If the war against childhood obesity was a race, America would still be at the starting line.
Childhood obesity has tripled in the past 30 years. About one out of every three children or teens is overweight or at risk of being overweight. Because children’s bodies are still developing, the damage to organs triggers medical problems extending throughout their lifetimes, according to a report issued by First Lady Michelle Obama’s Task Force on Childhood Obesity.
Nearly 75 percent of Americans will be overweight or obese by 2019, and that condition will drag down the economy and impoverish the nation. What’s worse is that our nation is growing fatter at the same time it is growing hungrier. Another study by New York’s Food Research and Action Center describes another dilemma — a new definition of hunger that actually describes how families can become obese at the same time they are going hungry.
“The term the scientists used is ‘food-insecure,’” said Erin Baker, founder of a bakery that combines the appeal of baked goodies with nutritional benefits to help fight obesity. “It describes the condition that hits a huge sector of the population. Low-income people tend to seek out cheaper food which in most cases is fast food, the result is a high calorie diet with poor nutritional value — just a lot of empty calories void of fruits, vegetables and grains.
Baker’s own journey started with being 20 pounds overweight and not feeling well most of the time as a result. She regarded food as an afterthought, but soon embarked on her own personal campaign to change her food and feel better. That campaign, combined with her 17 years in the natural food market, has inspired her advocacy of the fight against childhood obesity. She recommends the following steps for people who want to help reverse the trend toward obesity in their families’ lives:
• Fruits, Vegetables, Grains. Providing a diet that includes six to nine servings of fruits, vegetables and grains per day will change your family’s life. It will give them more energy, enable them to exercise more effectively and truly give everyone the fuel they need.
• Preparation. It’s easy to let the fast-paced nature of American life become the tail that wags the dog with regard to you and your family’s nutrition. Each meal should be thought of as sustenance, and you should ask yourself every day, “What is this meal doing for my body and my family’s bodies?”
• Food as Fuel. The cooking show revolution on cable has America’s mouths watering for tasty new dishes, but if you want to actually be healthier, you should also regard your food as the stuff that fuels your body. You wouldn’t try to fuel your car with garbage. It wouldn’t work. Why do you think your body is any different?
“I hear all the time about how people just don’t have time to prepare decent meals anymore, and how they’d never have time for lunch if it wasn’t for the drivethough,” Baker said.
“What we feed ourselves and our families is killing us, killing our kids and one day soon, it might actually serve to cripple our nation. Our families need to eat the right foods to truly satisfy the appetite…this will curb the tendency to eat the junk foods that cause obesity. There is a fine line between being unhealthy and being sick, and we have a whole country just about to cross that line. But in the face of these new studies, we really need to focus and change our habits now and start eating healthier.”