Don’t let our state live up to expectationsPublished 12:01am Wednesday, September 19, 2012
Either you or me had best start eating.
We have “big” expectations to meet, according to a national advocacy group that’s making bold predictions and headlines even without exactly explaining their data.
The Trust for America’s Health — sounds important, doesn’t it? — released a study Tuesday predicting that more than half the people in the majority of the states will be obese by 2030.
It’s no surprise that the study pegged Mississippi as the fattest of the fat. Their projections say 67 percent of adults in our great state will be obese in 18 years.
We love our fried chicken and sweet tea, so that might sound reasonable until you look at the current Mississippi obesity rate — 35 percent.
Apparently, we will jump 32 percentage points in less than two decades.
Are you eating? I’m thinking I’ll get a snack, maybe a honeybun or a cheeseburger, while I write the rest of this column.
The Trust for America’s Health also predicted that Delaware would be 65 percent obese and the skinny minnies in Colorado would be 45 percent obese.
The study didn’t offer details on why some states jumped in the fat-odometer at a rate higher than others.
The study does outline formulas used for calculations and explains that phone surveys of residents were used to gather data.
I hope they didn’t call during dinnertime.
Joking aside, obesity is certainly a valid problem, especially here in the South. I can’t agree with the belief that obesity is strictly a personal problem. But I also don’t think the government has any right to shut down McDonald’s.
Instead, obesity must be viewed as a health problem affecting our friends and loved ones and costing the taxpayer money that needs attention from all of us.
Sure, old Jim over there probably needs to cut back on the donuts and he may be personally capable of fixing that.
But a child brought up on cheese puffs and pizza may be obese before he’s old enough to make his own dinner or handle the grocery shopping.
That child has just as much of a right to a healthy lifestyle as a 40-year-old, but the child’s parents may not, unfortunately, be capable of fulfilling that need.
And that’s where others have to step in.
Federal government mandates likely can’t solve the problem, but community-by-community, residents can make a difference in changing lifestyles before 2030 rolls around.
I’m not so sure the Trust for America’s Health has the best predictions, but that doesn’t negate what was probably their goal — bring attention and awareness to a serious problem.
What can you do, you ask?
Take care of yourself, first. Make cheeseburgers and honeybuns the treats, not the norm.
Train your children to do the same.
Then, look for opportunities to support educational programs that promote a healthy lifestyle, even if your level of support means simply not griping about the idea.
Start a pickup basketball game with the neighborhood kids and keep it going weekly.
Invite some co-workers to join you for nightly walks along the river.
Approach a friend you believe may be struggling with their weight and be supportive and encouraging.
In short, do something. Get off the couch, put down the snack and prove folks like the Trust for America’s Health flat wrong.
We may be fat now, but that doesn’t mean Mississippi will be fatter in 20 years.
Julie Cooper is the managing editor of The Natchez Democrat. She can be reached at 601-445-3551 or firstname.lastname@example.org.