Monday, May 02, 2011

a big fat problem

if you live in an affluent area and generally read healthy living blogs for entertainment, i am going to hazard a guess that you may not understand just how bad the obesity epidemic has gotten in our country.

[although if you've taken a recent trip to disney world, you may have gotten a wake-up call. it's not such a 'small' world after all!]

over the course of this conference, there have been a lot of interesting talks geared at the pediatric endocrinologist: we had a great lecture on craniopharyngioma resections given by a famous neurosurgeon, and i loved the update on sexual differentiation disorders [they have fascinated me ever since reading middlesex!]. however, the #1 topic?

from a ad campaign

how fat we all are [and not even just in the US!], and how bad it is. ironically, this talk is being held in the only state with an obesity rate of <20%:

the famous cdc map -- although this shows adults, not kids

there is plenty of research on the physiological effects of obesity, and more and more on what causes it [the trendiest lately seems to be focusing on the intrauterine environment].

are the newborns of diabetic/obese mothers doomed to be plus-size from the start?

just . . . woah!

[interestingly, scrawny babies with intrauterine growth restriction have the same risk!]

the flip side
i am glad there is a lot of research delving into the questions of why this is happening and and what the effects are. however, i would love to see more of a focus on how we are going to fix this! there are glimmers of hope -- michelle obama's campaign is likely to raise a lot of awareness, at least.

but even if all of this is caused by epigenetics and susceptibility genes and factors largely beyond our control, there is the undeniable truth that lifestyle and environment are essential components to this problem. i wish that somehow, more money could be diverted to these elements -- rather than just paying for the incredible health care costs of lifelong morbid obesity down the line . . .

we have to get kids AWAY from TV/video games, and headed outside to play [requirements: safe streets + playgrounds and a person to supervise them]

we have to subsidize school lunches that are not obeso-genic

we have to get into the communities and teach convenient ways to eat healthfully -- and there has to be healthy food available for purchase at an affordable cost

perhaps a little bit controversial
so how is this even possible in our languishing economy? personally, i believe that in addition to encouraging healthier lifestyles, we have to make it HARDER to live the unhealthy route. i actually think a sugar/junk food tax is a great idea, provided that there are healthy/affordable alternatives available. and how about a tax on video games/cable? the $ earned could go towards creating safer areas for kids to play outside in urban areas. why not?!

i also think that those who put the time and effort into working towards or maintaining a healthy weight should be rewarded with lower insurance premiums. i do not want to make things unfair for the obese population, but i do think that some responsibility needs to be taken on a personal level.

what can i do?
well, i have to admit all of this has motivated me to be a bit more active in the community on this issue! i was working on a volunteer project aimed at bringing education into local grocery stores, but things had sort of been stagnant for a while. i plan on picking this back up, and thinking of more ways i can help.

what are your thoughts on the issue? do you agree that a junk food tax would be a good thing, or do you think it goes against personal freedom to choose an unhealthy lifestyle if that is what someone wants? [however, if someone does make that choice, you had better be happy to help cover the bills for that person's future diabetes care or motorized scooter! just saying.]

in other news
i'm headed back to NC tomorrow! i have had fun and learned a lot, but i will be SO HAPPY to be home :)

edited to add: i really hope this post does not come off as righteous or preachy -- i just feel strongly that this is a problem that deserves our government's attention and energy, as well as my own! also, i am in no way trying to insult anyone who is overweight or to say that there is an easy fix -- on the contrary, i think it really needs to be MADE easier by changing some of the above lifestyle conditions. and if someone can show they are working towards health, i do not think they should be taxed in any way.



workout: rest day! much needed.