Monday, June 16, 2008

The Sad Reality of Childhood Obesity in America

* Please Note: This post is not intended to be an indictment of any overweight person or child. I am aware that there are many causes of obesity - including those that cannot be controlled or changed. Please read my thoughts with this in mind.

My heart was heavy after reading this Time magazine article: "How America's Children Packed on the Pounds." Here are some statistics from the article to give you a glimpse of the pervasiveness of obesity among children:

"In 1971 only 4% of 6-to-11-year-old kids were obese; by 2004, the figure had leaped to 18.8%. In the same period, the number rose from 6.1% to 17.4% in the 12-to-19-year-old group, and from 5% to 13.9% among kids ages just 2 to 5. And as with adults, that's just obesity. Include all overweight kids, and a whopping 32% of all American children now carry more pounds than they should."
Speaking of the rise of Type II Diabetes, hypertension, and other diseases (normally associated with people over the age of 40) among children, the article states:

"It's hardly a secret how American children have come to this sickly pass. In the era of the 64-oz. soda, the 1,200-calorie burger and the 700-calorie Frappuccino, food companies now produce enough each day for every American to consume a belt-popping 3,800 calories per day, never mind that even an adult needs only 2,350 to survive. Not only are adults and kids alike consuming far more calories than they can possibly use, but they're also doing less and less with them. The transformation of American homes into high-def, Web-enabled, TiVo-equipped entertainment centers means that children who come home after a largely sedentary day at a school desk spend an average of three more sedentary hours in front of some kind of screen. "

The scene described here is a worrisome one - not only because it inevitably leads to poor physical health, but more importantly because it is a recipe for poor spiritual health. Children who grow up learning to satisfy their every desire with food and mindless entertainment grow up to become adults who do the same. They find their comfort from food and lull their hearts to sleep with entertainment. "Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things (Phil. 3:19)."

As Christians, we should be concerned about childhood obesity, but not for all the same reasons that the secular world is concerned about it. We can agree with the author of this article that childhood obesity is a sad epidemic, that it is bad for the economy and future of America, and that something must be done about it; however, we must have a more biblically informed understanding of and solution to the problem. Apart from Christ, people (including children) will turn to other gods - in this case food - for comfort. Families and children need more than health education and "self-esteem" improvement (this is a separate topic for discussion altogether) to overcome obesity. They are sinners who need to be saved from their sin. Only then will they find true comfort and peace - in the Savior.

I am reminded that I once walked in this way too - living according to my flesh and satisfying all its desires. But thanks be to God that He has saved me from my body of death . My life is hidden with Christ in God, and I am no longer enslaved to food or any other thing. Praise the Lord for His salvation!

1 comment:

Dave said...

I guess this means our children won't be having twinkies for breakfast.

Very helpful post, though. One wonders in what manner these seeds of death sewn in tens of thousands of children's lives will be reaped by individuals, families, and society.