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Corinne Finnie

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Whose responsibility is it to educate our young people on healthy eating, physical activity, and positive self esteem?

Many statistics indicate that the overall North American adult population is not only overweight, but the number of people with Type 2 Diabetes, heart disease, and depression is consistently rising. Now, we see children as young as 12 suffering with the same conditions. The World Health Organization has called this situation an "overnourishment" epidemic. Parents do not have the practical information to teach their children about nutrition, teachers have a full curriculum and limited resources to contribute, food manufacturers are focused on making margins and are willing to go only so far, Community Dieticians have limited time and resources - whose responsibility is it to make educating children about comprehensive wellness a priority?

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    Oct 27 2011: Corinne, thanks for posting this, although it's certainly not an easy question to answer.

    Obviously, parents can't teach what they don't know.

    I think that as we learn more and more about what *not* to do as well as what we need to do, we'd benefit from more community programs and other outreach efforts to provide this information.

    I think we also need to start cracking down on school lunches that provide unhealthy food and drinks, even if they're cheaper to buy and fix. In the long run, such meals end up raising the incidence of obesity and diabetes.
  • Oct 27 2011: It is ultimately the responsibiltiy of the parents. I was raised by my mother alone. She worked constantly to make sure I had what I needed. Lots of good food(fried of course) and love from a parent. Food was food it came and went and exercise was never really mentioned. I was always running around in the neighborhood but still considered a little husky for my age. Now I am 27 and over weight myself and have been over weight all my life. After months of researching weight loss tips, exercise routines, and how food and fat is digested, stored and spent. I have made a plan for myself and finally been able to start losing weight.

    I remember health class in junior high. There was nothing that even comes close to what i learned about how the body actually works with food and how calories work. It seems to me that the school system was more concerned about showing reproductive courses and having a real pigs lung to show how they expanded and contracted. Schools in the US are really suffering from intelligence withdrawal. Teachers are ever more detached from teaching meaningful information bound to a useless curriculum that doesn't let them expand into things they need to teach.

    The ultimate responsibility lands with the parents. What children see at home is the basis for what they do in adulthood. I was able to change my ways through education at my own will. In adulthood you are responsible for your own education and just because you graduated and you think you are finished are going to at a loss for sure. Those who rely on the Government for education, assistance or thinking that the Govenment will always be there when a disaster happens only have themselves to blame for not having initiative. Those who dont have that initiative will probably suffer more for it.

    Stop eating crap you will feel better.
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      Oct 28 2011: Great addition to the conversation!!!! I agree with you completely and appreciate your insight!!
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      Oct 28 2011: So well said Justin, and a great job on your part for taking control of your life:>)
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    Oct 21 2011: It is the job of the parents to do this. Simply put.

    If they are failing at it, then they need to start leading by example, as all parents should.
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      Oct 21 2011: Agree it should be parent first.
      Who else will care more for kids ,if parents don't?
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      Oct 21 2011: I agree completely. Parents need to lead by example, and teach their children wellness tools that will allow them to maintain good health. But, obviously, with the multi-billion dollar weight loss industry and the countless fad diets that bombard our society, adults are 'losing' the battle on wellness. How do they know what to do and who to trust?
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        Oct 22 2011: Understand what you mean by industry impact (weightloss industry is not a barrier. It grew as society as a whole running after thoughtless consumerism & sedentary life style).
        Who shuold fight back ? Will government do ?
        While government's ,main focus is it's political agenda, how it will deliver this extra job?
        Future is everyone's own hand. Internet & communication technology , made information easily accessable then ever before. If parents are self informed , set example for kids, will not be that more powerful to kids than confusing advertisement those industry monsters?

        If not we really have big problem with our credibility to our kids.
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    Nov 9 2011: I think I wrote about 4 or 5 comments on this conversation.

    Why? Well because it is important... and because I think there is much to understand and change.
    I will let other comment not directly following other I did but with its own line.

    Whose responsibility is to educate overweight and obese parents? professors? day care workers? nutritionists? health care providers?
    Whose responsibility is to stop food brain washing literally from birth?
    Whose responsibility was to teach you to eat as if there won't be a next meal in about 3 hours?

