Food and Faith is a blog of the Presbyterian Hunger Program.
Have you noticed an increase in obesity in our nation? What about a decrease in physical activity?
The makers of HBO's "Weight of the Nation" sure have and did something about it.
The 4 part documentary is a commentary on our nation's health crisis: obesity. At times is tough to watch and other times its more upbeat with ideas to help change your lifestyle or fight for those who have no voice. Whether you find it alarming or inspiring- or both- there are ways to improve your health and the nation's health.
These are the 7 essentials to a healthy heart and cardiovascular system. Statistics show that only 1% of the entire U.S. population qualify for all 7 of these indicators. 1%. That's it.
Did you know that soda companies make a 90% profit on sodas and other sugary drinks that provide you with 0% of your daily nutritional intake? They are guaranteed to make money while you are guaranteed to gain weight and increase your risk for chronic health issues. I don't know about you but I don't like those odds.
Most of us are unaware of how much exercise it actually takes to burn off the calories of our daily food choices. Popular all American food like burgers and cookies are everywhere in our society but the knowledge of what that food does to your body, and how to mitigate the effects, is lacking. The truth is that fatty and/or sugary foods take more physical exercise to burn off than most people assume.
Dismal statistics like the ones above pepper this movie making it really hard to watch without feeling inspired and fired up to change the system. Let that fire burn! Get mad! Take that anger for injustice and turn it into positive change.
Our current food system values profit more than health. The companies that produce foods high in fat and sugar while low in actual nutrient content have decided that lining their pockets is more important than the health of our nation's youth. Kids today may be the first generation to have a shorter life span than their parents, making them the first generation to die younger... from (here's the kicker)... preventable causes! All of the chronic illness and health issues young people are facing in today's America can be contributed in large to the huge increase of unhealthy food and poverty.
Significant proportions of overweight kids also live near or under the poverty line making the burden twice as heavy. Not only do they have to battle temptation on every block, their family can't afford to buy fruits and veggies. Parts of the documentary were focused on lower income neighborhoods where there are corner stores on just about every block but no parks and public greens spaces. Snack cakes wrapped in plastic and chips are 25 cents each while bananas and apples are over $1. The calorie count and price make the choice easy when you have 75 cents in your pocket. 75 cents goes a lot further and provides more calories in chips and cakes than an apple. Produce isn't affordable and it doesn't provide as many calories to satisfy an empty belly.
The odds are stacked against these kids and families from the very beginning.
Big problem right? Right. But there are ways you, yes you, can help. PARTICIPATE!
Participate in your own health, the health of your family, the health of your community, and the health of the nation at large. Start from the bottom, the most direct source of change, and come up with some personal goals. Cut back on your soda intake, eat a serving of veggies with every meal for a week, or gossip with a friend while out for a walk in the neighborhood.
Buy your produce from a local farmer.
Walk in one of the many fundraiser walks for a cause you support.
Run your first 5k.
Turn a vacant lot into a park for neighborhood kids to play kickball and just be kids.
Once you see how these small changes in your life effect your well-being, bigger changes and broader influence are sure to follow. Change things up, ask your friends to join you, and move this country towards a healthier future!
To watch "Weight of the Nation" (for free) and find out how you can help, please visit: http://theweightofthenation.hbo.com/