Unhealthy America

obesity.kids Unhealthy America

So I’m about to wrap up my three-day excursion to Anaheim for a conference. Once again, I learned that sitting all day in sessions is exhausting and kills my body. I suppose putting in an early-morning run each day didn’t help–just set me up to be stiff–but I wouldn’t have missed that part of my day.

Apparently, though, the majority of America is quite content to pass up chances to exercise. And eat healthy. I took a little mid-day break yesterday to walk over to Downtown Disney to get something for each of the kids. While there, I was once again blown away by how unhealthy our society really is.

I was surrounded by entire families of overweight and obese people. They truly made up the majority of the folks out there strolling around. Or in some cases, not strolling, but riding in motorized chairs or being pushed in strollers–mostly, I’m guessing, because they don’t have the stamina to walk on their own power. And the food they were eating! Kids with huge sodas in hand, monster-sized servings of fries, cotton candy, etc. Really amazing.

I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised by this. I read about it, see it on TV, etc. But it still takes me back whenever I see it. Maybe my view is skewed–I come from a county near DC where everyone is super type-A and into fitness (Jeff and Beth, you know of what I speak). We have four triathlons for adults and two for kids staged just a few miles from my house. Most of my friends are athletes of some sort, and even if they aren’t, they are certainly fit and care about what they eat.

So when I see what America is doing to itself when it comes to health, it makes me sad. We are clearly failing the next generation by not teaching our kids the right lessons or sending them the right messages. It’s depressing.

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  1. MCM Mama says

    It always saddens me to see the unhealthy choices people make so much of the time. Even worse is how often it's hard to even FIND a healthy choice. Sigh.

  2. ajh says

    We can do our best by modeling what we believe. My students certainly see my joy in running and racing. When the kids at school join a fitness program called Many Milers I always have many many of my students join. I hope I make a difference fitness wise in at least one kids life.

  3. ShutUpandRun says

    Couldn't agree with you more. When you live in a health conscious and healthy area it is downright shocking to go to places where people are inactive and overweight. A sad state of affairs.

    Thank you for your kind comment on my blog yesterday!!!!

  4. Running and living says

    When I first came to this country, I was shocked to see how big some people can be. ANd I gained 10lbs in 3 months. Then I got it. People here eat large portions, eat non stop (eating is part of all activities in the US, I had never thought of eating in front of the TV, or at movies before coming here), drive everywhere, and spend 75% of their day sitting. Sad, v sad!

  5. Ewa says

    Unfortunately fit people are a tiny minority in this country. And I agree that there are hardly any activities where there is no food. There are hardly any stores w/o food. Electronic and hardware stores carry snacks! Add to that advertising and residential areas designed for drivers and not for walkers or bikers and the results are tragic.
    BTW, that girl on the picture is fatter than both adults! Now that is child abuse!

  6. Teamarcia says

    A sad state of affairs indeed. I just read an article about a city that employed 'recess coaches' in school because kids don't know how to play actively anymore. unbelievable.

  7. Jeff - DangleTheCarrot says

    Amanda, My wife and I talk often about Columbia and how active people were in that area. Runners and Cyclists ruled the roost. And the reason we talk often about it is that living in Houston we notice the obesity problem here is so much worse. I really think the availability of all the gyms, pools, and paths through the CA is a big help and wish other areas of the country would adopt this! Good post!

  8. Cynthia O'H says

    We need to take our kids back to basics – away from processed foods and electronic devices. Remember the days when we would play outside until dark; now, I am saddened by the few kids I see outside playing when weather is great.

  9. AM-GoalsfortheWeek! says

    oh, again i SOO hear you. this is EXACTLY how i felt when i went to Disney on Ice as a Family. I was so used to our family race escapades…and then ventured to this, what both you and I experienced. it's crazy. that's why i'm also on board w/the jaime oliver food revolution too

  10. Julie says

    Hi Zippy,
    My hubby and I went out for dinner a few weekends ago and I just looked around seeing that almost every table had people who were at least 15 to 50 pounds overweight. I was thinking…oh my God, this is so frightening! My kids bring their own lunches to school and are very active. We limit soda and junk food and I try to make healthy meals. I can only hope that when they become adults that they will take some of what they learned about nutrition with them and also make healthy choices:) This was a great post…it gives us all something to think about.

  11. NY Wolve says

    Tonight on CNBC was a special on obesity. Wow. It is terrible the toll that it takes on people, families and communities. I notice it more when I leave New York. Here, walking is part of life. Elsewhere, car culture rules. The bottom line isthat obesity causes more medical costs than smoking. We will have to do something about it.

  12. Just a Girl says

    It's getting just as bad over here in the UK. It makes me sad to see the utter rubbish people pile into their shopping trolley when I do my food shopping – all processed rubbish, junk food, fizzy drinks and little fresh food.

    I work for a GP and an ever increasing amount of patients are relying on those motorised scooters because they are too fat to walk.

