In case some of you did not have a chance to watch HBO’s documentary, the Weight of the Nation, which was done in partnership with the National Institute of Health, Kaiser Permanente and the Michael and Susan Dell Foundation, the good news is that you can watch it online. As an Registerd Dietician and obesity expert – I was not surprised by much of the information that was provided… as a matter of fact, the only thing that was somewhat “new” to me, was the growing problem of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and the increased rate of liver transplants, associated with obesity. This was an excellent attempt at putting the enormity of overweight and obesity into four episodes – and I recommend that everyone view it with their families.
Here were some interesting statistics:
- Less than 5% of adults get the required daily physical activity (one hour)
- Less than 3% of US farmland is planted with fruits and vegetables
- The profit margin for soft drinks is 90%, whereas the profit margin for fruits and vegetables is only 10%
- In the US, 4% of elementary schools, 8% of middle schools and 2% of high schools provide daily physical activity.
- Kids spend 7.5 hours each day consuming technology
- Only 10% of parents seek medical help for their obese children
Some of the biggest take-away messages included – prevention is much easier than treatment (of overweight and obesity), that fad diets do NOT work (okay, I knew that), the single best thing one can do to improve their health is to eliminate sugar-sweetened beverages, and get daily physical activity. It is not enough to lose weight, but keeping it off is a lifelong struggle. Diabetes and heart disease have accelerated in our lifetime due to overweight and obesity – costing us, insurance companies, government, employers, and individuals billions of dollars each year.
We live in beautiful Holmdel, lacking sidewalks in many areas, but plentiful with parks. We have Ondrush Farms right across from the Satz School, where we can purchase locally grown produce (and beef). Another great local farm stand is Samaha’s just off Exit 117A in Aberdeen. The minute these two places open each year, I shop there for my family. It is far better to support locally grown agriculture than to pay higher prices for organic foods grown elsewhere. Dearborn Farms sells locally grown produce as well.
I’d love to see walking school buses in our town (especially for those within a one or two mile radius of the schools); perhaps regular walking groups on the weekends at Cross Farms. Even though there are vending machines in schools – which are not always “turned on” – they still serve as subliminal messages and advertising to our children. It does take a village to raise a child, and we owe it to our children to give them the gift of health. We owe it to ourselves to make healthy living the norm and not an option.