Friday, April 02, 2010

One in Seven

C-SPAN StudentCam 2010 First Prize MS Winner - 'Childhood Obesity: A Challenge Facing America' from Matthew Shimura


http://studentcam.viddler.com/videos/watch.php?id=9932b996

8 minutes, one 7th grader, and an epidemic of epic proportions - borne by the children of the world's most powerful nation. This is not the American dream.

One out of every seven preschool children is considered obese. That literally brought tears to my eyes. How oh how did we manage to devolve to the point that children are regularly being diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes, eating pizza for breakfast and playing WiiFit on sunny summer days?? For all the supposed progress of the past thirty or forty years, we've completely neglected the basic requirement of life: nutritious food.

Do you remember when food was considered a source of health?

It was not so long ago, really, perhaps a generation or two. But, oh, how far from there we are now. Now what we eat (i.e. food-like substances)is the number one cause of chronic diseases, for both young and old. 70% (that's a lot) of diseases are preventable through lifestyle changes. Stop eating crap and you will live longer and, more importantly, you will live better. Start moving and you'll feel even better.

It's simple, so why isn't it happening?

What I find most confounding is the amount of flack British chef Jamie Oliver has received recently for his efforts to help the city of Huntington, West Virginia eat better. From what I can discern, based on the listservs, blogs and media reports I've read, it seems the main issue people have with Jamie Oliver is that he is A) a foreigner B) trying to tell people how to live their lives. Who, after all, is he to come to America and start cooking up healthy food for your children? What nerve he has to help out a family that wants his help and desperately needs it?

Who is he to come into your livingroom and tell you you've been neglecting your children's health?


He is, I suspect, a parent, a food lover, and a person who wants to help show others how they can make changes that could save their lives. But change seems hard and scary. It's not convenient and it requires your energy, your time, and your thoughts.

It's easier to just say 'go away, it's none of your business.'

Well, it seems to me that when kids start making videos about the plight of their own health, it's time for the nation to speak up. After all, we protect children from all other sorts of atrocities that they cannot protect themselves from. Why should we let the profiteers of agribusiness (amongst others) get away with marketing products to children that have no nutritional value whatsoever? Why should we let lobbyists dictate the policies and subsidies that make this junkfood so cheap and available that, by comparison, healthy food seems expensive? Why should we let vending machines and fast food outlets into our universities and high schools? Why should we let governments cut physical education classes and home economics?

Like Matthew says, it is a complex issue and one that requires all of us, every single one of us that eats food, to pay attention and take action.

And now I must sleep.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

A post with video! Fantastic!

In the video I found it intersting to hear that it costs more to eat healthy food. It's something I keep hearing but have a hard time believing. I certainly agree with the comment it takes time to make healthy food but with a bit of planning, it can be done, and still think it can be done inexpensively.

-TC

Shannon Courtney - writer, foodie, eater, cook, thinker, idealistic realist. said...

Well, the price of healthy food depends on several factors, but the fact is that it's not an level playing field with regards to junkfood, much of which is subsidized . Schools even have a list of foods they can order from the Department of Defense (b/c, that's who is in charge of feeding the nation's schoolchildren) that is free - lots of junk there. By an large, calorie for calorie, it's chaeper to buy a bag of chips than an apple I suspect..

The expensive vs. inexpensive debate is a really frustrating one for me, because it's like comparing apples and oranges (pun intended!). You don't see all the externalities to the environment and society (altho poor health is clearly one that people are waking up to), so it seems cheaper. People need to just get over this idea that the food that allows them to live should be cheap; that we are entitled to cheap food prepared by farmers that can't make a decent living and migrant farm laborers who work in pretty poor conditions. We choose to be blind to all the ill effects of our bad, but cheap, food choices...except it's kind of hard to ignore obese children.

Shannon Courtney - writer, foodie, eater, cook, thinker, idealistic realist. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
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