Childhood obesity is one of the great battles facing our country right now. We hear about it all the time, and as parents we try to model good behavior and teach healthy lifestyles so our children aren’t affected by it. But the statistics still have us a little nervous: The obesity rate for children has more than doubled in the past 30 years.
Children these days have a shorter life expectancy than their parents.
Children these days are at greater risk for Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, cancer, joint problems, etc.
Children these days are more likely to have sleep problems and poor self-esteem because of their weight.
Is it because of sugar? Processed food? We don’t get them out to play enough? They don’t sleep enough? There are many theories and thoughts for why this is and how we got this way. And lots of ideas for how to fix it.
Lots of ideas. Some better than others. Some more feasible than others. And some so crazy . . . well, maybe they are so crazy they just might work?
Stephen Dubner, one of the co-authors of the book Freakonomics recently held a discussion with some of the leading experts in the field of nutrition, public health, and other interested parties to brainstorm ideas for how to fight childhood obesity in America. No idea was off limits; they were to think out loud and discuss possibilities.
Some of the ideas these experts came up with were based on familiar tacks to curb unwanted behavior: banning advertising to children, restricting unhealthy foods to the back of the grocery store, eliminating tax deductions for companies that market to kids.
But others were really “outside the box” ideas: bracelets that keep track of how many calories you are consuming and change color as you get out of a healthy range. Or a parasite that would flush out unwanted calories and nutrients. Or . . . brace yourself . . . a baby jar filled with vomit that you could smell whenever you thought you were hungry.
Like I said: crazy. But then, so is the fact that so many of our children are so unhealthy. And so is the cost that this problem has had and will continue to have on our society.
I don’t think we’ve reached the point of desperation that would lead many people to voluntarily consume a parasite, nor do I think we should go there. Instead, let’s use these crazy ideas to motivate ourselves toward better behavior and healthier choices: next time you’re tempted to let your kid sit in front of the tv with a bag of potato chips, imagine a bracelet around his wrist, beeping and getting redder and redder . . . then toss him his running shoes and go for a jog around the block.