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Positive Relationships to Food
Our society as a whole is becoming increasingly susceptible to obesity. Studies support that there has been a dramatic increase in the percentage of overweight children and adults in the last 20 years. With an increasing overweight population, there is an increasing acceptance of this disease that helps to contribute to the leading cause of death in America; heart disease. (CDC, 2009)
In America the leading causes of heart attack are hypertension, elevated cholesterol, diabetes, and exposure to tobacco products. The first three coincide frequently with obesity, putting the obese population at the greatest risk for heart failure. (CDC, 2009) Statistics are also showing that obesity is becoming increasingly rampant among children. With increased availability of fast food restaurant chains and an ever growing population of latchkey kids with access to high tech video games we are creating an environment where childhood obesity is not only possible, but increasingly more likely.
Many adults in this country may have been conditioned into obesity. If raised by a preceding generation with poor eating habits and a lack of basic health education, one may be more likely to grow up and fall into the category of obese. Childhood obesity is becoming increasingly more prevalent. Between 1976 and 1980 The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) was conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) which determined that 6.5% of children between the ages of 6-11 were filed in the category of obese. The same study was conducted by NHANES from 2003-2006 to determine that the same age group had increased its obese population to 17%. Of these overweight childhood populations, 80% will become obese adults by age 25. (CDC, 2009) Can you imagine what the statistics will look like if we continue to same trends over the course of the next thirty years?
Fortunately issues such as this are getting more media attention as of late. First Lady Michelle Obama has taken on a mission to tackle childhood obesity in attempts to solve it within one generation. The current CDC statistics show that 32% of children ages 2-19 are considered to be overweight or obese. With the increasing prevalence of overweight children newer generations are for the first time failing to outlive the preceding generation by as much as two years. Her plan is to take advantage of her position as First Lady to help educate the nation on the dangers associated with growing up obese. Her approach is to relate to working mothers who may not have the time and energy to cook healthy meals for their children and encourage them to take a new approach. She has also assembled a campaign that would donate 25 million to revamp school kitchens to toss out the deep fryers and make them more produce friendly. (Brandon, 2010)
If obesity continues to increase at its current rate within the United States, the medical costs are predicted to rise from the current cost of 147 billion dollars (Hall, 2010) to 344 billion dollars per year by 2018. This means within eight years we have the potential to tip the scales to a 50% obesity rate if the current situation goes ignored. (Hellmich, 2009)
Obesity is not a disease that will disappear overnight. Because it is a preventable disease there is a lot of room for improvement. A possible solution is to begin with our nation’s children since the statistics overwhelmingly show that overweight children have an increased rate of becoming an obese adult. If we can increase health education in our public school systems we can hopefully create a good foundation in our children that establishes what it means to grow into a healthy adult. These healthy adults can then pass on good eating and exercise habits to future generations in hopes of eliminating our nation’s most preventable diseases.
Reference:Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website. Updated December 2009. Retrieved February 14, 2010.
Reference:Hall, Mimi and Nancy Hellmich. “’Let’s move’ on child obesity” USA Today. Published February 9, 2010.
Reference:Hellmich, Nanci. “Rising obesity will cost U.S. healthcare $344 billion a year” USA Today. Published November 17, 2009.
Reference:MedicineNet.com. February 2, 2001. http://www.medterms.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=11760 Retrieved February 14, 2010.
Reference:Schuler, Douglas. 2008. Liberating Voices: A Pattern Language for Communication Revolution.
Verbiage for pattern card:
A child's relationship to food a developed based on the education and underlying messages they receive in both schools and in the home. Adults may unknowingly taint a child's perception of healthy eating by setting up reward systems based around food or by displaying the use of food to control emotions. The outcome of these behaviors is a society that is riddled with obesity.
As a society we need to acknowledge that these unfavorable relationships with food exist. A good first step would be to increase health education that stresses the importance of a balanced diet coupled with regular exercise. Starting health education early in life will help condition our youth into healthy behaviors that will hopefully alleviate a future filled with great expenses and lives lost to preventable diseases.