    SCIENCE: Over eating and bad eating habits modify your neural chemically system in ways that leads to obsessive compulsive disorders, depression, addiction not in strength wise but in pattern like comparable to drug addictions.

    Obesity is a disease, actually an epidemic disease.
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    Nov 2 2011: Every adult in contact with a child on this planet.
    • Nov 10 2011: yeah but what do you tell em?
  • Oct 26 2011: Everybody

    You cannot raise perfectly under one person's responsibility.
  • Oct 26 2011: It takes a village, does it not, to raise a child? You mention many of the stakeholder groups that should be acting on this in your question. The answers below have perhaps naturally focused on the day-to-day manifestations of the symptoms of the problem: media-driven body image & food giants' bottom lines, but:

    Your question is much broader, I think, than you intend. It's our responsibility - all of us, in everything that we do, to be role models and help the next generation do a better job of moving humanity forward towards a sustainable future than we are doing. Health is part of it, as is stewardship of the environment, reducing global inequalities, pushing the frontiers of science, knowledge and understanding.

    Making this virtuous sentiment a practical reality is the hard part: there are a multitude of starting points outside the formality of the classroom and, if they're lucky, a loving family.
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    Oct 23 2011: Dear people, true information on nutrition will never come from food and health industies or the government. Teach what? The false science of the subsidized chemical grain based agriculture system that monopolizes the food supply? The cholesterol mythology?
    High glycemic carbs, polyunsaturated vegetable oils, high fructose corn syrup, feed lot meat, eggs, pasteurized milk are the problem. Check Weston A Price Foundation and learn how food fraud has become genocide. Heart disease, cancers, diabetes, obesity, brain issues and intelligence appeared with the advent of modern foods, avoidance of sunshine, saturated fats, sedentary living, industrial toxins and the mass anxiety of media.
    The doctor is in,......the kitchen!
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        Oct 25 2011: However, it appears that people who eat nutrient-dense foods list alarmingly to the left.

        ;-)

        (Look at the *photo* in the web site above!)
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      Oct 23 2011: Captain - I like how you think!!! This is the basic truth in wellness. It is not about balancing carbs/proteins fats to illicit a caloric reduction. It isn't about figuring out which food is the latest 'miracle' food. It is about choosing foods wisely - being a saavy consumer and eating whole, living foods. Children already know this but they get bombarded with excellent marketing schematics and poor examples in their own household. They lose the intuitive nature to eat to survive. It truly becomes about satisfying a desire.
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    Oct 22 2011: Corinne thank you for raising this topic. This is a critical issue in North America and needs to be resolved.
    I believe that at the heart of this issue, beyond poor parenting, is poor adult living.
    With changes in our educational system we can better inform our children about the dangers of unhealthy eating and the positive results of physical activity but I think this will have a diluted impact if the parents that are raising the children are themselves poor examples of these value systems.
    I feel the burden of responsibility lies heaviest on the parents. To target the children we would most need to affect change in the adult role models they are influenced by. I do believe a fat tax, and health care reform with emphasis on rehabilitation not financial aid would be viable solutions.
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      Oct 22 2011: Thank you Timothy - the fat tax is a whole other conversation. There are interesting arguments surrounding this topic.

      The World Health Organization has stated that early intervention is necessary to ensure that children will not grow up to be overweight/obese. So, children before the age of 6 need to be of normal weight and engaging in a healthy lifestyle that includes proper nutrition and physical activity to assist in developing as a healthy adult.

      So, let's say a child grows up with parents that (1) did not know how to role model a healthy lifestyle (2) choose not to role model a healthy lifestyle and that child grows up to be an overweight adult. Now that individual has to pay a fat tax with the burden of either scenario above. Will the fat tax alone be a motivating factor to learn, choose, do better?

      On a personal note:
      I have to say; however, when I see an overweight family feeding their toddler french fries, pop, and ice cream - I wonder if they realize the road they are sending their precious child down and I do wish there could be some retribution.
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        Oct 22 2011: Corinne I am somewhat confused by the scenario of the overweight child you present in the third paragraph. The fat tax I was speaking of is that which was imposed by Denmark earlier this month, a tax on saturated fats. Under their new system, a food product which contains 2.3% saturated fat or more will be subject to an additional tax. This would effectively raise the cost of foods at places like the Colonels, Clowns, and Kings. Rising prices at these places could motivate people to go elsewhere. Economists would be better able to evaluate what the compound affect of this might be, but I believe the best way to see what it would do, would be to try it.
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          Oct 22 2011: Ahh - thank you for the clarification!
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      Oct 25 2011: Well said Tim!

