The Times West Virginian

March 17, 2013

How do we win battle against childhood obesity?


Times West Virginian

— In 2010, one out of every three children was overweight or obese.

It’s a startling figure released by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But even more startling is that the number has tripled since 1980. Tripled.

Collectively, we are not doing our kids any favors. Portions are huge. And even when portions are the appropriate size, they’re not packaged that way. Think a bottle of soda has 120 calories? Read a little closer. That’s 120 calories per serving, and a 20-ounce bottle of soda is two servings, not one. But that’s in the fine print.

Same goes with candy bars, pints of ice cream, bags of chips.

And our latch-key kids — if anyone even uses that phrase anymore — come home from school, turn on the television or the latest greatest game console and zone out for hours on end. Why play a rousing match of tennis when you could “virtually” play tennis. And since we as parents are spending 50 to 60 hours a week commuting and working, it’s not our responsibility, is it?

No, they should be eating healthier at school! So then they change the menu to meet USDA guidelines for caloric intake, portions and nutrition. And now our poor kids won’t eat hot lunches. They throw away more food than they eat! This is outrageous! Now we as parents have to pack 20-ounce bottles of soda, candy bars and bags of chips, paying no attention to the labels. Hey look, it’s a 100-calorie snack! That’s healthy, right?

Garbage in, garbage out, right?

How can we even expect our kids to function on the kind of crap they serve at fast-food restaurants and pre-packaged goodies we buy when little ones start tugging on our shirt at the grocery store.

Who needs an apple when you could buy a tube of applesauce?

And physical activity ... hmm. By the time you get home from commuting and work, there’s no daylight left on a weekday to get the kids outside. Weekends are packed with errands and trips. So hand them the hand-held gaming device, the miniature one that keeps them sedated at home, and off we go.

I don’t know about your kids, but I know my kids have a semester of phys ed. Per year. That’s it, other than recess, which is completely reliant on the weather and, ahem, the behavior of our children.

Maybe they’re just going into withdrawals from sugar, caffeine and their video games during the school hours. Better let them chug an energy drink before they get on the bus.

What are doing? Everything they do as children creates a path for them to follow into adulthood. In 30 years, America has managed to produce three times as many overweight children. What will happen in the next 30?

More and more of the same unless we take the battle against childhood obesity seriously. Last week on our online poll question, we asked our readers to respond to what they thought would be the best place to make changes that would change our children’s health for the better. On www.timeswv.com, our readers logged on to vote on this question: “Where do you think the most important changes need to be made in the battle against childhood obesity?”

And here’s what you had to say.

Teams — Promote and require physical after-school activities for all children — 2.5 percent

School — Kids need to be active every single day and eat healthier food. 3.75 percent

Mindset — Parents are the ones to convince about healthier habits, foods and lifestyles — 33.75 percent

Home — Lock up the video games and turn off the TV — 60 percent

That’s a winner if I ever saw one.

This week, let’s talk about a proposed bill in the Legislature that would give more leeway to the “stand your ground” laws in West Virginia. That means that self defense would be extended to protecting someone else who was being attacked and owners would be able to use “deadly force” to protect their home and property from burglars.

What are you thoughts?

Log on. Vote. Email me.

Misty Poe

Managing Editor

mpoe@timeswv.com

@MistyPoeTWV