Friday, December 17, 2010

Government does need to fight is getting too big

It is no secret that Americans are becoming heavier with each passing generation. A week rarely goes by that we don’t read about health problems associated with obesity.

Government officials and celebrities have jumped on the bandwagon of trying to get Americans to diet and change their eating habits.

First Lady Michelle Obama has been very outspoken about child obesity and the dangers inherent to our kids from poor eating habits.

Groups who are well-meaning, in their own warped way, have targeted fast-food giants such as McDonalds, claiming that Happy Meals are designed to target kids, luring them with toys, to eat meals that are not good for them.

There is no doubt that our kids don’t eat right. The problem is, like so many other things, too many people think that the answer to every problem is to pass a law banning the offending, (to some), product or action.

First, this is another case of our government interfering with something that should be a simple parental responsibility. We need less government interference and intervention, not more. Are parents not capable of using the word “no” to their children? Apparently, parents in California are most guilty of this as they are the ones crying most loudly for their state to ban Happy Meals.

Enticing children to purchase food by adding a toy is not a new marketing idea. I admit to being lured to various breakfast cereals due to the prize at the bottom of the box rather than the taste of the contents. How many of you, at least those closer to my age, did not purchase at least one box of Cracker Jack to get the prize? Remember the jingle, “Candy-coated popcorn, peanuts and a prize, that’s what you get with Cracker Jack.”

What is the difference between then and now? My mom and dad were not afraid to tell us “no.” I doubt that they enjoyed it. We did get the occasional treat. That was usually one-half a bottle of Pepsi Cola following a Little League baseball game or during family time in front of the television on Saturday or Sunday night.
Too many of today’s parents seem almost incapable of telling their children that they cannot have something.

Another, and probably the single biggest, reason for enlarging waistlines in America is lack of exercise. A suggestion for our First Lady might be that if she is looking to get to the heart of the problem of childhood obesity, look to re-instate the President’s Physical Fitness Award program begun by President John F. Kennedy.

Kennedy recognized in the early ‘60s that children need to be physically fit. He created the program to encourage and reward fitness.

Look at the obvious. Far fewer Americans have, or want, physically demanding jobs in this 21st Century. Our children spend most, if not all, of their free time in front of a computer or television. I can’t remember the last time I found a pickup baseball or basketball game going on in a neighborhood around our area. 

The bottom line is that the only way we are going to reduce obesity, childhood or adult, is to get off our rear ends and get some exercise.
As parents and grandparents, we need to lead by example. This may not be a fun endeavor in the beginning but it can be done. It must be done.

Eating right is part of the equation, as well. No doubt, most of us could do better in that department. Our active lifestyles beg for late-night fast-food meals and snacks. I know. I am one of the most frequent offenders.

Right or wrong, though, I do not need any government body legislating my eating habits. It is none of the government’s business if I want French fries at 1 a.m. It is also not the government’s business if I want to purchase a Happy Meal for any of my grandchildren. And finally, it is not the government’s business if McDonalds wants to include a nearly useless toy trinket with the Happy Meal. 

Once again, this is America. We have become the land of blaming everyone but ourselves for our problems. This is one more classic example. We and our kids are becoming fat. The obvious solution to the problem is also very American. We sit in front of the computer searching for reasons why this could possibly happen to us while munching on a bag of chips and drinking a soda.

This is the time to make resolutions for the coming year. I think that one for all of us should be to see that we spend more time outdoors and engaged in some type of physical activity. Include the kids or grandkids. We will all benefit.

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