      This issue is quickly becoming an issue for India and China too as they migrate up the socio-economic ladder to middle class. Novartis is investing hundred's of millions of dollars in research and production facilities in China in anticipation of a wave of illnesses (e.g. diabetes) associated with over consumption of fat, starch salt, sugar.
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        Oct 26 2011: I have read about this myself. Tragic!
  • Oct 22 2011: Kids... I don't know how many of you know the definition of a parent but not to worry if you don't, society today has erased the meaning of the word and redefined it to mean nothing more then 'a person you received you DNA from'. A parent is responsible for the physical and psychological development of a child, but todays generation is reduced to rely on Social media for development. Everything they know now is a learned behaviour from their surrogate parent, advertising/Hollywood. It is not easy to be a parent and most parents had the same lack of parenting growing up they are currently giving the the youth of today. Ignorance is bliss and pointing the finger at someone else is all too easy. NO is not the fast food restaurants fault your 4 year old weighs 120 lb. It's yours for taking the easy way out and not wanting to be a parent and tell hem No, being a "Friend" to your kids is far more important.

    Just a little last minute thought to any who say parents don't know the information or were to get it. We are in the age of information. With even a small amount of effort you can find any information you want. I can Google how to make a Nuclear Bomb and get most of the information needed, so don't tell me that you "don't know". Work - its a four letter word I know, but its not an outside agency that needs to give you the information/tools to be a parent, so you can sit on your butt and tell me you raised your kid.
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    Oct 22 2011: We over-eat because our appetite is a biological system, tuned to a reality where sugar was available only in ripe fruit in the autumn (when it was a REALLY good idea to add weight) and where you generally had to walk a couple of miles for your dinner and then maybe only got half a portion and had to walk another mile for the rest. The older you got, and the more your joints ached, the stronger your appetite had to be, in order to get you to feed yourself. In the end, you starved to death. Today, you’re more likely to eat yourself to death. It’s a big difference.

    The responsibility for better education belongs to whoever CAN to do anything about it. "Responsibility" in this sense of the word is the direct reverse of "freedom". If you are free to act, then you are 100% responsible for the consequences of what you do or not do. Responsibility in this sense has nothing to with blame. Blame is something we do to each other, not something mystical that is already there, and that the "blamer" points out.

    So, each parent is 100% responsible, as is each kid, each teacher and each politician who could have set up a better system. And each food company executive is 100% responsible for the way he balances his company's short-term profit and the long-term health of its customers.

    We do stupid things like over-eat and under-exercise both because we don't know any better (Remedy = information, as you indicate), and because our actions are governed by systems inside our brains that are no more rational than dog brains, and are EXTREMELY prone to short-term planning (No remedy known yet).
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      Oct 23 2011: I could not agree more with everyone having 100% responsibility.
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    Oct 22 2011: Corinne,

    Everyone's.

    But children need far less education with expert information and far more engaging, experiential encounters with healthy lifestyles. They need modeling that makes active, healthy behaviors the norm, not the exception.

    Answers to systemic problems like these require systemic solutions.

    Andrea
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    Nov 18 2011: For the last year and a half I have been part of a holistic effort to create healthy communities in nine towns and 11 schools. The short answer to Corinne's question in my opinion is that its everyone's responsibility. Most certainly families, but also schools, corner stores, farmers, and more. Our policy and decision makers have a responsibility to ensure that their directives whether school wellness policy or zoning encourage opportunities for health rather than discourage or hinder.

