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More flap over "Childhood Obesity"

Posted Tuesday, June 19, 2012, at 10:40 AM

Unintended Consequences

As I turn on my television this morning, I see that we're once again being subjected to an onslaught of information about the epidemic of childhood obesity in our nation. "Does your child's weight affect his/her math scores?"

Don't get me wrong, I'm as concerned as anyone about the fact that Americans are getting "fatter and fatter"! My point is---What did we expect???

If you drag out your family scrapbook and look through the photos from your youth, do you see fat people? In particular, do you see fat children? Probably not, unless you're under the age of about twenty-five.

If you travel to Europe, will you see fat people? I've been there twice, and the only heavy people I saw were in my own group of Americans.

When I was a kid back in the fifties, we saw very few "fat" kids. Look at the old black and white TV shows--"I Love Lucy," "Leave it to Beaver," "The Mary Tyler Moore Show." By today's standards, those women were anemic! The only "plump" character I remember was Andy Griffith's Aunt Bea.

How did this happen?

The fast food chains can take much of the responsibility with their "Supersize it!" motto, but there are other factors at play, and we all know it.

What happened to high school physical education classes? When I was in high school, we all had to take the classes. We grumbled about it, but we had to run, to jump, to learn to play games like softball or soccer or badminton.

"PE" went the way of the dinosaurs, didn't it? Did you notice that it was gone? Were you one of the people who considered it a "waste of time"? Were you pleased when your school district could save money by eliminating a PE teacher's salary? Were you delighted when your school could use that "foolish PE time" to focus more on the State-required MAP test? Oh, yeah, all those tests are really doing our kids a lot of good, aren't they??

I'm well aware that a lack of PE in the schools isn't the only culprit in our current epidemic of over-weight youngsters. How many of these kids have been allowed to plop themselves in front of the television for more than the recommended limit of three hours a day? How many of them actually have TV sets in their bedrooms? How many are given video games for their birthday? How many parents actually know how many hours their children spend in sedentary activities?

Hard questions! But the answers provide insight into the problems our nation faces in the future.

I really don't like to think about a government program to dictate how much food we eat or how much time we spend exercising. Surely, we can do that ourselves.

As much as I would like to mount a movement to get PE classes back into our schools, I'm realistic enough to know that government rules and lack of funding simply won't allow the addition of more physical activity in the classroom.

It's a sad state of affairs in a country that prides itself in being the greatest nation on the earth.

From the rugged hills of Tillman, MO., this is your rural journalist, Madeline, just trying to keep from drying up into dust and blowing away...

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My son's wife recently made an interesting observation, as they traveled from Minnesota to Florida. She asked why there were so many more fat people in the south than there were in the north.

I don't know if that observation is accurate, but I have a funny feeling that it is, and I'm not sure why.

Well-educated people are usually slimmer, for some reason--probably because they don't fall for the Fast Food hype that "Bigger is Better!" Maybe because they're more active. Maybe because they can afford to travel and do interesting things.

Whatever the reason, our nation is in a heap of trouble!

-- Posted by goat lady on Tue, Jun 19, 2012, at 10:57 AM

I fondly remember the days of 'recess'. At least a 15 minute break in the morning and then the afternoon. The boys could chase the girls around the building or in Mary Ellen's case she would chase the boys. We could play wolf over the river, hopscotch I was never good at that being a fella, tag, you.re .it', oh my, we had plenty of exercise and looked forward to those times.

Never had a big mac until I was 50 years old. We worked our fat off (kids wont understand this) and never had a chance to pig out.


-- Posted by Dexterite1 on Wed, Jun 20, 2012, at 5:23 AM

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Madeline DeJournett
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Madeline (Giles) DeJournett is the Advance writer for the North Stoddard Countian. A retired high school English/history teacher, she spent 32 years teaching in 5 schools in Missouri and Alaska. These days, she lives quietly with a menagerie of wild and domestic animals on 52 secluded acres in the remote Tillman hills south of Advance. She graduated from Dexter High School in 1960 and Southeast Missouri State in 1964. She can be contacted at advancensc@sbcglobal.net.
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