It’s a myth that Americans are obsessed with losing weight, according to Benjamin Radford. He says that “if Americans were truly committed to getting fit and losing weight, they would eat less and exercise more”. Sounds familiar, doesn’t it? In fact the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported in 2004 that two thirds of Americans are overweight, while only one third of Americans get regular exercise.
This underscores Radford’s point, that American’s really aren’t interested in losing weight. In his article Fat and Happy: Why Most People Don’t Diet, he cites a 2002 Glamour magazine survey of over 11,000 readers who were asked what they would be willing to give up to lose weight permanently. The findings: 75% would not give up eating dessert, 41% would not pay $3000 to be permanently thin, and 25% would not give up anything to lose weight.
What’s concerning is how this attitude is affecting the rise in childhood obesity. Results from the 2009 California Health Interview Survey showed that children will eat what their parents eat. Surprised? More specifically:
- Teens are 40% more likely to drink soda every day if their parents do the same.
- Teens are 16% more likely to eat 5 servings of fruits and vegetables if their parents do the same.
- 48% of the teens who have parents that drink soda daily also eat fast food at least once a day. Of the teens whose parents did not drink soda daily, only 39% of them ate fast food daily.
- 45% of the teens whose parents did not eat 5 servings of fruits and vegetables ate fast food daily. Only 39% of the teens whose parents eat 5 servings of fruits and vegetables reported eating fast food daily.
This year, the CDC reported that 37% of children (age 2 – 19) are over weight and 16% of them are obese which puts them at a higher risk for health issues like type-2 diabetes, high cholesterol and high blood pressure. What’s more alarming is that 50% of those children became overweight before reaching the age of 2 and 90% by age 5!
The lead researcher in this study, Dr. John Harrington says, “this study indicates that we may need to discuss inappropriate weight gain early in infancy to affect meaningful changes in the current trend of obesity”.
But it seems that it’s just too painful for adults to do that, for themselves and for their children.
Results from a study published in this month’s issue of Clinical Pediatrics, show that 71% of parents have a false perception of their child’s weight. Of the 150 children aged 2 – 5 years participating in the study, about 1/3 of them were overweight or obese, yet 85% of all of the parents reported their child as being “about the right weight” to a written question. Researchers also used drawings of various body sizes and asked parents to identify the body size that most closely matched their child. 20% of the parents with overweight or obese children actually chose the drawing representing a body that was below healthy body weight!
Who are we fooling here folks? It’s time to get brutally honest with ourselves about our relationship to food and our avoidance of exercise. We keep looking for the cause of our overweight condition around us, instead of looking into the mirror to avoid the pain of the current reality. But facing that reality is the first step to making new choices in the moment. Not only do we owe it to ourselves, we owe it to our children to recognize the outcome of our food and exercise choices.
The good news is, you can begin making new choices right now – once the pain of staying overweight begins to outweigh your fear of the pain of exercising and changing your choice of foods.