The nation’s concern about obesity has begun to increase. According to a recent Los Angeles Times article by Melissa Healy, more than 12.5 million American kids and 78 million adults are obese.
The number of obese children in the U.S. is thus larger than the overall population of European countries such as the Czech Republic (10 million people) and Austria (8 million people). The federal government has recognized this issue and as a consequence, the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, inspired by Michelle Obama, was introduced. It remains a question if this plan to reduce obesity will be effective in the long run.
Some might think people will be satisfied with the government’s attempt to improve the quality of life in the U.S. However, the opposite is often the reality. Many high school students revolt because they aren’t happy with current food options, “Flavored milk…I don’t understand why we can’t have that,” 17 year old, Paige Lame, told the Daily Mail.
Most surprisingly, even staff members seem to disagree with the healthy meals plan. In Kansas, a high school teacher made a video called “We Are Hungry,” portraying the “difficulties” students face as a consequence of being pushed to eat more fruits and vegetables.
The U.S. is facing serious problems. It’s worrisome how kids aren’t used to eating fruits and vegetables on a daily basis. It seems as if parents don’t encourage them to do so at home. This might be because the popular perception that fast-food meals are cheaper than preparing meals at home. Parents working long hours might not feel like cooking after coming home. Therefore, they order food from a fast-food restaurant for dinner. As a consequence, the children develop eating habits around consuming lots of sweet and processed foods.
“Collectively, the studies leave little doubt that a steady surge in the consumption of soda and other sugar-sweetened drinks has contributed to the near-tripling of the nation’s obesity rate over the last four decades,” Healy said.
I was caught off guard reading this quote. It is the year 2012 and statistics indicate a great number of people are obese. I would think everyone had recognized by now sugary drinks are extremely unhealthy. When I was a kid, my parents didn’t want me to drink Coca Cola or other sweetened drinks. In fact, it would only be for special occasions, such as birthdays when they would allow my sister and I to drink a bottle of Coca Cola or Sprite. I do drink soda occasionally now, but I realize my parents did well by establishing healthy habits in my early childhood.
The main argument in many schools is that athletes need a lot of energy for their practices and games. However, they fail to discuss the inactive student population. According to the Daily Mail athletes burn approximately 5,000 calories per day, so an 850-calorie lunch isn’t much. In contrast, people who don’t do sports on a regular basis should consume much smaller amounts of calories per day. Maura Shenker illustrates this point in an article on livestrong.com, saying, “A sedentary woman weighing 130 lbs. should consume just over 1,400 calories each day to maintain her current weight. If she increases her activity level, she may need to add an additional 100 to 150 calories each day.”
There are several nutritional goals the government should strive for. First, adults need to be convinced of the advantages of eating healthy. Once this mission is successful, kids will also start eating healthier. Adults shouldn’t support high calorie-lunches at school cafeterias. Second, I realize fast-food chains add to the country’s economy. However, their extensive presence is more harmful than helpful to the U.S. Third, meal portions should be twice as small. The amount of food a person eats in the U.S is usually twice as large as what Europeans normally eat. Additionally, people should realize drinks labeled “light” aren’t necessarily better than the regular options. People shouldn’t go to McDonald’s thinking ordering a Diet Coke with their McChicken will save the day. This overall mindset needs to change completely. The population will not become healthier until this happens.