By Mike Sullivan, Therapist
Have you heard? The McRib is back at McDonalds!!!! Well if you hadn’t heard it yet,
you have now.
Fast food chains are extremely effective in marketing to the populous, especially
youth. In fact, I didn’t learn of the re-emergence of the McRib from television
or radio, I learned of it from a teenage boy in a wilderness program. While it is
common for teens to drool over their favorite foods while in wilderness, it is scary
when the foods they dream of are very low in nutritional value, high in fat and
processed up the wazoo. I commonly hear teenagers in wilderness talking about
Taco Bell, McDonalds, and Jack in the Box. American youth are the targets of huge
marketing efforts to maximize business profits, creating a health epidemic that our
social systems and hospitals are failing to mend.
I read an article in the newspaper yesterday that focused on a dilemma that
one family and community in particular is facing right now. An 8 year old boy
weighing in at 216 pounds is being taken from his family by social services and
placed in foster care. Social services have been working with the parents of the boy to implement healthy eating and exercise routines that curb weight gain. The family has not been in compliance and in effect has been neglecting their son. After 20 months social services have deemed the parents as unfit. Stories typically portray neglect pertaining to malnourishing kids through starving them, however, neglecting to set limits and teach children about health seem like neglect too right? Is it up to parents to help kids make responsible choices surrounding nutrition and lifestyle? Government growth charts indicate that 8 year old boys weigh an average of 60 pounds. 1/3 of American youth are over weight. Obviously we have a problem.
As adults, we have a responsibility to ourselves, our families, and our communities.
We must work together to educate our youths of the value of eating healthy and
exercising. We must model this behavior by practicing healthy decision making,
even if it inconveniences us. Yes, there is absolutely an argument for moderation, as we all like to indulge in things that aren’t always healthy for our bodies. But it is just that – moderation – that allows us to find a balance in our lifestyles that allow us to stay healthy throughout life.
Our hospital beds are full of heart disease and diabetes, stemming from poor eating habits and limited exercise. There is a nasty cycle here where we are poisoning our youth and then straining our resources to clean up the mess. Why not treat the issue at the root – educate your family and friends.