There’s a childhood obesity epidemic. And, the planet isn’t flat. Big news, right? I’m afraid our conscience has already been seared to the point we just accept it as our fate. We can’t make our kids get off Facebook and go play, can we? We can’t keep them from grabbing a burger on the way home from school, can we? We can’t yell out a warning to keep our toddler from running into the road ... oh, what’s that? We can? We should? Because ... their lives depends on it?
It has taken little more than a decade to see chronic health conditions in our children double. It is estimated that 75 percent of our health care costs are directly attributable to obesity. Kids are the front line of cultural shift and when a generation moves, it’s a tidal wave that changes the landscape of history. Ask the baby boomers, ask the Beatles, ask the content producers of the Disney Channel. Our kids collectively are a ship that will not be stopped, but we are the rudder that can change its course.
Dr. Jeanne Van Cleave of MassGeneral Hospital for Children, commented on a six-year study revealing that 26.6 percent of our children are now “victims” of chronic health conditions.
“The child health system needs to do a better job preventing childhood chronic illness. The possibilities for such changes are substantial, as are the implications for not acting.”
Pardon a slight editorial inquisition: who exactly is the front line for the “child health system”? Let me give you a hint. It isn’t your doctor, your shaman, the surgeon general, WebMD, or House, MD. Bingo — it’s you. Your kids are waiting for you to stand up and show them the way to a better life — a healthier life! Are you content to keep holding them out like a canary in a cage just waiting to see if they survive this cultural nightmare? They won’t! You may or may not think far enough ahead to worry about the future of the human race, but how about your own children? When they’re 40 years old, are they going to say, “Mom, Dad, why didn’t you push me a little harder, educate me a little more, warn me that I was causing lifelong, irreversible health damage?” There isn’t much oxygen left in the mine shaft; It’s a dead end, and you need to lead them out. Love your kids that much.
Evansville resident Joe Klemczewski is co-author of “The Diet Docs’ Guide to Permanent Weight Loss: Secrets to Metabolic Transformation,” from Harvest House Publishers.
By Joe Klemczewski
Scripps Interactive Newspapers Group