Problems, mysteries, conflicts, confusion — is that all there is to the childhood obesity discussion? Absolutely not! While there is no silver bullet, what we do have are a lot of good answers that have worked for a lot of people. The amazing thing is that so many food addicts are willing to share their stories. We can learn from them.
We need to get over any expectation of a one-size-fits-all answer. Different people are unhealthily overweight for a number of reasons. Some individuals are morbidly obese for a combination of reasons. Not all solutions work for everybody. Some solutions work for some people, and, if it works for them, it might work for you or me. A motivated person will try at least a few potential solutions, and we should have an array of them to choose from.
Speaking of motivation, let’s hear from a young person quoted in Dr. Pretlow’s presentation, “What’s Really Causing the Childhood Obesity Epidemic? What Kids Say.” In Slide #58, a 17-year-old describes her method of imagining something gross while eating one of her problem foods. What kind of motivation does that take? In Poll #87 of the Weigh2Rock public opinion series, a 15-year-old girl, who independently discovered this kind of DIY aversion therapy, says,
I’ve been able to stop most of the cravings by associating them with horrible foods. For example if I crave pizza I start thinking of pizza with hair from a beauty salon and spit and other nasty things until I picture it and pretend to eat it with the nasty things still there. It really works!
The key just might be: Start anywhere. Maybe some little “tip” that seems ineffectual or even silly could be the turning point. Any sincere change of lifestyle doesn’t even need to show results in order to make a difference. The point is, by choosing one thread from the complicated ball of twine and starting there, the unraveling can begin. Or, to switch metaphors, a baby step can initiate a domino effect. A small success can encourage a person and provide enough positive energy to lead to another experiment.
One can start by following this advice: Drink more water. It’s a simple action, and we might as well give it a try before the water shortage sets in. A company that is now selling bottled “Wat-aah” in many schools speaks of its great sense of mission, namely, to “lead the fight against childhood obesity [hyperlink is ours] by making water the #1 choice for hydration among kids.” In fact, part of the package is a program called Healthy Hydration:
It is a 20-minute long presentation held in schools and aims to teach children about the benefits of drinking water, the importance of understanding beverage ingredients, the dangers of over-consuming drinks laden with sugar, and other relevant topics. The program’s fun visuals and interactive, yet informative approach have captivated not only the students, but school administrators as well.
There are many reasons why drinking plenty of water is good for you, primarily because it doesn’t contain sugar. So far, so good, but… The title of this press release is, “WAT-AAH!, the First Functional Bottled Water Aimed at Kids, is Now Available in Schools Nationwide” — and there is something creepy about that “aimed at” part. Plus, what in the world is “functional” bottled water?
Okay, the people behind “Wat-aah” are well-intentioned and probably helpful to the overall situation. But why do kids at school need to buy water? Where are the drinking fountains? Why not carry a bottle and refill it from the tap? Where is the cafeteria water dispenser? Amazingly, it turns out that in many schools, the students can’t get plain old drinking water!
Whitney Blair Wyckoff recently reported for National Public Radio that in 40% — that’s nearly half — of California schools drinking water is not available to the children! Giving administrators the benefit of the doubt, Wyckoff first theorizes that they just don’t know any better, not being conscious of the importance of good hydration to health. She writes,
Additionally, there seems to be some confusion over whether offering free water conflicts with the National School Lunch Program regulations — or even beverage contracts. For example, if a school district contracts with a beverage provider, among the items that they’re purchasing through this contract could be bottled water. There seems to be concern that if they were to offer free water at the same time they’re purchasing bottled water that this might conflict with their contract.
California has a legislation pending, in an attempt to improve this situation. But where has everybody been up until now? How did it even get to this point? And in how many of the other 49 states is anybody even thinking about this crucial issue?
Your responses and feedback are welcome!