In the time it takes for you to read this, 3 people will have died in this country from an obesity-related disease.
822 people die of obesity-related diseases every year. That’s one person every two minutes. And that number is only going to go higher. Because this will be the first generation of American children who will have a shorter life than their parents. The CDC estimates that this current generation of children will live five years less than the parents who raised them. How can this be? We theoretically live in a time that should offer them the best standard of living and the best health, but our modern way of life is killing them. Processed foods, no exercise, neighborhoods of McMansions in sprawling subdivisions that keep kids apart, the constant gnawing fear that if we let kids outside for a minute to play on their own they will be preyed upon, days lived in front of the TV, all of these contribute to the problem. Rates of diabetes, heart disease, and obesity have been on the rise, from less than 5% of kids in the 70s to more than 15% of children in 2008. This is the biggest health disaster in our lifetime. And it is one we’ve brought upon ourselves.
Things must change. Now. We’ve made the disease, now it’s the time to make the cure.
Change must be made at home, where parents have to put more emphasis on eating better, eating as a family, and getting more exercise. Parents need to be made more aware of how the example they set, and the things they bring in the house with them influence their children. But changes must also be made in schools. 180 days of the year, children spend at least 8 hours at school. And yet schools are cutting back on gym classes and trying to save money by buying cheaper unhealthy processed foods.
The time to act is now. And I’m going to start with the schools. I can’t tell people how to live in their own homes. I can’t and won’t mandate the need for better habits at home. But, I can demand changes at the schools. So I am:
1. Start serving real food in the schools now! There is no reason why, in this State, never mind this country, we have to favor processed food made in a factory and shipped long distances, over the plethora of foods farmers grow every single day. That’s why I’m going to be pushing to have real food served in the cafeterias of schools across the State. Real food, made fresh, and when possible, grown locally in PA. There are over 55,000 farms in this State alone, and we are one of the biggest agricultural exporters in the United States. It’s time to fill our schools with the fruit, the vegetables, the milk, the eggs, and the meat grown all around us.
2. Gym class every day! There is also no reason why physical activity has to be limited. Physical activity should be increased. Kids should get at least 30 minutes of physical activity every day. That’s why I’m asking all schools in Pennsylvania to have a daily gym class. Schools that have implemented gym every day have seen an improvement in children’s attention spans, performance in school, and a reduction in aggressive behavior.
That’s it. Real food in schools, and gym every day. Two small changes will change the world. And I need your help.
If you want to help, if you agree, email me, and let me know. Leave a comment at the bottom. The more we work together, the quicker we can get the changes we want. That I want. That you should want, for all the children in your town, in this State, in this Country.
This is my mission.
This is why I’m here.