Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Obesity Rates Continue to Climb in U.S.

Yet another report on obesity came out this week and it looks like we will be fighting this uphill battle with obesity for many years to come. I'm starting to feel that we are seeing only the tip of the iceberg in regard to this issue. The report that I mentioned looked at how the obesity rates are climbing on a state by state basis. We now have a state (Mississippi), that for the first time ever, has more than 30 percent of it's population reported to be overweight. At the opposite end of the spectrum is Colorado which is considered the fittest state. But even the fittest state witnessed a rise in their numbers over the course of a year from 16 percent to 17.6 percent.

The report went on to say that "not one single state was able to report a fall in obesity rates for 2006 – and twenty two states experienced a second consecutive year increase. In a new public opinion survey, 85 percent of US adults believe obesity has now become an epidemic."

We know that it is not just one issue that is causing this epidemic in both young and old. It is an issue that is fueled by everything from working parents, fast food, financial issues, education, lack of exercise and too much TV to name a few.
As far as I'm concerned, one of the things we need to start is a grassroots effort focused on bringing back "play time" for children and adults as well and this needs to happen at home, in the schools and at work. I'm fortunate enough to work at a company, Koko Fitness, that understands this and some of us had a great workout this afternoon!
Children, from what I'm starting to see, have a new best friend - the gadget - (i.e. computers, X-Box, play station, instant messaging, cells phones, etc.). As our children continue to increase the amount of time spent using these gadgets then they obviously loose time for outdoor activities. If you add cutbacks in physical education classes to the mix, then the future could end up looking somewhat bleak. I know, for example, that my daughter has only one physical education class a week at her school and that another school in the area just cutback the number of weekly hours for their physical education program. The cumulative effect of all this begins to add up and the emerging numbers tell the story - teenage obesity rates have more than tripled from 5 to 17 percent since the late 1980's.
As a parent, I look at my 12-year old daughter who is very active but when she is not playing a structured sport, like basketball, then the play time that I mentioned seems to be minimal. She ends up reading (a good thing) or will choose to watch a movie, spend time on her laptop, cell phone etc. (a bad thing if the hours build up over the course of a week). Many of the kids today have actually forgotten how to play on a regular basis - especially if it's not a structured activity.

There is talk about extending the length of the school day - I say great - but let's extend physical education class and make it a daily occurrence or have that "play time" on a daily basis while at school.

1 comment:

Brooklyn said...

Thats really true. Our kids really don't know how to play. And it's a shame for us. I think we need to educate our kids on health and fitness. Or just rush them to a nice gym.