I once read a story where Art De Vany was giving a workshop and a hand went up and asked: “How do you get rid of fat?” His response: “Don’t get fat in the first place”. A snarky comment but one that does not seem to be too far off the mark. As research from Yale has shown, once fat cells develop in your body, they do not go away. They may shrink, but they never disappear. They are like the unwanted guests at a dinner party. No matter how hard you try, they are here to stay!
This idea becomes extra-troublesome when you look at childhood obesity. If you are obese at the age of 2, you have a 75% chance of being an obese adult. Fast forward to middle school and that number rises to 87%. If you leave High School obese, you are over 90% likely to stay obese for the entirety of your life. This is scary. To put it simply, obese children become obese adults.
This would not be a problem if we had childhood obesity under control… but we don’t. The rates of adolescent overweight and obesity are soaring at alarming rates (16.3% in 1971 compared to 41.5% in 2018). This leads to a bevy of negative health factors and according to the Harvard School of Public Health, obesity is closely linked or causes heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, asthma, diabetes, sleep apnea, infertility, and as many as 11 types of cancers. In addition to the physical health problems, there are also a variety of social and emotional effects of obesity including discrimination, lower wages, lower quality of life and a likely susceptibility to depression. I don’t think this list can get any worse!
So how do we fix all this? Well, I think it starts with us grown ups. Mahatma Ghandi once said that, “If you want to change the world, start with yourself”. If you are a parent, coach, teacher, aunt, uncle, or play a role in any child's life, you have the ability to show them the way. Just as a child learns how to communicate without fully understanding proper grammar, so too can they learn how to live their lives in regards to health and wellness without understanding it. There is the old saying, “more is caught than taught”. What we do everyday plants the seed for what our children deem to be acceptable behavior. It is not our words, it is our actions!
A few steps to bring forth what is within you…
As I close this out, I often think about what was written in the Gospel of Thomas: “If you bring forth what is within you, what you bring forth will save you. If you do not bring forth what is within you, what you do not bring forth will destroy you.” I believe that we all have the ability to make improvements to our daily routines and lives. If we do this, it may very well save us from disease and other ailments. If we do not tap into this ability to improve, it may destroy us. We cannot let that happen!
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