A running joke in our house involves the headless overweight shopper on a busy Manhattan street corner. You know him? Perhaps you’ll recognize him better as the headless overweight beach goer carrying a cooler of coke and cheese puffs. Before the housing crisis took over the nightly news, the waistlines of these headless men and women played a key role on American television screens nearly every night.
Now, the headless and overweight are kids, seriously at risk of developing lifelong health problems and type II diabetes. Time Magazine’s special health issue in June was dedicated almost entirely to the juvenile obesity epidemic, reporting the staggering statistic that the percentage of 6-11 year olds classified as obese has tripled in the last 25 years. This summer, the growing BMI of American kids has piqued the media’s interest. In the New York Times, Tara Parker-Pope writes about how summertime and summer camp leads to long days of (wiffle ball? flashlight tag?) cheese fries and ice cream sundaes. A CNN blog posted tips for parents to help their kids order-up a healthy plate and active lifestyle this summer.
Providing kids with nutrition education and accessibility to fresh fruits and vegetables are the single most important steps in changing the course of this national health crisis. Unfortunately school districts continue to face budget cuts in areas such as physical and health education. Worse, it was announced this week that the cost of school lunches will rise 12% this fall. With such a price increase it seems even the best intentioned districts will struggle to put local fruits and fresh veggies on the menu. What does this mean? Moms and dads, friends and family, coaches and teachers, community leaders and clergy… YOU need to make a difference in the lives of America’s overweight kids.