Thomas Jefferson once said, “Just because we differ in opinion, doesn’t mean we differ in principle.” He also said Americans should exercise every day. Both of these Jeffersonian pearls are relevant to America’s current state of obesity denial.
America’s insatiable appetite for all things edible is rivaled only by its appetite for pointing the finger of responsibility rather than accepting it ourselves. To blame fast-food restaurants, advertising campaigns or school lunches for childhood obesity while ignoring the absence of parental aptitude is ludicrous. Even more ludicrous is the notion that government programming at any level can effectively substitute for the discipline lacking in so many parents. Until political posturing can burn about 600 calories an hour, there won’t be much help coming from Bacon Hill or the White Castle House.
In 2003, an appellate court judge in NY threw out a lawsuit against McDonald’s. The suit claimed McDonald’s was responsible for making kids overweight. In his decision, the judge wrote:
“If a person knows or should know that eating copious orders of super-sized McDonald’s products is unhealthy and may result in weight gain, it is not the place of the law to protect them from their own excesses.”
Neither can the law protect people from their own deficiencies. In nearly ALL childhood obesity cases, that deficiency is the failure of parents to provide the proper guidance and role model-ship for their children, be it grounded in ignorance, apathy or both. There are rare exceptions, but look at the parents of any obese child and you will likely see that he or she was not the winner of the parental lifestyle lottery.
As long as we busy ourselves with more politically correct attempts to address America’s fitness malaise, both adults and their children will continue a three-decade long trend of growing fatter and less fit. And as long as politicians benefit more from telling people what they want to hear instead of what they need to hear, our country will become increasingly burdened by those who depend on the government rather than themselves.
There are numerous reasons for why America’s lack of physical fitness spans all racial, economic and cultural lines. The number one reason is a refusal on the part of individuals to take personal responsibility for their food and exercise behaviors. To put it in perspective, this lack of personal responsibility is the Titanic, and all the other reasons are just deck chairs being mindlessly rearranged by the mostly well-intentioned who either don’t understand the issue or are too fearful of hurting others’ feelings.
So for now, our kids, our economy, our future and our country will continue to pay the price. Not since the Great Depression has our country needed the resiliency and self-sufficiency of her citizenry more than now. But in this time when America needs us most, most Americans are needier than ever.