    Corinne notes some great research and there is other relevant findings as of late to the impact of environmental factors being at least as important if not more so than personal choices. Environmental factors include access to healthy food options such as fresh and appealing fruits and vegetables. It's also about safe places to be active outdoors and clean air.
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    Tao P 50+

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    Nov 15 2011: Parents, family and community. Lets all stop relying on the state to educate. They do a terrible job at it. It's time to stop wasting money, resources and potential in these poor excuses for schools. Include children in day to day life and they will grow in a similar fashion as to how they begin to talk, by exposure to stimulus. If one can step out of the 'more money more teachers' dogma and look at how ineffective schools are we can begin a serious discussion
  • Nov 14 2011: This is a very difficualt issue to tackle in north America as people are required to pay-for their healthcare, mainly through insurence. This means there is a reduction in the ammount of interventory action that can be taken by the government as a sink or swin mantra is reinforced through leaving all responsibilities for ones immediate health to the individual(s). On the other-hand in countires where healthcare is provided majoritivly through the state the qaulity of the servie provided (per-person) increases (i.e. change4life in Britain) but is loosely enforced and ill-promoted, largely because of miscommunication and an unwillingness of multi-angency co-operation.

    With this in mind the main theme involved in healthcare in the 21st century is 'responsibility', who is responsible for the deterioration of mass health issues such as these.

    1) Legislation needs to be reconfigured concerning the fat, salt and sugar content within food - especially food aimed at children - the traffic light system used in Britain is a good start but there is much more to be done. As with the imagry on cigerette packets some form of verbal or imagry shock tactics could be employed to educated people are the dangers of overeating and the consuptions of high fat food stuffs.

    2) All schools should be responcible for offering a healthy meal menu whcih should be advertised to parents in an appropriate way. For instance, inviting parents and children into school to cooking lessons/demonstations similar to that provided my Jamie Oliver. It is of grave importance that children understand where food comes from, how it is produced and what is added to it during its manufacture.

    3) Simply, governments need to act to reduce the cost of fresh ingredients in supermarkets including making sure that farmers are given a fair deal in the production process. Far too few politicians have the gall to go up agaist the corporations that are profiting on the back on one of the worlds largest health dangers.
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    Nov 13 2011: Some really interesting thoughts here:

    I can see how there are many different cause and effect elements in how people make their choices, both young and old... and each new generation initially find themselves reliant, on those who precede to provide example...

    Diet is habitual, and as mentioned, wellness can be achieved through lifestyle choices. The issue in a modern world that demands so much of our attention, with the carrot of convenience and the stick of long work days, people have grown to see food as a fix rather than where it should be; at the apex of way of life, much like quality of sleep and clean drinking water. I for one can relate to being lazy with my diet at times.

    Parents naturally have a responsibility to their children; and schools equally have an opportunity to educate children irrespective of what may be absent at home. Broadcasters can, and do, play a vital role in inspiring the young and old to make lifestyle changes. From experience I personally believe we can be thankful here in the UK whereupon for years the majority of family TV programmes have been broadcast over a mere handful of channels, which has enabled the funding and focus of quality public documentary programming to a broad domestic audience.

    Most importantly, people themselves have a responsibility to effect habitual change in their own lives. The individual should lead themselves, follow examples of where they want to go, not where they have been. It is too easy to fall back into old habits right? We live in a free world so start by rejecting the unhealthy in favour of the healthy. We can also petition and mobilise into groups to effect local change at the heart of our communities.

    Finally, it is clear that our retailers and their wholesale suppliers have a responsibility to position healthier foods before all others in terms of both visibility and pricing. It is possible for the public to vote for it as shareholders and as customers.
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    Nov 10 2011: More ideas...

    Unfortunately in this capitalist neo-liberal world where money is almost the only grand motivation, may be the solution must come in that line. I mean the motivation that would change people behavior.

    A solution where there are consequences besides the "far away" coming Diabetes, Cardiovascular, Self-esteem, etc.
    Consequences where people being or having overweight/obese siblings, or not engaging in a non harmful life style (I don't even write a "healthy", but at least not harmful) have a chance and then if not compliant their pockets will be targeted (not popular I know that's why I started with "unfortunately").

    Ideas:
    A) If a child/worker is found to be overweight/obese the family living with the child/worker has to go through a two month teaching program where is taught how to engage in physical activity (doesn't mean gym or a sport), adequate eating (each family has its own culture and routines), psychological work;
    B) Once these 2 months were successfully completed they would have to visit a local center monthly for 1 year;
    C) After this year, there would be an analyses of the progresses made by each individual and the family;
    D) If they would meet a set of previous established objectives they would be discharged from the program.

