There was a time that the name “Fatso” singled out one child in a classroom; however, that time has faded.
Down through history “motherkind” has wanted her children to be pleasingly plump with chunky little cheeks. Well, at this point in earth’s history she’s finally gotten her wish. Although in some parts of the world there is dire poverty, 10% of the children in the world are either overweight or obese. In the United States, 32% of the children are overweight or obese. Let me repeat that, for it bears a repeat:
Ten percent of the children in the world are overweight or obese. (Bessesen DH (June 2008). “Update on Obesity”. J. Clin. Endocrinol. Metab) Thirty-seven percent of the children in the U.S. are obese. (Neighmond, Patti, NPR, “U.S. Childhood Obesity Rates Level Off,” Morning Edition, May 28, 2008)
Revenge of a Technological Society –
Our kids these days are the recipients of a technological era in which they are doubly cursed.
*Curse #1- Work- For the most part, they don’t have chores like children in years past.
*Curse #2- Play- Child play is sedentary in nature in this day and time.
Curse #1- Work-
In the agrarian society of the past, girls spun wool, washed dishes, fed animals, pitched hay, and cooked from scratch (that means they plowed the fields, planted the garden, weeded the garden, harvested the produce, canned it, and prepared it for the table). They washed mounds of dishes and mountains of laundry because families were much larger then.
Boys fed animals, pitched hay, plowed the fields, planted the garden, weeded the garden, harvested the produce, hunted, fished, butchered the livestock, herded, roped, and branded the cattle.
In our era, even the chores that exist are much easier to do than in the past. Compare how chores were done 100 years ago with chores today:
Then – Now
Hand wash dishes – Dishwasher
Wash clothes with washboard – Washing machine
Dry clothes on line – Clothes dryer
Make ice cream in churn – Baskin Robbins
Curse #2- Play-
Pieter Brueghel’s painting “Young Folk at Play” reflects a time period in life when child play was more active. Even 50 years ago children played ‘kick the can’, baseball, football, etc. much more than they do today. Our children’s games today are found on their computer, on their Game Boy, their iPod, their cell phone, etc. Needless to say, kids don’t burn up a lot of calories playing games of this nature. This is one of the many reasons that children’s Body Mass Indexes (BMIs) are on the rise in our present era.
So, What Can We Do?
First- We’re not going to change technology. It’s here to stay and it’s only going to make things more simplistic.
Second- We can encourage more active play amongst our children.
Third- Phys Ed. (alias Physical Education, alias P.E.) seems to have become a thing of the past here in the U.S. In the 1960’s, P.E. was systematically taught in the U.S. from grade four upward. These days, even when this class is taught, it seems to be crowded into a minute segment of time.
Physical education needs to be encouraged in school, to counteract the “at risk” trend our nation’s children are facing. The main thing is for kids to become active doing something. Because of this there have been recent trends of teaching kids bowling, frisbee, hiking, even just walking. These are activities the individual can do for years to come, even if they don’t have others join them. But there needs to be much more Phys Ed than there now is.
It is undoubtedly a wise decision to encourage physical education in schools because it not only helps the children and youth of today, it also maintains a healthier adult society in the future. In addition to this, a skinnier society is a richer society. The health risks associated with being overweight and obese not only put us and our loved ones’ health at risk, but our economy as well. According to the Surgeon General, in the year 2000 obesity in the U.S. cost the taxpayers $117 billion.