Thursday, June 21, 2007

Not Just Shaq

There’s a new TV program that will feature Shaquille O’Neal and centers around his efforts to get some morbidly obese kids thinner. It’s got a good message, but I think these kinds of programs are missing one of the real problems when it comes to obese children.

Stepson has a weight problem. He’s not grown very well, is smaller than most boys in his class, and has packed on the pounds in the last couple years like he was planning on hibernating. When I’ve reviewed some pictures from the beginning of med school and look at the changes in him I’m amazed and saddened. Truly something needs to be done.

Exercise and eating right are about the best options for him; yet this is truly not an easy undertaking in our current state-run educational system. School ends at 3pm after which he goes to an after-school care program where Daughter has preschool where he actually does get some time outside. Stepson is there until either one of this 3 parents (mom, dad, me) can pick him up. Then he has homework. TONS of homework since he’s in advanced classes. By the time he’s finished it’s time for dinner and bathing. Bedtime is 8:30pm and he’s had almost no time after school to get some good quality time outside.

But what of recess? Don’t even get me started on this apparently antiquated notion. Schools all over the nation are removing recess and PE as they continue to cut down on "extracurriculars" in favor of cramming more and more education down kid’s throats. The kids are restless, have little to no outlet, and are being drugged up the wazoo for ADHD. WTF is wrong here?

Stepson is allowed 10-15 minutes for the entire day to be outside. THE ENTIRE DAY! His PE classes are a joke. I’ve actually seen video at his graduation ceremony where the kids were holding sticks and trying to twirl rubber plates on them. And this is not just a singular occurrence – apparently it’s part of a “friendly” PE regimen where kids aren’t made to feel inferior through competition.

Now some people state that video games are the issue along with poor nutrition - as this seems to be the main focus seen in that TV show. I agree with these issues in part, but when there’s really no time to play anything due to increasing educational loads then we’re missing the bigger picture. Education is important to our youth, but sacrificing their health in order to “make the grade” is not an option. I don’t know why it ever became acceptable for children to be locked up in classes all day without recess in the first place.

We can blame the video industry, fast food culture, and the increasingly popular idea that “fat is not ugly”, but we have to address the fact that our children are not getting enough exercise. An hour a day – is it really that hard? Our children are getting fatter, sicker, and have poorer self-images of themselves due to these problems. Hell, we, as a nation, are the fattest we’ve ever been. Perhaps more parents and teachers need to get out and play with the kids, rather than just lecture to them.

So, since I’ve rambled on and preached about what you should be doing, it’s only fair to let you know what I plan to do. My plan for this summer includes going to the pool daily and swimming laps, having a physical and labwork done by his pediatrician for a nagging belief that there’s possibly a hormonal imbalance, and eating more fruit and veggies. He’s just finished up baseball (which is really not a good sport to loose weight with) and has camp during the day which will enable me time to study for Step 2 CK. Hopefully we can shed some pounds before he starts school again. I know I need to loose a lot as well and together we might just do it.


Doc's Girl said...

Having someone to do the weight loss thing with helps A LOT... Resident boyfriend has lost a total of over 50lbs (over almost a year) and I've lost 10 (in a month). I feel so much healthier...

This will also give you good quality time together. :)

radioactive girl said...

My daughter and I go "running" together. It's great when you can make exercise fun, and I completely understand your thoughts on how school hinders the kids from getting proper exercise. At my kids school, the recess lady actaully yells at them if they run around. I think it makes it harder to watch them, but I thought that was the point of recess!

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