Happy New Year! Eating healthy is one of the top New Year’s resolutions for 2017. The start of a new year is a great time for conversations with your family about what’s most important in life, with healthy choices at the top of many people’s lists. After all, what’s more important in life than your health and the health of the ones you love?
In addition to making a personal commitment to living a healthy life, it’s also a great time to consider all the multi-layered spheres of influence that may serve to support or undermine even the best of intentions. It’s important for everyone, and especially parents, to be champions for family health, which includes increasing exposure to positive messages that support your health initiatives to steering clear of negative ones that jeopardize progress.
There is a steep hill for us to climb in 2017, given a barrage of discouraging news we received in 2016 about the state of our own and our children’s health:
• Obesity is not improving
• Mortality rate decreased for first time in a decade
• Kids are watching more unhealthy food ads than ever
Let’s take a deeper dive into each of the 3 top health stories of 2016 to see what’s really going on:
OBESITY NOT IMPROVING
When it comes to kids, obesity rates average 17%. In kids 2-11 years of age, obesity rates are declining. That’s the good news. However, obesity rates continue to increase in kids 12-19 years of age. In fact, 1 in 4 kids age 17 to 24 are now too overweight to join the U.S. military. Being overweight or obese is now the leading medical reason why young adults cannot enlist.
Sadly, the trends do not improve with age. Adult obesity now averages 38%. The CDC now predicts that 1 in 3 adults could have diabetes by 2050. If this prediction comes true, with over 240 million adults in the U.S. today, we would have 80 Million adults with diabetes by 2050. Since diabetes cuts 10 years off a person’s average mortality, this prediction would result in 800 Million lost years of life. That’s 800 Million PREVENTABLE lost years of life.
MORTALITY RATE DECREASING
The death rate in the U.S. rose last year for the first time in more than a decade. This surprised most medical experts as death rates have been declining for years due to improvements in health, technology, and medicine. Experts say it is quite rare to see death rates increase on a national scale, especially as many European countries are experiencing declines in mortality rate, so the gap between the U.S. and other countries is growing. If this trend continues, the New York Times stated in June 2016 that it could be a “signal of distress in the health of the nation.”
KIDS WATCHING MORE UNHEALTHY FOOD ADS
Pediatric Obesity published a study in December 2016 showing that although time spent watching TV did not increase, children and adolescents now view more TV food and beverage ads. This increase happened because food companies are spending more money marketing to kids than ever before, resulting in increases of as much as 30%. Food companies spend billions of dollars each year marketing sweet cereals, soda, and fast foods to the most impressionable of viewers – our children.
So we have a question for you….whose job is it to ensure kids eat healthy, anyway?
• Is it the child who decides what, when, where, and how to feed their growing bodies?
• Is it parents who allow certain foods to come into their home or choose the restaurants for their family’s meals?
• Is it schools, where kids eat 1/3 or more of their daily calories, that are responsible for ensuring at least those calories are nutritious ones?
• Is it the food industry, who knowingly laces processed foods with enough sugar, salt, and fat that a “cravability factor” is triggered, making it difficult to stop craving certain foods?
• Is it our government, who subsidizes certain crops at the expense of health?
• Is it the community at large….the above constituents and more, who need to come together collaboratively to drive a massive health turnaround in our nation.
Ask your child whose job it is that kids eat healthy. You may be surprised at their response! Better yet, capture the moment on video and upload it to your Facebook page and tag WT Café (@WholesomeTummies), we would love to hear what your kids have to say about eating healthy!
May the gift of health, happiness, and peace be yours this 2017.