Much is being made these days of the need for children to put down the tablets, remotes and other tech devices and get outside and play. Medical experts and media pundits are keying on health issues, such as childhood obesity and diabetes, as the key driver for increased play. And they are correct; but there are other important reasons: future jobs and economic growth.
There is no easy and straightforward way to surrender our collective obsession with fat. But here are some of the strategies that point the way. Regulation, used properly, has a role in such efforts. First, the prejudice against fat people needs to end. We need to accept individuals of many shape and sizes; judging them by their qualifications and not their weight.
One Toronto school recently has banned the holy trinity of confections: candy, chocolate and pop. From a child's perspective, it can feel like snack-shaming. It almost seems as though the principal is leading a group of lithe bullies, chastising the embarrassed student for unknowingly smuggling a contraband item.
Kids have started getting excited about the bounty of candy they'll be getting and their parents are getting anxious. There is so much focus being put on the issue of obesity recently that we have become terrified of every calorie and fat gram we consume and are unfortunately, passing this fear on to our kids.
The First Lady of the U.S. has provided a very visible rallying point in that country -- people respond to her sheer force of personality. Children look up to her; they want to eat their vegetables for her. That's not a policy lever, but no one can say it's not effective. Here in Canada we do not have such a figure.
Deb Firth, has operated the school running club for the past 7 years. This year there were 167 members, students from kindergarten to grade 5. Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings at 8.00am they would head out, with parents and teachers in tow, to run 800m. Now all they had to do was cover a final 2km and they would have, in total, covered a marathon distance.
As a parent, I'm less concerned with the food that's available at my children's school than I am with the physical activity that is NOT. If our school boards think they are doing our kids a favour by keeping them tied to their chairs and computers, they are sadly mistaken. All the professional and financial success in the world means nothing if you don't live long enough to enjoy it.
Many different organizations and health experts have purposed various solutions to solve the western world's obesity epidemic. But the underlying problem to the obesity epidemic is the current population's lack of connectivity to the soil, the environment and the food supply. If we can reconnect our current population with the food supply and the community, we will create a healthier and brighter future for generations to come.
While it's become nearly impossible to turn on a TV or read a newspaper without hearing about the obesity epidemic, I believe we are focusing our energy on the wrong problem. Is obesity a serious issue? Yes. But obesity is just one symptom of the real issue which is unhealthy living. By focusing solely on obesity, we are turning a "lifestyle" issue into a "fat" one and are completely missing out on giving people the information they need to be truly healthy. The dangerous part about this is that instead of encouraging people to get healthy we are demanding that they get skinny
The judge has spoken, the ruling has been been made and our right to drink super sized, sugar loaded beverages remains intact. "The rule prohibits selling non-diet soda and some other sugary beverages in containers bigger than 16 ounces." I have no problem with the government wanting to help us get healthier, but I do have an issue with it just wanting to make us skinnier.
The Health Check program is meant to help those going to restaurants and fast food restaurants to make better menu choices. But when you search their product list for Health Check'd vegetables there are zero. Health Check is in need of a makeover. The program needs to promote fresh fruit not fruit juice; it needs to encourage eating at home not at restaurants. Or it needs to cease and desist.
A little over a month ago I was invited to a food industry breakfast to offer my comments on how the food industry might help in improving the health of our society. Unfortunately, just three days prior to the event, I was uninvited without the courtesy of an explanation or an apology. So I decided to record my talk and post it online.
Play is not only an easy, accessible and affordable way to get children more physically active, but it has the potential to improve a child's physical, emotional, social and cognitive well-being. It's not a frill or a waste of time. According to the Active Healthy Kids Canada Report Card, play has been shown to improve and foster motor function, creativity, decision-making, problem solving and the ability to control emotions.