Plan for Attack

My goodness, if I could eat a Big Mac with extra large fries everyday, plus a jumbo double chocolate shake on the side, a 7-inch sugary apple pie, and a Coke to gulp it all down, I would! And I’m sure I could be a great couch potato too, sitting around day in, day out, spending more time on my butt than on my feet. Better yet, I could be the most popular kid at school. The most popular kid in a group called, “The Fat Losers,” that is. Yes. I can finally be a part of this hot trend. I can join my fellow one in three American friends who are overweight or obese, and have high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and even type 2 diabetes (which I thought were diseases only commonly found in adults, but I guess nowadays, they’re another steaming fad among kids). But hey, don’t get me wrong, I mean, I always knew this was a craze in our American culture, but obviously, it has been climbing the popularity ladder – at a super fast rate. Just the other day I read another bold headline sweep across my computer screen: “Childhood Obesity Numbers Soar.” To be blatantly honest, I yawned. It wasn’t a surprise to me at all. Especially with recent studies about childhood experiences, industries’ selfish commercials, and the nation’s shortcomings to effectively come together, who wouldn’t want to join The Fat Losers group?

A fresh research from Dr. Felittle, founder of Kaiser Permanente’s Department of Preventive Medicine and director of its obesity-treatment program revealed staggering connections about a child’s past experiences and eating. An obese patient of his, Ella, admitted that she had faced many tragedies growing up: rape, family problems, and even a forced marriage at age fifteen by her mother. Dr. Felittle finally came to a conclusion: “The psychology is relatively straightforward: being abused or otherwise traumatized is painful, and food can be a numbing or comfortable escape. Being fat is not the problem. [For these kids,] it’s the solution.” As experienced by Ella, a teen’s childhood struggles can significantly shape her appetite. But that’s not the only problem propelling the obesity fad.

With the economy’s drawbacks, it’s no doubt that fast food restaurants and industries are striving to stay alive. Using cheaper ingredients to make the food (or nasty concoctions) while filling up the dollar menu, both the producer and the customer benefit to this method. Wait, both, really? Of course not. No way that a customer who buys five cheeseburgers for a dollar a piece is benefitting; their dollars are merely going to waste for the medical issues later on. And what about the poor children too? In the end, they only grow up as teens adapting to this lifestyle, thinking that hamburgers and fries are part of a daily diet. With McDonald’s happy meal commercials aimed specifically at the young ones, busy hard working parents have no choice but to adhere to their children’s requests in order to silence their whining and move on to the next errand. As Kate Carnell stated in her article, “Truth on Childhood Obesity,” “It is not that our kids are eating too much, it’s just that they are not eating the right food.” They are not only eating the wrong food, but also growing up with this mistaken normal lifestyle. An article suggested that perhaps taxing junk food would be a good idea. But is that really realistic? The article stated that although there were some people losing weight in Denmark – the first country to actually implement such a tax – the weight gain ceased to exist in adults. That’s saying something. Key word: Adults.

Pointing fingers and playing the blame game seems like the easiest go to solution, but it is only adding to the obesity problem. In two contrasting articles, both authors either rallied to the side of the government, or criticized it for its deficiency. Paul Krugman asserts his point in “Free to Choose.” He states, “Above all, we need to put aside our anti-government prejudices and realize that the history of government interventions on behalf of public heath, from the construction of sewer systems to the campaign against smoking, is one of consistent, life-enhancing success.” But in “Corn, Obesity, Subsides,” Patrick Basham states that President Obama’s support of the Healthy, Hunger Free Kids Act, which promotes corn and thus, high-fructose corn syrup – deemed as “liquid Satan” by anti-obesity campaigners – is not setting a very good example on the obesity issue. While both these authors make strong points, they’re ultimately wasting their time. Yes, citizens are not always going to agree with the government’s decisions, and yes, sometimes they will. But when teens have adapted to their childhood lifestyles and “One in four young adults cannot enlist to serve his or her country because he or she is too overweight,” smirking at one another’s opinions is not going to solve anything.

What we need to do, as Carnell says, is “come together in solid partnerships between parents, the community, industry, and government.” We need to educate. We need to campaign. We need to make this horrific obesity epidemic known and stop The Fat Losers group from growing. The government has to fund a few campaigns against obesity, just as they have done with smoking and drunk driving. But of course, as kids, being brain washed the same information over and over again won’t stop them from trying a cigarette or drinking some beer before heading home. This leads us back to our key word: Adults. Only parents have the most influence on their children. Take Michelle Obama, for instance, appearing on Disney Channel to compare a single sized serving of pasta to a supersized pasta plate. It’s about the exposure to our kids, reinforcement, and setting the example. Adult lifestyles directly affect the daily lives of our future generation today. Coming together will not cost us anything. In fact, it will only bring us closer to curing this epidemic. We can start at home, with the adults.





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