    Where is the "pocket attack"?
    1. Time is money, people attending these programs would "loose" time;
    2. To pay for part of the costs with structures, all professionals and activities these people would either loose part of a financial assistance/benefits they might have or pay their taxes + X in the year of their program;
    3. If people in the program quit, fail to comply or do not achieve the objectives, there will be different fines, extra charging on hospital taxes or health insurance, no co-payment from governments in medication.

    I see this as a government health plan not sponsored by food supplements/pharmaceutical industry or gym companies.
    • Nov 19 2011: Hi Joao. Nice point of view. It,s original, but I don,t understand, but I can´t understand points 2 and three your hypothesis. Could you explain it to me e bit more, please. I,m a pediatrician involved in childhood obesity and I meant you have an original idea, but I can´t see you echonomical way support
      Thanks a lot
      Manolo.
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        Nov 19 2011: Hi Manolo.
        A project like this has to be sustained in part by those who need it. To charge everyone would be unfair. We have to keep in mind that this plan is not to attack people is to help them, that's why their's a 1 year and 2 months program before "heavy" measures.
        Point 2):In the country I live people with financial difficulties have a financial support, let's say at school the government pays for all or part of the books, or the meals at school, couples with certain number of children and small income or people who don't have a job also and a lot other. For those the motivation to learn and adopt a better life style would be in loosing this supports.
        On other hand people with money enought not to have these supports would have to pay taxes + X in the year of their program. As such they would be also motivated to comply with changes.

        Point 3) by not achieving the goals set in the beginning or leaving the program people would have to pay a fine and/or would loose their financial support when buying medicines or visiting an hospital. In the country I live, people go to the hospital and according to their social status pay differently (direct translation "moderator taxes"). And everyone when goes to a pharmacy with a prescription from the doctor have some cheaper medicines because the government pays part.

        This would work in two ways: people would feel a financial motivation to change behaviors and on other hand is socially fair. Why? Health represents a huge part of government year budgets, on health as you know cardiovascular diseases are the 1st cause of death, desability(stroke) and chronic diseases. Obesity is central to HTN, DMT2, hypercholestorolemia, and a lot other.. so it is only fair that those consciously contributing to increase this problem to loose their financial supports from the government. It is a question towards self and other.
        • Nov 19 2011: Thanks Joao.
          I´ll reread your answer, searching the way to adapt it to my country. I live in a society where people thinks to cure theirself is not their responsabilty; they think they should be cured by public health, whithout cash and effort, of course!
          Sincerelly yours
          Manuel
  • Nov 10 2011: We need to all choose a versatile and general system of facts on healthy body-fueling principles and all of us need to stand behind that canonical information in a unified and official way so it becomes more ingrained in our civilization. It needs to become the "Bible" of healthy eating. Like the Apple Computers of health where it makes it easy for the masses to pick it up and use it successfully.

    It has to be simple, effective, and popularized through unity so that it can overcome and eradicate the other smaller lifestyle based myths and old-wives tales about food that are spamming our public consciousness.

    It would be in the same official spirit as the food pyramid, but much deeper (yet still easy for the masses to understand and practice)
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    Nov 9 2011: Parents, parents, parents.
    Better societies come from better parenting.
    • Nov 10 2011: Cool you just solved the problem! :)

      Now all the obese parents in the world will teach their children to be healthy!!! yayyy!!!
  • Nov 2 2011: Kids are going to eat what's available. I believe this begins at home. With a good foundation kids will make better decisions at school.
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    Nov 2 2011: For me it is easy - parents at first - they should give grounds to all this - they are first contact of the baby/kid with world, they are to show the kid how to behave, how to survive... And when there are good grounds, then schools come as a second step - having classes in gym at least twice a week for everyone, having 5 vegetables/fruits a day.. learning by watching :)
  • Oct 31 2011: Miss Finnie you are very intuitive but you also like to stir the pot and I like that:) This is my first response on here but it is an important one because I too deal and see this every day and I believe it is one of our greatest dillemas as americans.

    The answer to this question is simple and we all know it but like most americans we try to dissect it until its enigmatic.

