As the race for our next President continues, topics of “substantive issues” remain the same topics discussed over the last 40 years. Health insurance, social security, education, budget balancing, military size, etc… continue to be the main topics with leaders claiming to know the best path to accomplishing successful outcomes. The electorate has become disenchanted with our political leaders and is threatening to elect an “outsider” to the highest position in the United States of America frustrated by failed policy and gross incompetency.
For more than 35 years, childhood obesity has been on the rise. As of 2013, 42 million children suffer from the devastation that obesity causes worldwide. Like our political system, our approach to childhood obesity is archaic resulting in recurring failure to reverse and correct this epidemic. It is time for us to turn our backs to our “prestigious” World Health Organization (WHO) that views our obesity epidemic as follows:
“The fundamental cause of obesity and overweight is an energy imbalance between calories consumed and calories expended.”
This underlying explanation removes the entire emotional element associated with food consumption and classifies it as a mathematical problem corrected by changing the number of calories consumed. This simplistic explanation provides clarity for the gross failure of government and its health and regulatory policies. Obesity is an economic, social, physical, emotional and mathematical issue. Until we are willing to recognize this epidemic in this light, we will continue to create failing policies resulting in the devastation of children’s health and well being worldwide.
We must begin by understanding that obesity and the various conditions that manifest from its onset ARE AVOIDABLE. Currently, childhood obesity is treated with exercise and diet. If high cholesterol develops, children are treated with anti-cholesterol medications. If diabetes develops, children are treated with anti-diabetic medications. If reflux develops, children are treated with anti-reflux medications. If we step back and objectively view this approach, one notices that childhood obesity is treated by “plugging holes” that develop over time. As a new condition emerges from the underlying obesity issue, a new medication is prescribed to “contain” the new health malady.
This approach will never successfully address and reverse childhood obesity!
To reverse this epidemic, we must be willing to address socioeconomic issues and psychosocial issues. We must recognize that poverty plays a major role and be willing to create plans based on a community, state and federal level. We must create environments where children are safe and able to participate in healthy activities that nurture the body and the mind. We must help children understand their value and importance to society and encourage them to participate in projects that benefit communities as a whole. This is a grass roots approach that begins the process that reverses childhood obesity. It succeeds because it becomes an all encompassing approach that addresses the various components preventing obesity, rather than “plugging the holes” (high cholesterol, diabetes, gall bladder issues, gastric issues, arterial plaque, high blood pressure) resulting from this avoidable condition once it develops. This paradigm shift is essential to create a new path for our children. Although many of us (understandably) are tired, frustrated, stressed, and possess limited discretionary time, it is our responsibility to provide the best opportunities available to our children. It all starts by recognizing that doctors and school lunch programs are only a small component to the answer. As much as we would prefer to stand on the sidelines, families and communities must begin to participate in this process for real change to occur. Waiting until the 11th hour as our political leaders do will only make solving the problem that much harder. I suggest turning to your HEART and relying on your sense of compassion and kindness to start participating in this process. The love of family and community should spark a flame creating an awakening that our children deserve the opportunity for GOOD HEALTH both physically and mentally. It all starts by each one of us taking a step forward and asking, “how can I help?”