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Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Solving the problem

Monday, October 1, 2012

America is one of the heaviest countries in the world. As far as obesity rates go, we are not far from the top.

Not surprisingly, we are on a path to solve that problem. To fight against this problem of obesity, Michelle Obama, two years ago, started the "Let's Move!" campaign and in 2012 initiated the "Healthy, Hunger-free kids Act." Reading up on both these I think the First Lady has indeed taken up an ambitious and daunting task. And though tasking as it is, I'm sure that all of this is well intended.

Good intentions maybe and it may be producing results, but I think the direction to actually solve the problem is a little off-center. This new legislation that was passed was proof of that. In light of an enthusiastic initiative, the White House is taking the easy way out, merely scratching the surface of the problem instead of going and changing things from the inside out.

It kind of backfired in my opinion. Lunches may be healthier but the kids who eat it aren't getting their fill. As a solution to this, they bring their own food but more often than not what they bring doesn't amount to much health-wise.

On an extreme side to monitor what students eat, a community next to ours has taken up the habit to go through the student's lunches. If what they found wasn't deemed "healthy," the lunch would then be confiscated and detention would be served instead.

There has to be some kind of explanation to all of this; some kind of happy medium to really hone in on the solution. This searching, of course, causes questions to arise.

My dad referred to our society as a sedentary society. To further explain himself, he stated that we no longer do the things that we once did. It wasn't until Mom showed me an email that I really got the message.

The email was titled: "TO ALL THE KIDS WHO SURVIVED the 1930's, 40's, 50's, 60's and 70's!!" Beneath this flamboyant title were 20 some things that the past generation did that we no longer carry out today. The most notable of these was: "We ate cupcakes, white bread and real butter and drank Kool-aid made with sugar, but we weren't overweight because, WE WERE ALWAYS OUTSIDE PLAYING!" The term playing outside in this email included: making mud pies, climbing trees, building go-carts, inventing games involving sticks and tennis balls, and leaving the house in the morning and playing until "the streetlights came on."

I think this doesn't quite fit our society today if you want to say it bluntly. We no longer stay out till the streetlights come on, for we either haven't the time or are more engaged in low calorie-burning activities indoors. This email brought me to mind that obesity is a generational problem that needs more attention than some fancy legislation and revamping the school lunch program. We need education on the hows and the whys. We need good role models, people who we can look up to and imitate and not some slim, animated cartoon characters strutting whimsically across the TV screen.

In order to challenge obesity we need to challenge the flaws that have arisen in our society. Decreasing the calorie count in school lunch won't solve it nor will sending high school students on a walk around their school solve it. To solve the problem, like any other problem, you need to get to the roots instead of just severing the stem. Yes, pull those gnarled and twisted roots before they get any deeper; wasn't that the way I was taught to pull weeds as a kid?

Attacking problems from the inside out instead of the outside in is the way to really solve them in the long run and I'll be a happy man when our politicians figure it out

* Jacob Olson is a SLHS graduate now attending Iowa Central Community College. He writes a weekly column for the Pilot-Tribune.