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Times Are Definitely Changing

Posted Sep 21 2011 9:18am

Last night’s fitblog chat had an awesome topic; how advertising affects the health of our nation. 

Do you think major companies promote their unhealthy products to a point that made the obesity rate soar, our overall concept of health diminish or change, and the life expectancy of the current generation to be less than those of the past?

It was ironic that this was the discussion because yesterday in my Personal and Social Development Class, the kids took turns explaining a typical day in their homes.  Most of them shared they leave home in the morning with no breakfast, or a PopTart while running out the door, barely any contact with their parents, or a negative interaction with a family member. 

They then come to school, hungry, tired, and ultimately mad at their situation so lash out at me, my colleagues, or other students, which creates more anger and resentment because of the disciplinary consequence.  None of these feelings are really about the work they are forced to do, the kid next to them that has the same “kicks,” or the peanut butter and jelly they eat for lunch everyday because that’s all the cafeteria provides for the CLIIP classroom.  Their fury and irritation is at home, and when they were further explained their evenings, I kind of understood why.

Most of them go home, go on the computer, or their cell phones and make plans for the night.  Whenever they solidify a friend or place to “chill,” they leave, and don’t return until 9:00-10:00 PM. 

“What do you do for dinner?” My co-teacher asked.

“Just grab whatever.  There’s usually something in the fridge…you know, pizza rolls, hot pockets, or we get McDonalds or Burger King…man the fries at Burger King are tight.”

Ok, that was my best effort to directly quote what a student says, because usually I need a translator to understand their language, but regardless, most of them were unfamiliar with the concept of a sit-down dinner, home-cooked meal, or family time.

So really, this brings me to two conclusions.

I don’t necessarily blame advertising agencies or massive corporations for corrupting the health of our nation.  I blame the tremendous shift in values within the family unit, and finances.

I am not saying we sat down and ate our meals together everyday when I was growing up.  That would have been nearly impossible with a five-year age gap between my sister and I, the sports practices and club meetings that occurred all year-long, and my mom (and later my Poppy) working random hours because our family owned their own business.  BUT during the week there was always something home-made ready when our individual meal times took place, and at least someone around who asked about our days. 

These kids have neither of those things! In fact, a third of my population is the parental figure for their younger siblings, which is why frozen entrees and fast food are staples in their diets.  They have no one to teach them any differently! 

For this reason I am hoping that I can secure the home-ec room to maybe teach them some simple meals or snacks that require minimal preparation, aren’t super expensive, and have a balanced nutritional profile.  If anyone has suggestions please let me know!  I am hoping the kids will appreciate it.

My second conclusion, the value of a dollar, I somewhat touched on in my post following when I watched Food Inc. 

Junky food is CHEAP!  I am always looking through my weekly grocery-ads and seeing, buy one get one free bags of chips, sugary drinks for a dollar, and frozen pizza to feed the entire family for almost nothing!  No wonder parents chose these options over apples that are $2.50 a pound, or whole-grain snack foods that can be double the BOGO potato crisps. 

I personally feel that you can live healthily on a budget.  After all, we manage to buy produce, yogurt, nuts, cows milk, almond milk, nut butters, lean meats, etc. and stay within my weekly budget, but coupons aren’t typically available for these things so you have to work a little harder to find the deals.  Not to mention I visit farmers markets and a few different grocery stores depending on their bonus card promotions. 

(I also don’t think people consider the long-term costs of poor health…hello hospital bills!  They are wicked expensive!)

All of this probably sounds time-consuming, but we added it up one time and we save an average of $50 dollars a week by taking 2-3 hours out of my life to prepare a list, cut coupons, menu plan, and actually do the shopping. 

I understand that may seem unfeasible for some, and that could be true.  Everyone’s lives, schedules, financial situations, and priorities are different, but going back to the original question, about who or what is to blame for the declining health of our country, it is not fair to completely target corporations, commercials, or gimmicks. 

It is the shift in family values, the hectic schedules, lack of education, easy access to junk, and a slew of other things that contribute to our current wellness situation.

I would love to hear the thoughts of others! I found it really interesting to read the variety of responses generated from the four questions on fitblog chat last night, so it would be great to hear from you. 

Hope you have an awesome hump day!

Look for the WIAW post tonight, featuring a killer dinner recipe!

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