    WE ARE ALL RESPONSIBLE.

    Judgment seems to be selective in the US and its not right. We must first look inward and respect ourselves and than project that outward and assist people in respecting themselves.

    Ignorance is no longer an excuse and I believe that is at the heart of this problem. PEOPLE NOT ONLY LIKE TO BE INGNORANT THEY CHOOSE IT and we all allow it... thats the sad part.

    thank you.
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      Oct 31 2011: Jay,

      I'm with you. This is a systemic problem, which requires a systemic "all of us" solution. A lot less talking and lot more doing, by everyone.

      I'm involved in a delightful initiative called "Play it Forward: Paha Sapa" that engages people from all ages, ends, economic, ethnic and abilities of our community spectrum in engaging physical play and healthy eating.

      What never ceases to amaze me if how much fun we are having, while others with their wrinkled brows are stuck in conference rooms trying to find answers. In my mind, they'd do a lot more good if they brought the problem to their local park with a football or frisbee and invited people to play.

      A "subversive," non-standard way to illuminate healthy lessons. But effective, I'd say, if only....

      Andrea
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        Oct 31 2011: Andrea, please, tell us more about the Play it Forward idea.
        I like the word-play.
        The movie Pay it Forward was a turning point for me personally, and helped me to propel my energy in a bolder way towards a personal call to effect change.

        I am seeing "play" is a constant with you... just saying...
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          Oct 31 2011: Karina --

          Yes, play is a theme with me. Maybe more so as I also engage with serious topics like politics that can be so draining I need to build outlets into to de-stress and keep myself as healthy as possible. It's my way of detoxing!

          And I'm very bought into to the endorphin-effect of play and positive social interactions.

          That said, I'm now heading out for Halloween treats. But promise Corrine I'll work them off soon!

          Andrea
      • Oct 31 2011: all great ideas are non standard thats what makes them great and the KISS method will always prevail. thanks for your follow up.jjon

        I apologize this reply was meant for Andreas thread
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      Oct 31 2011: I agree with you!
      A good idea you have pointed out is that people opt to be ignorant! I would say they choose not to live accordingly to what they generally know is better for their health.
      As a young medical doctor I like to talk with patients and try to understand their options. In the end when comes the part of health advices and related attitudes (physical activity, ways to deal with stress, eating habits) they know almost every general behavior they should have. Most don't practice any because they don't want to.

      They don't have the culture of spending time and effort on such changes.People prefer to think that science will come with something new soon enough to help them, they prefer to ask for medication to stabilize their conditions... It is part of our task to tell people what is correct, but I clearly feel that most don't care.

      To change behaviors will take time... I can't see a drastic change on this in a near future! Though I work for it every day :)
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    Oct 30 2011: All the parts of your question/title to this topic are part of a lifestyle!

    There is no real meaning in pointing out who is responsible, it is something that most people, even those not living for a healthier life know. Is something like asking who is responsible to tell teenagers that smoking is bad for their health?

    The main concern is how to change the lifestyle of our days to a different one.
    How to drive everything (education, industry, health, pharmaceuticals) spinning around the actual life style towards one where the concept of Wellness is a center piece.

    For most people Wellness is thought as something expensive and exclusive. But Wellness is nothing more than a lifestyle where people invest time and money in options, activities or products that are biologically and psychologically better.

    To exercise, to have an healthy diet, to build self esteem is part of a self respect culture! A culture of long term thinking, a culture where what you are matter more than what you own. A little too different from what exist today?
    • Nov 9 2011: Very well said. I too am in health care and am in rehab and see the break down every day but all it takes is one patient to change the way they eat or is some way their life and its all worth it. thanks again for your insight.
    • Nov 10 2011: this is a big element.

      The ones on the other side of that lifestyle, the ones on the dark side need to be given hope and clear plan to empower themselves.

      The problem is the ones that do seek out a life change usually fail because the information is too hard to process due to over saturation and bogus diet plans and techniques that riddle our civilization.

