Thursday, July 11, 2013

Misplaced Blame in the Obesity Game

It's incredibly shocking to know that 90% of Americans recently surveyed think that schools have a responsibility to fight childhood obesity, but only a slim 19% believe that it is a personal issue. Where is the sense of personal responsibility? Could it be that overworked, guilt-ridden parents would prefer to pass on their responsibility to schools when it comes to their children's health? So much easier to blame the cafeteria lunch of pogos and fries rather than admit that you don't like brocolli anymore than your kid does.

It may be that not everyone has the common sense health knowledge that they should have, such as eat your veggies and fruits, drink water, exercise, try to get a decent amount of sleep every night. And even those who know the basic rules are not so good at applying them. Fair enough. But to think that it isn't a personal issue to deal with obesity is just plain stupid.

Of all the things that you can control in your life, what you consume is about as close to 100% as you can get. Sure, make the arguments that food companies are evil, food is not as good as it used to be, farming is going out of business in favour of products, produce is too costly- but take the blame for the choices that you make. In North America, there is an abundance of fresh food- fruits, veggies, fish, lean meat, eggs, meat alternatives, bread, etc. Generally we get water out of a tap and don't have to walk a few miles a day with a bucket on our head. So let's drop the excuses, because we have the choices.

Education starts at home. No matter how much parents rally for gym classes, play parks at recess, sports, better quality lunches and ban soda machines, it is still what they are taught at home which is the most important life lesson. Children generally become the adults that they grew up with, which means that if you are setting a bad example as an adult, namely, eating bad food and not exercising, they are likely to do the same.

Obesity is very much a personal issue. If you do not take personal responsibility for your own health, you will never become a healthy person. You will never shake yourself of the excuses or the obstacles, and you will be your own worst enemy when it comes to positive change. It is what every athlete and personal trainer will tell you: they cannot MAKE you do anything. The food industry is not force feeding you. The treadmill is not making itself inaccessible. YOU have to be the change. YOU have to make the choice. And you are 100% liable for the choices you make when it comes to what you put in your mouth.

Obesity is quickly becoming a public health issue as well, with the overwhelming costs of healthcare due to issues directly related to obesity. But it is first and foremost a personal issue and if we're looking for the source of the problems associated to our body weight, all we need to do is look in the mirror.

You don't have to follow a supermodel diet or run a few miles to make things better for your health. Just make better choices and stop shifting the blame. Be a better example for your kids and the people around you. You may not be able to fight climate change, bring justice to the world, make policy in a foreign country, but you absolutely 100% can make better choices for yourself and your body and the trickle down effects into other aspects of your life will be incredible.

It really is that simple.

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