Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The Truth May Hurt, But Obesity Can Kill

I am usually not one to look for controversy.  I generally avoid conflict and keep the peace.  However, when I encounter situations that I know for a fact are wrong or are causing serious harm, I will stand up for what I believe in.  This passion for making things right is what led me to quit my job last year and start my quest of getting people healthy.  So far I feel I have made a big difference in the lives I have touched.  I have seen people reduce and even eliminate medications, go from morbid obesity to normal weight range, find their confidence, and reclaim their lives.  However, there are still so many people that are in dire need of getting healthy and reclaiming their lives.  And, in some cases of young children, they simply need to claim their lives since they are obese before they even begin grade school. 

Typical school-provided lunch
Last week I saw a story on a local news channel about a local school district providing free lunches over the summer.  The story stated that this particular school district had a large percentage of their children on free or reduced-cost lunches.  Since they did not want their students to go without a breakfast or lunch during the summer, they were going to provide a so-called “healthy” alternative for kids who were part of the free-lunch program.  I am not sure if it was the school district or the news channel that labeled these lunches as healthy.  However, during the time the story ran, they showed video of children eating school lunches of strawberry milk, deep-fried chicken bites with ketchup, and French fries.  They then showed a woman who said she thought it was great because if these kids were left without the school-provided lunch, they would likely choose chips and a soda.  It astonishes me that anyone could think that the school lunch described above would be a healthy alternative to chips and soda.  First of all, the flavored milk has as much sugar as a Mountain Dew, the chicken and French fries are deep-fried in oil, and the ketchup is mostly high fructose corn syrup (HFCS, basically man-made cheap sugar).  I think providing free lunches to students living in poverty is fantastic and this program is well-intended.  However, obesity among low-income neighborhoods is even greater and school lunches should not exacerbate the problem.   

Typical school-provided breakfast
The National School Lunch Program is a federally funded program to feed school children breakfast and lunch.  I’m not well-versed in politics, but I do know that government subsidies for corn growers have made the cost of HFCS so low that it is an easy way to decrease the costs of food production, thereby lowering the cost incurred by the government for school lunches.  The restrictions, guidelines, and limitations on the nutrition of these school breakfasts and lunches are murky at best.  Meals have limits on fat and saturated fat, but no limits on the amount of sugar (or HFCS) a child can consume during each meal. Most nutritionists recommend no more than about 12 grams (about 3 teaspoons) of added sugar per day for children.  However, the majority of American children far exceed that recommended limit.  And, upon analysis of meals served in schools, it’s no wonder.  For example, a popular breakfast of Frosted Flakes soaked in chocolate milk with a pastry and a carton of orange juice contains 51 grams of added sugar.  That’s over four times the amount of sugar a child should have in an entire day, and he hasn’t even started class yet! 

We can change their future starting today
I don’t know immediately how to solve this critical situation.  I honestly don’t think that the answer lies in any one solution.  It will take a revolution among parents, kids, schools, and public & private organizations.  But, I do know that we are currently killing our kids.  Obesity can limit the quality of life our youngsters could have, and even worse, it can shorten their lifespan.  This truth may hurt to hear, but allowing our kids to be obese can kill them.  I know I can’t change the school system, I can’t reach every child (locally or nationally), and I can’t cut through the bureaucratic red tape…at least not right now.  But I am going to do my best.  I am starting this summer with a mini-camp for kids called Camp Champ for Kiddos.  See the June flyer at  I encourage you to register your kids and tell everyone you know about it.  From there I plan to begin Camp Champ for Families to encourage kids & parents to get active and eat healthier.  And I am always available to work with individuals and families who want to lose weight or simply live healthier.  Go to to see all the ways I can help you and those you love.  When I first started this blog, I ended my very first entry with a quotation from Edward Everett Hale, "I am only one, but I am one.  I cannot do everything, but I can do something.  And I will not let what I cannot do interfere with what I can do."  I asked you then to join me as I try to make a change for the better, one person at a time.  Together we can get healthy, and in the process we will add depth and breadth to our lives. 

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