I have heard about as much as I can stand on this whole health care debate. Republicans and Democrats and everyone in between trying to rediscover the wheel with health care reform when we have an abundance of countries around the world that have figured it out already. Why are we not looking at one other country to gather what we can from their system and find out how it will work for ours? Last time I actually paid attention (unfortunately that was yesterday, I’m not able to find my apathy here) there were over 744 pages in the new healthcare bill. Of what? Mostly amendments and pork that have nothing to do with me or the other 315 million Americans who need health care. But there is one giant omission that, as far as I can tell, has not been addressed by anyone in congress to a significant degree. And that is prevention of preventable illnesses and ailments. What are these? Well, overweight and obesity for a start.
Would you believe that 63% of Americans are overweight or obese? That is over 6 of ever 10 people. 63 out of every 100. That means that if the average person knows 100 people, they, then they know 63 people who are:
• In danger of heart disease, diabetes, hypertension, asthma, migraines and even erectile dysfunction.
• Supporting corporations that provide poor quality foods to Americans, including food containing trans fats, meat with steroids, vegetables with high levels of toxic pesticides, and those are the ones that actually eat vegetables!
• Providing our children with fried and processed foods in their schools.
• Jamming up our hospitals and clinics and increasing our health care costs by as much as $147 billion a year according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), nearly 10 percent of all health care costs nationwide!
So why is nobody doing anything about it? The 2009 documentary Food Inc. looked into this problem and found staggering facts about large corporations and their quest for larger profits. Much of the food we eat is so scientifically enhanced in a way to provide it faster and cheaper that there is very little nutrients left. Only fat and empty calories. And who is to blame for buying this crap? America, of course.
Now, anyone who says “It’s a free country and I can do what I like” is absolutely right. It is a free country. But here’s the problem. When I hear this line, I hear something different. I hear “It’s a free country, and I can run up all of our health care costs, making things worse for all of us, if I want to”. I also hear “It’s a free country, and I can support corporations that will target us all to make us sick for a quicker profit if I want”. And don’t even get me started on parents who feed their children this garbage. Why not? Because I’m going to talk about it anyway.
Across America, the fastest growing population of overweight and obese people are kids. Children under 18 that are being fed processed and fried foods with no real benefit for our health. Parents, school food program administrators, hospitals; everywhere I look, I see junk food. These children then grow up to be overweight and obese adults. The cycle then continues. A University of North Carolina study in 2009 found that nearly one in three children in America are overweight or obese. Moreover, obese children as young as three years old have early warning signs for heart disease and diabetes while this and many other studies have shown that overweight and obese children are far more likely to become obese adults. In fact, when considering the lifelong ailments caused by parents who raise obese children because of a lack of caring or apathy towards healthy lifestyle choices, one could even make the case that raising overweight children should be a criminal offense. Anyone who disagrees is encouraged to visit nearly every other country in the world, where you would be hard pressed to find overweight or obese people as larger than even five percent of the population.
And a solution? I’m sorry, but with the exception of a bunch of self help books and some documentaries, I have seen little or nothing. I have not heard President Obama say anything. I did not hear President Bush say anything except for an unfortunate praise of our over-subsidized farmers and meat producers. I have heard calls for scientists, engineers, doctors, even border patrol! More border patrol? But has anyone heard the call for more nutritionists or dietitians? Has anyone heard of anyone calling for those who work to prevent us from spending $147 billion dollars a year on preventable health care costs? Are we going to let congress spend our time and money bickering over an overly-complex health care system that is so fouled up and muddled at this point that its stands to make very little difference if it passes or not? With just a fraction of this money, Americans can make a difference.
We need more nutritionists. An army of them. A civilian army of nutritionists and dietitians who take it upon themselves to cure America of obesity, thus stemming the tide of rising preventable ailments that are costing us billions of dollars per year, millions of lives, and countless sorrows. If you are still reading this, then you may very well want to do something about it. Tell our government its time to get behind nutrition and dietitian professionals and support the growth of these professions. There are numerous groups and institutions supporting this movement.