklahoma youth ages 0-18 is overweight or obese! Other states have similar issues, although not this high! (Except Colorado which seems to be quite healthy…at least in comparison.)
Consider what this statistic says about the limited effect of playing and enjoying life for these youth now. (Doing anything physical is more difficult and therefore a deterrent to those activities that could actually reverse this trend!) Consider the future impact to these youth of health complications as adults —- YOUNG adults! Consider the consequence to tax payers whether through increased medical and insurance costs or lack of healthy workforce to move our economy and country forward.
Clearly this is one epidemic that cannot bear our willingness to ‘not notice’.
Why are we in this condition? Yes, too much TV and computer games. Yes, too many parents drive kids to school when they could (should) safely walk. Yes, good nutrition, fruits, and vegetables are expensive for a citizenry in which 65% participated to some degree last year in the food stamp program. Yes, laziness, poverty, ignorance, denial.
Regardless of how we arrived here, what are we going to do? As a community, in our schools, as families, as individuals?
We know that ‘addicts’ will not be able to begin recovery until the addict him/herself makes that commitment. How much more difficult this work is around obesity when society accepts and too often laughs with/at this addiction of inactivity or poor choices or the vicious cycle of poverty.
I do not know the answer. I do know that I will no longer join self-kidding from others who remark about their overweight as though age or work requirements are allowable excuses. I know I continue to invite my family into playful, physical activities….even if rebuffed repeatedly. I know I will seek suggestions from others who face this same worry on behalf of our common good.