On Thursday night I attended a town hall meeting hosted by the Anniston Star. I watched a portion of the HBO documentary The Weight of the Nation. Then a discussion was held by the people there on what we can do to solve the obesity crisis in Calhoun County and across the country. To learn more about The Weight of the Nation and watch the documentary online go to http://theweightofthenation.hbo.com/.
Here is the Anniston Star article about the meeting. http://www.annistonstar.com/view/full_story/19072414/article-Ideas–philosophies-shared-at-meeting-on–Our-Big-Problem-?instance=home_lead_story
During the documentary; most people in the room were surprised that heart disease and plaque in the arteries was present in young children. People also agreed that obesity hits the low-income people the hardest because it’s cheaper for a large family to eat cheap unhealthy food. There are options to help low-income families to afford healthier food. Removing taxes on fruits and vegetables and putting on a new tax on soft drinks and processed foods in my belief is a great option to get people to eat healthier. But the current political environment in Montgomery will not allow that to happen. But local cities could do something like this.
Most people said that kids needs role-models in their lives. Anyone from coaches, teachers, volunteers, and community members could be used as mentors to inspire kids to eat healthier and live by example. Kids also look up to their parents. So when they see parents eating junk food or pulling out a frozen pizza for dinner after hard work is not leading by example. It can still be frozen but it can be healthier. One thing I would suggest is community cooking classes for anyone so they can learn ways to cook healthier for low-cost and it is quick. Parents also needs to inspire kids to be active. If kids see their parents active and in shape; they will be inspired as well. One thing I liked that was suggested was sitting down together and having a family meal.
Schools also needs to teach kids about healthy eating and being active. I would like to see P.E. classes required all the way through high school. And the excuse of having a doctor note is not valid in most cases. During P.E. classes try out new ways of being active throughout the year instead of doing the basic sports. I would also like to see recess in schools as well. During the school year time could be taken to teach younger kids about eating healthy and being active. Another thought could be teaching high school students to cook healthier while at school. But the community also has to be involved in getting people healthier as well. The knowledge to fix a healthy meal is not there anymore. And that needs to be changed.
One thing I liked about what Disney is doing is not allowing TV ads based on junk food on their channels aimed at kids. People agreed sadly that some people get information on food by watching TV. The businesses marketing unhealthy food does not have the best interest in the American people. Do you also notice that there are many other infomercials about diets and exercise programs about getting healthier and it’s not working. People also agreed that everyone needs to spend less time watching TV or being on a computer. At the same time grocery stores have to always compete with the unhealthy fast food joints. Stores could put out ingredient lists for a meal and you could pick up quick. Publix does this by having someone demonstrating making a meal each weekday.
The community also needs to make the change. One thing I really support is complete streets. Which reduces the road size to slow people down and adds sidewalks and bike lanes to make it a safer environment. Parks also needs an update. The traditional playground and basketball courts will not make everyone happy and gets boring. Why not add a skateboard park, or a paintball park, or more swimming options. Kids love getting dirty and cities needs to capitalize on that even with the liability issue. Also the communities needs to be safer. Some areas are not safe for kids to play outside and that needs to change. One person suggested fruit and vegetable trucks to replace the ice cream trucks you see during the summer. Another suggestion was a community garden.
Also the area needs to advertise the great options we have got like the Chief Ladiga trails and the Coldwater Mountain Bike Trails. Communities also needs to increase access in doctors and health care. Some people can not afford health care because of the costs. People also needs to enjoy what they eat, be wise in what they are eating, and know what they are eating. Everyone knows people needs lifestyle and culture changes but it’s not brain surgery to make these changes. Another great suggestion is to know your BMI and eat breakfast! It’s not wrong to eat a cookie or a donut but not eat too many at once. Over time it has become acceptable to be overweight and that needs to change. We need to change the view of the public that being overweight is not okay. I thought that was very thoughtful.
Overall this was a great meeting. This is something that I hope will catch fire over time. By the way I do Shape Up! here on Geek Alabama. Watch the video below to learn more.
- Shape Up! – Week 21 (geekalabama.com)