Great deals of fast food restaurants are trying to be more nutrition-minded. This may be a result of parents concern for their overweight children, among other things. I grew up during the 60s when fast food restaurants were the place to be. I can recall families having Fast food on their dinner tables during the hot summer days when mom didn’t feel like cooking.
As kids, after a grueling summer evening of basketball or baseball, we would rush home to get money and walk to the McDonalds, or Mickey Dee’s as we called it. If you grew up during the 50s or 60s, fast food was a part of being American. I became upset after learning that fast food restaurants were making changes to provide more nutritious foods. The food just didn’t taste the same to a lot of us (my peers from the days of old).
We began to blame the parents of obese children for allowing them to sit in front of a computer as opposed to playing outside, as we did as children. I can remember two days after a blizzard sometime during the 1990s. People were finally able to come outside. I was driving to the supermarket with my wife. As we traveled up, down and through the recently plowed streets I unconsciously repeated the same phrase over and over again; “that’s ashamed”. Finally my wife asked what in the world I was talking about. I explained that we must have passed half a dozen huge hills of snow, and there wasn’t one foot print, let along evidence of any sleds on them.” No wonder these kids are so fat” I said.
To make a long story short, one year I began to work with un-incarcerated youth for the first time. That was the beginning of what I call culture shock. I was quick to discover that the days of children playing in the park safe and free are gone; at least for the present.
I was teaching a kayaking class of kids from 12 to about 15yrs old. We were studying the effect of currents as they were preparing for a river trip. The class had been practicing in an indoor pool during the winter season. Very few of them had ever been on or near the river which flowed right next to their city. I asked what they did after school and why they didn’t hang out with their friends. They explained that they play computer games with their friends. This way the kids never have to leave their homes. The only time that they really see their friends is during school. Those kids further explained that violence can and usually does spring up anywhere. No neighborhood is free of this possibility. To defend their statements they began naming the many innocent classmates, relatives, and friends who have violently died from a miss guided bullet or mistaken identity.
It was at that point that I began to understand why there are so many more obese children than before. The world is no longer the place that I once knew. There was a time when parents made their children play outside to use up some of that misplaced energy. With what is going on in the world today, what parent would feel comfortable allowing their children to play unsupervised, and with the economy as it is, what parent would have the time to supervise? Nutrition for children is more important now than ever before. These kids do not have the privilege of working off their calories as we did. I am aware that there are many more reasons why kids do not exercise, but this experience made me aware of the importance for all of us to be more nutrition minded, for the children’s sake if nothing else.
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