Read that and take a breath. That’s a lot of kids, with a lot of health problems. After reading the original article from Aljazeera, I was struck by two points. The proposed way to address this concern is though physical activity and dietary guidelines.
Wait, what?? We continue to talk about physical activity and these dietary guidelines, but that well worn path doesn’t seem to be making any headway. With reports of schools cutting recess and physical education classes and after school sports to meet standardized test standards, with kids going outside to play less and less; telling them to simple get more exercise is ridiculous. Adults work more to earn less in the United States and they are exhausted . Simply telling parents to make more time in their day for to tell their kids to exercise, also ridiculous. Don’t get me started on the kids who can’t go outside for safety reasons. If you live in a neighborhood where playing outside could get you shot, then why would you even consider doing that? There is an issue of privilege wrapped up in that recommendation and if you aren’t aware of it, it’s time to become aware.
When it comes to diet, those overworked parents and kids look to foods that are quick, cheap, and make them feel not just full, but good-for a moment anyway. Convenience foods are full of low quality ingredients, and sugar. There is research that shows if you eat the same amount of calories in now vs. 30 years ago, you will be more overweight.
“A given person, in 2006, eating the same amount of calories, taking in the same quantities of macronutrients like protein and fat, and exercising the same amount as a person of the same age did in 1988 would have a BMI that was about 2.3 points higher. In other words, people today are about 10 percent heavier than people were in the 1980s, even if they follow the exact same diet and exercise plans.”
It’s not just the physical effort, it’s the actual food. It’s less nutritious. Let that sink in. Unless you are privileged enough to grow your own food biodynamically you have to eat more food to the get the same nutrients people did in the late 1980’s. That’s not very long ago in the scheme of time, think how that will change again in the next 30 years.
People are fat AND they’re hungry. It’s no wonder the diet and supplement industry is booming. From keto to vegan, everyone is searching not just to maintain their weight, but to feel healthy and take control of their lives. Those 250 million kids are being set up to continue the trend toward unhealthy views of food, not to mention having unhealthy bodies. The medical costs of 250 million people with chronic health issues from lack of proper nutrition is unfathomable to us. As we look down the road of how to feed 8.5 billion people with the current trajectory of climate change, food scarcity will increase and the food that is available to feed the bellies of most of those people will be increasing nutrient poor. Meaning people have to consume more calories to be less healthy.
I don’t want to leave you with a sense of total defeat though. Pushing for healthier choices for kids does help. Stay away from sugar and simple carbohydrates (I know, I know, I keep preaching), eat lots of leafy greens, choose organic, grass-fed and pasture raised animal products if you can. Stay away from processed foods. Period, full stop. Kids who eat whole foods do have a better chance of being healthy, we can certainly all agree that do everything you can to promote healthy eating in your community and beyond, is the best chance we’ve got.
Here’s a little something that gives me hope, it’s not new, but it sure is wonderful, https://www.ted.com/talks/ron_finley_a_guerilla_gardener_in_south_central_la?language=en