F for Fat – Thoughts on Obesity Study

thumbsdownThe Trust for America’s Health recently gave America a “F for Fat.” Are we surprised? Some highlights of the study include:

  • Obesity rates increased in 23 states, and did not decrease in a single state last year.
  • The number of overweight children topped 30% in 30 states last year.
  • Adult obesity rates now exceed 25 percent in 31 states and exceed 20 percent in 49 states and Washington, D.C.
  • As the Baby Boomer generation ages, obesity-related costs to Medicare and Medicaid are likely to grow significantly because of the large number of people in this population and its high rate of obesity.

These numbers are staggering and sobering, and quite frankly, they scare me a little bit. Not only are we getting bigger as a country, but our children are getting bigger too. I know it’s true, just by looking around when I go out shopping. Everywhere I look there are people who are obviously struggling with their weight. It saddens me that instead of getting healthier as more money is poured into government programs, we are getting more unhealthy, and passing our unhealthy lifestyles on to our children.

To anyone who is walking the weight loss journey today, I want to tell you thank you. Thank you for not waiting for the perfect time, or the perfect plan, but rather for stepping out in faith to once again try and get healthy. Every time you make a good food choice you are doing something positive for yourself, and ultimately for your family. Walking, swimming, running and moving push you one step closer towards getting fit. Passing on desserts you don’t love, and opting instead for a healthy treat gives you more energy and improves your self esteem.

Americans are well informed, connected people, and most of us know what we should and shouldn’t be eating. School programs encouraging nutrition have increased exponentially, but haven’t seemed to make a difference in childhood obesity.  Government spending on food studies, and new food pyramids abound, but we continue to get fatter. What has to change for us to quit killing ourselves by overeating?

I believe that true change has to come from grassroots efforts, not governmental efforts. For young children, it’s the parents who generally control what food comes into the house, and into their children’s bodies. The occasional birthday party, or trip thru the fast food restaurant doesn’t make children heavy. It’s the abundance of  fatty food and lack of exercise that are contributing to childhood obesity. As a Mom myself, I know that I am responsible for trying to teach my children healthy habits. They are one of the biggest reasons I pushed through and lost all my weight. What they do in adulthood is their decision, but while they are small, it’s mine.

Young adults on their own for the first time are often attracted to the lure and ease of fast food restaurants, and the first time freedom to purchase whatever food strikes their fancy. If they are anything like me, this can start them on the path to obesity. This is where education, education, education comes in, and programs may help. Encouraging young adults to avoid obesity by staying active and making good health choices may be an option, although practically I’m not sure how this would work.

What it boils down to for me is this. One by one, we can choose to make a change. And every person who wins their own personal war on obesity is one less person who will suffer the health consequences as a result. This will reduce the health costs for all of us in the long run. I’d encourage you to take time and read the study. Notice where your state falls in the rankings, and decide to be one less statistic. Diane

16 thoughts on “F for Fat – Thoughts on Obesity Study

  1. MizFit says:

    off to read the study.

    Im really opinionated (Im with you on the teaching our kids and giving them all the tools for success. Im NOT antijunk food in the schools as it is but the beginning of CHOICES we need to get our children ready to make…) in this one as well.

    • Diane says:

      In Florida where we used to live, not only was there no junk food allowed in the schools, but kids couldn’t even bring cookies with their own lunch! I wonder what kind of lesson that teaches them? And does it set them up for future bingeing because they were deprived of sweets? It’s just like we always say – while you are dieting, don’t deprive yourself of things you love, but rather learn to eat them in moderation.

  2. A Girl Running says:

    In Australia we also had a no junk food rule. Personally I feel it was over the top and a possible lead up to binging and eating disorders. My 5 year old daughters teacher would check her lunch to make sure there was no flavoured drink, no sweet foods and that if she had sandwiches there was no peanut butter (for allergies) no jam (I think you call it Jelly) and no chocolate type spread (nutella). They also took fruit to share for morning tea, were provided with a drink bottle by the school and this was to be full of water that they could carry with them being encouraged to drink regularly.

    Parents were sent regular notes to remind them of the school food rules but also to remind them to give children a healthy breakfast before school to encourage good health and better learning. A breakfast club was set up at the school for children who did not have time to have breakfast at home before coming to school.

    We are now living in Spain for two years and the school rules here regarding nutrition is on the total opposite side of the spectrum! Children here eat a lot of sugar, pastries or chocolate coated cereals for breakfast…if they eat it at all – it’s common for children to go without eating until siesta in the early afternoon. Food is not monitored at school – children rarely bring food to snack on during break but those who do tend to bring all the foods not allowed in her Australian food. Even the sliced bread here is sweet and so full of sugar. There is one water fountain and children don’t bring their own water nor are they encouraged to drink any.

