Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Anti-Obesity Ads, gone to far???

I came across a childhood obesity campaign that definitely is creating a little controversy.  You can check out the news related story here.  I find this a very compelling topic because of my profession and because I used to be a FFB (former fat boy).  If you didn't know already, I am a personal trainer/strength coach in the morning and afternoon, and I spend my days teaching 6th grade PE at a local middle school.

I have also experienced  being "obese" first hand.  When I was around 20 years old I weighed over 260lbs. and my body fat was over 30%.  I had high blood pressure and lower back pain.  Instead of sobbing and shedding tears down my chubby cheeks I took a dose of "Man the Hell UP" and I did something about it!  I am more than willing to share my personal experience and promote a healthier lifestyle to just about anyone that will listen.  It wasn't society's fault I got fat, it was my own fault, because I didn't put down that box of doughnuts!

I've had several overweight/obese students in my classes and I've worked one-on-one with a large number of obese adults at the gym.  It is a very sensitive issue to talk to a child about being overweight, but some adults will joke around about their weight, almost like being obese is a laughing matter (a well known defense mechanism).  When it comes down to it, the rising cost of health care and the quantities of prescription drugs consumed to offset the ailments of being unhealthy and obese is nothing to laugh about.

When I first thought about these "Anti-Childhood Obesity Ads", I thought to myself, how could a parent let their child become that unhealthy under their direct supervision?  I really felt bad for the kids in the advertisements.  They don't go to the grocery store, they don't buy their  XBOX"s or other gaming devices, and they don't pack their own lunches.  One of the reasons I feel these ads are a good idea is to show parents that they need to be more responsible for the health of their children.

It is pretty disturbing to walk around the cafeteria during lunch time and witness first hand what most children are eating.  I've seen lunches packed by parents, that consist of a hot dog (cold, in tin foil), chips, cookies, and a generic Kool-Aid style drink.  Where are the nutrients?  I hear about kids having skittles for breakfast and drinking a red bull and eating various brands of  sugar-filled candy for energy after school, it is no surprise diabetes is on the rise.

If parents claim that they don't know any better, it seems like BS to me.  Anywhere you look now-a-days you see information pertaining to healthier eating; more fresh fruits & veggies, and  we all know to stay away from high-sugar/trans fat type crap!  Don't we?

Some people tell me that I'm a little too animated when it comes to nutrition.  People close to me love to say "Not everybody can afford to eat organic....blah, blah,blah"   That's not what this is about at all.  Hell, I can't afford to eat organic everything.  Eating healthy is a little more expensive than going to Micky D's and ordering off the dollar menu.  But, those costs need to be factored in to the long term damage of being obese and unhealthy.  According to an ABC News report, obesity carries a 147 billion dollar price tag directly related to medical costs.  And fresh fruit, lean meat, and fresh produce are too expensive???

Activity levels of young people are on the decline as well.  Some of my students never see the light of day on a day off from school.  I have students tell me they can't wait for the weekend so they can sit inside and play XBOX all day long.  I remember when I was around 12-13, the only time I played video games was when I got in trouble and couldn't go outside and play kill the man with the ball with my friends.  Of course, most parents would think that's too violent these days, which is why so many  kids are soft, weak, and overly sensitive.

It really is unfortunate that some of these obese children face bullying and discrimination on a daily basis. Kids will be kids, and pick on each other for just about everything from bad hair cuts to "bo bo" shoes and goofy clothing.  Of course those things can be changed pretty easily, new attire can be purchased with a trip to the mall and hair grows back.  Getting an obese child to be "healthy" can be changed as well.  It might take some hard work, and of course the parents need to be involved and 100% committed for the well being of their child.  Is that too much to ask?  I don't think so.

So, are these "Anti-Obesity Ads" that bad?

Well according to the NAAFA (The National Association to Accept Fat Acceptance), "Billboards depicting fat kids are extraordinarily harmful to the very kids they are supposedly trying to help".  I agree that sometimes the "scare tactics" don't necessarily result in a positive change in behavior, people need to be aware that childhood obesity is a HUGE issue (pardon the pun) and it needs to be addressed by any means necessary.  If feelings get hurt and people feel uncomfortable about these ads, encourage children and adults to start leading a healthier lifestyle, these are all issues that can be controlled with education on proper lifestyle choices.

 Once again, I think these ads are necessary.  Everything worthwhile is going to create a little controversy and whether these ads are pulled or not, at least the issue is loud and clear.  We need to do whatever every we can to encourage a better, healthier lifestyle for America's youth, life is too short to be cut short.

(Honestly, the NAAFA? Excuse me while I go pee my pants from laughing sooo hard!) 

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