All the Media Exposure Doesn’t Have an Impact in Stopping the Obesity Crisis: Why?

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There seems to be a constant stream of reports on television, radio, newspapers and the web about the obesity crisis in America. If there has been so much exposure to this deadly problem, why hasn’t this crisis turned around?Here are some statistics to mull over: According to ObesityinAmerica.org, “In 1991, only four of 45 states participating in the CDC’s Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System had obesity prevalence rates of 15 to 19 percent and none had obesity prevalence rates greater than 20 percent. By the year 2000, all of the 50 states had obesity prevalence rates of 15 percent or greater, with 35 of the 50 states having obesity prevalence rates as high as 20 percent or greater.”

The prevalence of obese individuals in the U.S. increased to 20.9 percent in 2001, a 5.6 percent increase in one year and a 74 percent increase since 1991.
Time Magazine states, “Fully two-thirds of U.S. adults are officially overweight, and about half of those have graduated to full-blown obesity. The rates for African Americans and Latinos are even higher.”

What are the reasons the obesity crisis has not lessened in America? Despite the increase in media coverage, the following still occurs:

  • Families, in their fast-paced life style, still eat inordinate amounts of fast foods that are high in the wrong fats, calories and sugars.
  • Children spend more time in front of televisions, computers or other electronics and therefore live almost total sedentary lifestyles.
  • Public Schools have cut back on Physical Education. Therefore the opportunity to move one’s body at school has markedly decreased.
  • Children do not spontaneously play outside. If they do play sports, it is only in an organized, regimented fashion.
  • Poverty is a major factor here. Many low-income neighborhoods do not have grocery stores nearby that sell fresh fruit and vegetables.
  • While the benefits of exercise are well known, parents are reluctant to take the time and energy to begin an exercise program and therefore modeling a sedentary lifestyle for their children.
  • People don’t walk anywhere anymore. Children are driven everywhere by their parents. There are some communities that have hardly any sidewalks!

What can we do about this issue? What is being done about this problem?

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2 Responses to All the Media Exposure Doesn’t Have an Impact in Stopping the Obesity Crisis: Why?

  1. I want to remark on the item about schools cutting back on physical education. I believe that causes problems beyond the obesity rate. A few years ago, after many years of working as a fitness trainer for adults, I took a part-time job with a nonprofit organization that brings “sports” into the schools. Increasing kids’ level of physical activity, in the broadest sense of the term, was one of the goals of the program, but it was by no means the main one.

    I was disappointed by our “extensive” training program, which emphasized how to use physical activity to promote adult social engineering goals. For example, an entire 2-hour session was devoted to how to respond when children used the “n-word” on the playground. The issue of how to prevent kids from playing games involving scores and “competition” was raised many times. Not one, single cursory training was done on the scienctific basics of motor development.

    My mini-rebellions: 1) involving myself as lightly as possible in kids’ own pickup games rather than teaching the various “lessons in cooperation” provided in the curriculum, and 2) introducing some old-fashioned structured sports drills that my education tells me help with physical (and brain) development.

    After this experienced I came to understand something I’d noticed before but that had baffled me: I had seen many young people (early 20s) who came through school in recent years who move like little kids in large, unwieldy, flabby bodies. Deprived of both free, organic play and skilled physical education, they don’t have an adult level of motor control. This cannot be good. As a “Title IX girl” with multiple varsity letters in high school, it seems like a sad reversal to have occurred in less than one generation.

  2. Michele Casari says:

    In my work as a developmental therapist, I routinely include the “old fashioned” games of hopskotch, jumprope, jacks, marbles, walking on stilts in my work with kids. These are so novel to them that they repeatedly ask and look forward to them in sessions. These games do have an element of competition to them but it been a motivational element and you can do in very small groups of 2-3 or even 1 if realy motivated to practice and refine a skill – particularly the jacks and marbles. These would go a long way in improving handwriting skills although that will probably be seen as unnecessary one day, if not already.