    I think neither way is great, however, Spain is full of small people. Not many are overweight whilst Australia has many obese people. We recently returned for a 2 week visit and were so shocked by the amount of very large people. It was an eye opener and something we never noticed whilst living there.

    I worry about my daughters. I wish there could be a healthy medium used in all schools to help encourage our children to grow into healthy adults.

    • Diane says:

      This was very interesting to me, especially the difference in the size of people you notice in both countries. I wonder if it’s just like we who have lost weight always talk about. If you deprive yourself of the food you love, then you may be likely to binge on that food. It makes sense the same thing might happen to children. I too worry for my children – I don’t want them to suffer like I did. Thanks for the good comment!

  3. Pam says:

    I’m not sure if that no junk rule was in the county you lived or if things have changed, but I live in FL now and I can tell you that there is all sorts of junk in school! My niece and nephew go to a public school where the ELEMENTARY kids choose a la carte. Sure, they have healthy options, but they are also given the choice to buy pizza, chicken nuggets and fries every day, not to mention ice cream every Friday and individual cookies, as many as you want to buy, each day. (I’m all for a weekly ice cream treat, but what is the deal with the cookies????) My niece didn’t like the lunch one day so her only option was a cheese stick. That’s it – that is all she had until she got home. My Mom finally had to resort to packing their lunches.

  4. Pam says:

    Let me add by saying I am totally agreeing with you about learning moderation and arming yourself with knowledge to make smarter choices.
    I just think a la carte is a little too loose for children that young – it should start in middle school (in my opinion).

    • Diane says:

      I agree! This was in North Florida, and I think it was county mandated. My friends would complain that they couldn’t send anything sweet with their children. In fact, they for a while, even banned cupcakes for birthdays! I agree with your previous comment – a la carte is too loose for little children. If I let my 8 year old eat whatever he wanted, he’d never put anything green in his mouth, unless it was a green M&M! Thanks for the insightful comments.

  5. Leah says:

    What an eye opener. To add to what you said our eye doctor informed us a year-and-a-half ago that he is seeing more aging in children’s eyes that is due directly to poor eating habits. We were shocked. He said that is where the children’s diabetes is kicking in, and what used to be an “old person’s” disease has become common among children due solely to their bad eating habits.

    It’s a serious problem that even I have to be more careful of with myself and my family. I’m still learning that even though my children are all thin and active it doesn’t mean they are necessarily healthy if they are just eating junk.

    • Diane says:

      My goodness that is scary about the children’s vision being affected by poor eating habits. Yikes! I had heard about diabetes affecting more and more children, which makes sense when you realize the obesity rate among children has shot up so much.

      I too am careful with my children’s diets, but as they grow older, I let them use their best judgment as far as snacks go. This way, I’m still around watching them, but they get to start to make their own choices. Hopefully that will help them into adulthood! (I hope it does anyway!)

  6. Geetha says:

    I really do believe that it is the responsibility of parents to teach their children proper eating habits but at the end of the day, with the number of fast food restaurants polluting sub-divisions, parents often feel like they are fighting an uphill battle against the fast food industry. In order to curb our fattening fixation, I think it’s detrimental that some degree of regulation be implemented upon the fast food industry (warning labels at the very least)

    For more information please check out our blog http://valuethemeal.blogspot.com

    • Diane says:

      I looked at your blog – very interesting posts. I thought the video about taco bell was funny. We stopped eating there years ago, after our family continually got sick every time we went!

      I agree that it is the parent’s responsibility to teach children good habits. It’s what we try to do. Fast food restaurants abound because we as consumers patronize them. If we stop going, they won’t survive. However, I do think they need to be upfront with the nutritional value (or lack thereof) of their menu items!

  7. Trainer Shauna says:

    “In Florida where we used to live, not only was there no junk food allowed in the schools, but kids couldn’t even bring cookies with their own lunch! I wonder what kind of lesson that teaches them? And does it set them up for future bingeing because they were deprived of sweets? It’s just like we always say – while you are dieting, don’t deprive yourself of things you love, but rather learn to eat them in moderation.”

    This is sooo true!! I know a couple that are so obsessed with weight that they won’t even let their 2 year old have a piece of birthday cake at a party with other kids. Terrible thing to teach your kids! It’s totally setting them up to fear food and is the recipe for an eating disorder later in life!

    • Diane says:

      I had a friend who didn’t let her child have cake until his 2 year old party – when he tasted it he shoved the whole thing in his mouth and demanded more! It was like he was saying, “Hey – where has this been all my life?”

      Kids do need to learn to handle all kinds of situations, and food choices need to be taught right alongside other life choices. Thanks for the comment – you are right on!

    • Diane says:

      You are right, one by one, we can change ourselves for the better, and hopefully influence the people in our lives in a positive way.

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