Column: It’s tough for kids to stay healthy

• Originally published in the Kane County Chronicle on Sept. 23, 2008

The desire to be unhealthy has never been so tempting.

Fatty, quick food is as cheap as ever, especially when compared with healthy alternatives. Social interaction can be done sitting in front of a computer or with a cell phone just as easily as out at a park or a party. And TV just keeps adding channels upon channels of programming that are a lot more fun to watch than our own feet running step by step down a sidewalk.

And I’m as guilty as anyone.

After finding out my cholesterol was trying to kill me last summer, I’ve done my best to change my lifestyle. I’ve dropped 30 pounds in the last year through mostly just watching my saturated fats and cutting out eggs and other items high in cholesterol. But I still wouldn’t consider myself healthy. Lunch too often is a plain chicken sandwich, parfait and sweet tea from McDonald’s – not exactly a healthy, well-balanced meal. Working out too often is replaced by extra hours at the office. Relaxation too often consists of channel surfing.

I am not the example I should be.

And while I don’t have any children, I certainly hope I can become a better example when and if that should happen.

Because kids these days need all the help they can get when it comes to battling obesity.

Childhood obesity is a growing problem all across America. And over the next four days, we will be looking at that problem and what we can do to solve it – whether it be through food choices, fun exercise, walkable communities or parental involvement. These are our future leaders, our future workers, our future examples. And if we can’t help them to achieve a healthy lifestyle, it’s not going to get an easier with the next generation.

But in order for our children to succeed, we need to set an example for them to follow. After reading Eric Schelkopf’s series, I’ve decided that I need to do my part better as well. That means bringing a healthy lunch from home rather than stopping by the closest fast-food joint at about noon. That means working out in the morning before coming to work. That means going for a walk in the evening rather that checking out what’s new on TV.

Of course, as with our kids, all this needs to be balanced with moderation. There’s nothing wrong with the occasional trip for ice cream, playing an hour of video games here and there or watching your favorite TV series. It just can’t replace the other parts of life.

So as you read through our series over the next four days, don’t just think about what you and the community can do to help this problem. Think about what example you can set, as well.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s