I recently watched Super Size Me. I know - the movie came out about four years ago, but in case you missed last week’s Shootin’ the Wit, I’m a little behind times. Please excuse my tardiness.
For those who haven’t yet seen it, this documentary by Morgan Spurlock demonstrates the physical and psychological effect fast food has on a person’s body.
Spurlock set a few goals for himself: every meal he ate for 30 days straight had to be from the fast food restaurant, and he had to eat three meals a day. He had to try every item on the menu at least once, and he couldn’t consume anything that the restaurant did not sell. He also required himself to “super size” his meal every time he was asked. After 30 days, Spurlock had porked on 25 pounds - a 13% body mass increase - and his BMI rose from 23.2 (healthy) to 27 (overweight). It took him over a year to lose the weight he gained in one month.
The film portrays the fast food industry’s influence on people today and tells of alarming statistics on obesity. In case you haven’t taken a look around lately, obesity rates are getting… akhem… ”bigger”.
Soon after viewing the film, I read the latest news about children as young as eight years old being given cholesterol-fighting drugs to avoid future heart problems.
EIGHT? Whoa! Really?
Why aren’t we teaching these kids to put down the Pepsi before picking up the Lipitor?
I distinctly remember my father pulling me aside when I was about eight years old and telling me I “wasn’t like my siblings,” who were all very thin and fit. He told me to picture a kid at school who was “a little bigger” and asked if I wanted to turn out like them. “No,” I replied, absolutely humiliated and even more terrified. He encouraged me to stop eating three bowls of ice cream and a pound of taffy every day.
He also urged me to pick a few sports to participate in, which I was more than happy to do. He scolded me on the rare occasion that I would be found flopped on the couch like a dead fish watching television, and I knew better than to be playing Nintendo around the time he came home from work. Nearly every weekend during the winter (unless we had some type of sacred plans), our entire family was out cutting, splitting, and hauling wood through three feet of snow. All day! Sitting at home was not an option. You might say I was whipped into shape.
Harsh? Yes. Helpful? YES! While Dad’s “warning” stung a little, and as much as I wanted to be lazy, I’m extremely thankful now.
So why aren’t more parents doing this? Instead, parents literally sit back, relax, and watch as their children follow in their own unhealthy footsteps. They grow bigger around the belly together, eat healthy proportions of the wrong kind of foods together, avoid exercise together, and therefore show signs of serious health problems.
Children’s doctors recommend children get at least an hour of physical activity a day - which doesn’t include finger movement required to play a computer game or sweeping the potato chip crumbs off their lap.
It’s not exactly easy to make healthy decisions. Look at your typical fast food menu - salads are $5-$6, and a double cheeseburger is a buck. The average cost per month for a gym membership is approximately $40, depending on your age and/or status. Sadly, we live in a society where healthy decisions actually cost you!
On the contrary, the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Minnesota’s “do” campaign gives the perfect illustration for what we should be… well, doing! You don’t have to spend $40 a month to run on your gym’s treadmill… take the stairs! Work in your garden. Canoe. Walk. Bike. Do. Something. Now! And not just today. Every day!
It’s about time pharmaceutical companies take a break and let Americans pick up their own slack. We need to make major adjustments in our lifestyles to reverse this “fattening” trend we’ve begun to set. We’ve allowed obesity to become so common that airlines have acknowledged and discussed what they can do about their ‘wider’ customers. Charge more? Make bigger seats?
As they said in Super Size Me, you’re okay to tell someone they’re foolish for smoking, because everyone knows it’s not healthy. Yet it’s not (yet) okay to approach and criticize someone for being overweight, even though they’re causing just as much strain on their body. You could start the trend, but watch yourself! If you’re picking on them for their weight, I’m guessing they’re bigger than you.
Shootin’ the Wit is a weekly column about everyday life that should never, ever be taken too seriously.