American Obesity: What Can We Do?

The Des Moines Register published an article on obesity in Iowa and the growing problem in the US.  The numbers were staggering: predicting that 54% of Iowans along with 13 states greater than 60%, by 2030.  According to the studies, two of the biggest reasons are due to the ability to purchase cheap, sugary foods in large volumes and low activity levels. The article  also mentioned some of the programs that are being implemented such as healthier school lunches, which are wonderful, but another was outlawing certain sizes of drinks which I would have to say is crazy.  Why must we protect people from themselves? Well, I guess there are other laws in place for this very reason already.  In my opinion, there are two ways that we as parents and community leaders can help fight this epidemic.

Education.  As parents, we need to first educate ourselves on the basic function of the body and how food and the macronutrients contained in food affect the body.  Mothers, when you had your child I presume that most met with a doctor before leaving the hospital.  This doctor talked to you about the basics of caring for your new package and I hope they also went over proper eating habits.  Eat every 3-4 hours or when they seem hungry, then as parents we decide that we need food 3x a day and when we’re bored.  In the same breathe, as we are losing weight, we skip meals and ignore hunger to later over eat on crap that is readily available.  We have to keep ourselves on the same schedule.  I know we all have busy schedules but I also know that through proper planning and discipline, we can create new habits and incorporate balanced meals into our diets.  These are not huge, sit down meals but rather small balanced snacks.  Raising a daughter that is about 2, it is amazing on how quickly they pick up on our habits.  If we display good eating and activity habits it is more than likely they will follow.  In a rough economy, we are all looking to save money and most lose weight and live healthier, correct? Let’s cook.

I run across clients that are looking to lose weight and want help on their nutrition plan.  When I ask them what they like to eat and cook most say, “well I don’t cook”. This is a problem!  Restaurants, especially fast food, rely on you to return day after day for their product.  Scientist, along with marketers, have worked long and hard on figuring out how to make this happen.  For example, the Happy Meal; a wonderful blend of sugar, salt, and fat that has our systems dying for more.  The endorphins and hormones created by the body during digestion of these wonderful foods have created addicts.  We must learn to cook and teach our children how to prepare balanced meals, shop for natural foods, all why showing them the economic and wellness benefits of preparing food.  Growing up on the farm, we always gathered in the kitchen.  It was always a great time to talk about our day and generally spend time as a family.  We can use cooking to strengthen our family bond and improve our health.

We all know that parents that want their child to be the next great star in a sport or on stage but yet we take them to the drive through after practice.  Again time gets us in this predicament, but do you think if we ate proper snacks and educated ourselves on nutrition needs it would be easier for our children to pick up on those habits?  Health is our responsibility, not the governments, community, or some other organization.  Parents, lets help our kids and ourselves by becoming educated in this topic and then being an example to our children so they can lead healthier lives than we have.  This is not on the responsibility of us individually (mother, father or teachers) but rather us as a family.  Spartan and a lot of other programs can help you, but you must understand the truth and make the commitment for life, not right now, to eating right and stay active.

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