      We need a super official authority on health to set everything straight in a publicly conscious way. A clearly refined and easily understood method of fueling and maintaining these walking delicate supercomputers we call our brains and bodies.
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    Oct 27 2011: I feel that it is everyone's responsibility. The media plays such an essential role, so why not have celelebrities, commercials, or your everyday individual contributing to this effort. I feel it would be great to have twice as much commercials talking about healthy eating as opposed to pepsi commercials. As for positive self esteem we would have to change our media's perception, which is essentialy OUR perception. There is already an accepted world wide view on how a male or female is particularly suppose to look. To initiate positive self esteem I feel that we need to start advertising average looking people on our commercials or tv screens (not this glamorous made up) portrayal of a female I could never be. This would take rejecting and challenging world wide opinions on others as well as ourselves.
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    Oct 27 2011: I believe that the statistics you have described in your question are applicable all over the world (especially in the developing countries like my own, India), and not just North America. However the situation isn't probably as bad here as I believe it is there. But with brands like McDonalds cropping up at every 500m and the heavy western influence, urban India is surely headed North America's way..

    Its fairly clear from the comments here that its the responsibility of everyone, with whom the child interacts, to make the younger generation aware. Each person you mentioned has their own role to play -

    1. PARENTS- Encouraging the child to eat green vegetables and fruits. Discouraging eating out. Its as simple as that. As long as the child is being raised at home, encourage home-made meals and avoid food from outside. The kids generally stay with their parents for atleast 18 years and this time is enough to inculcate good food values in them. Even though "Parents do not have the practical information to teach their children about nutrition", I'm sure every parent can differentiate from the 'good food' and the 'bad food'.
    2. SCHOOLS/COLLEGES- Awareness through teaching and special courses. Small but periodic workshops is another option. Guest lectures by dietitians, nutritionists etc. too. A very good technique is injecting a fear of the consequences of over-consumption of junk food into the brains of the young minds, which may be with the help of case-studies, images, videos etc. A combination all these techniques is the most efficient solution.
    3. FOOD CORPS- We can only hope they do it as a part of their corporate social responsibility.
    4. GOVERNMENT- Awareness campaigns >aware public >less diseases >healthier public >less headache for the govt. in form of health spendings

    And...
    5. Parents - Again, yes. Teaching them to stop following others' lives on facebook & start concentrating on their own. Self-education from the 'Good Internet' *cough..TED..cough*
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    Oct 26 2011: Hi Corinne,
    I guess I can sense your worry and concern here,
    This issue is happening not only in the United States, though it holds the highest rate of obesity.
    It also has been the major concern of many other countries which are having increase in its junk food level, such countries are China, Australia and many of developing ones.

    Obesity is our world's major issue currently. Sleeping late also is an affecting factor to weight gaining. Anykind of living creatures, not only human, when they eat excessive amount of food (especially synthetic ones) and are exposed to light at night (such as: working until midnight, staying up for the football match); they will definitely gain weight. And if, this process is being continued and nobody feels like he/she is in charge for the initial course of action, obesity, diabetic disease and any other adverse issues will increase whereas the level of healthiness decrease.

    It is our responsibility together in educating our young people on healthy eating, physical activity and positive self esteem.
    The aternative way to make kids eat their veggies is to make the food delicious yet healthy. All the healthy, cheap and tasty food' recipes which are not made for vegetarians only are everywhere, to be found in every source (first-hand and second-hand resource, from direct conversation w/ poeple until the internet).

    I suggest the schools make healthy living a tradition and provide balance in the curriculas they adopt. Seminaries for the parents and teachers must be held regularly in order to increase their awareness for the impact on the causality in the case where students' negative self-esteem, substandard physical activity and unhealthy habits make their way into students' lives.

    I think the best possible way is to start action on students first, from every level—smallest grade to the highest. Since they are still very young at age, they are capable to start off wonderfully before it's too late for them to change lifestyles..
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    Oct 25 2011: Being both a grandmother of a 17 year old, 7 year old with autism and mother of a 15 year old, I feel it is an extensive community joy and responsibility. Extended family, elders, spiritual leaders, neighbors, professionals, politicians, teachers, administrators, NGO's, businesses, peers, grocery stores, coaches. Learning is inspiration. Wherever wisdom comes from for my boys, I am grateful. Thanks for the inquiry. Michelle Obama is releasing a book on this subject.
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    Oct 25 2011: The parents first then the entire community, by example.
    Phil