  13. Terry Lonergan says

    Visiting Toronto and Buffalo in 1983 from the UK we were really shocked by the obesity even back then. But it is getting to be much the same in the UK now. Probably as with the U.S. we are polarising between those that care, exercise and monitor their weight and those that just don't see a connection between what they eat and their ever increasing size!
    But with 36000 running last Sunday's Manchester
    10K and a similar number in the London marathon looks like it isn't all bad. At 133 lbs. averaging 49 miles per week my weight is not an issue although I do monitor it for health reasons.

  14. Johann says

    Nice post and I can tell you it's not only America, it's everywhere. Here in SA the picture looks just like you described.

  15. Michelle says

    Totally agree. We thought the same thing when we took BW to Disney last year – just crazy. Everyone had those refillable drink cups with soda and we had to go out of our way to find fruit for BW (they do have it, but it isn't as readily available as the junk). We live in the land of fried chicken, so it isn't unusual here just very sad. That was one thing I enjoyed about running the half marathon – so awesome to see so many other people who cared about their bodies. I have a family member who constantly says – I can't lose weight while drinking sweet tea, eating out every night for dinner at a buffet type restaurant, and pie/cake for dessert.

  16. Anabela (Bela) Neves says

    As much as there is obesity here in Canada I find everytime I go over the boarder, especially in the south its so much more. I get amazed when we go to Disney and there are all these people in scooters…..one reason I like Disney is all the walking, its a great workout in a day you wouldn't normally workout. Have you tried finding healthy food at Disney? That is a mission onto itself…..very sad the poor food choices people make for themselves and their children.

  17. Erica says

    it breaks my heart in so many ways! It is something that I feel like I am freaking out about with my kids, (hopefully they don't see my freak out) But, I know being conscious is good my sweet girls choose an Apple and a Banana over breakfast at Mcdonalds the other day when they were with their Grandparents! Although, my family was shocked I could not have been more proud!! America needs a change!

  18. Matty O says

    My wife and I have this conversation all the time. I want to throw up when I see people anymore, its honestly disgusting. The sad part is that they are content or even happy with themselves…

    All you can do is lead by example and try to inform them of their ways.

    Great post!

  19. KC (my 140 point 6 mile journey) says

    It's beyond sad. It's a tragedy and only getting worse every year. In my line of work, I can't even begin to tell you how many people are diabetic…brought on by their own ignorance. They think it's part of the aging process; a normal aging process. If anything, it reinforces my beliefs in proper nutrition and exercise as a way of life, not just a temporary fix. America needs to get their kids off the video games and outside…moving more and eating less fast food. It all starts at home.

  20. Psyche says

    I totally know what you mean about how sitting around (i.e. working) can be so draining. My whole week has been like this so far. Ugh.

    Don't even get me started about overweight/ unhealthy kids. Between the kids running program and Scouts, I know I do my part, but it never feels like enough. I've lately been noticing more local newspaper attention on the subject, which is encouraging. Like it's not bad enough we're leaving the responsibility of fixing the planet on our kids- we're not even willing to give them them their health…really, really disgusting.

  21. TMB @ RACING WITH BABES says

    Love this post! I angers me when I see people who have obviously made the wrong choices over and over and then their kids are doing the same. NOT IN MY HOUSE! … Obviously, this is what I was getting at in my post yesterday …

  22. Big Daddy Diesel says

    I agree, it is saddening. At work, you see fast food bags on peoples desk, even at the gym, there are fast food resturants outside of it, you watch people get in their cars after working out and head to drive thru lane, I dont understand it. Society has just become lazy, in my opinion, if you shut down drive thrus and make people get out of their cars and walk in and order their Big Mac, society is just lazy enough they wont bother with McD's and go home and eat.

  23. Caratunk Girl says

    This is such a great post. It drives me nuts because really, I live in an area where I am a complete FREAK for being so active and choosing to eat healthy. It kills me to see kids so heavy. But it is the norm now (around here) and when you see a family that is "fit looking" it is…strange. But when the community doesn't support healthy living, it is really tough, you have to make a real effort to search out and make a healthy choice…IF we could just get people to start to take care of themselves better, I think health care would be less of an issue because people would be healthier…I am going off now, I better stop! Great topic.

  24. Paige (Two Runners And A Brown Dog) says

    It IS depressing! And the one thing that really agitates me is when people ask me what I do food wise, motivation wise, etc…and then say, "I could never do that," or "I don't have time for that." It seems like a quick fix is what people are looking for. It makes me so MAD that people won't take the time to take care of themselves! I think people are scared to take a leap of faith…scared to see what they could do if they tried. I guess I just get tired of reasons and excuses…I don't mean to sound harsh, but I am very hard on myself, and it irks me when people think that it comes easy…Great post, by the way!!!

  25. Maryland Girl aka Michelle says

    I can remember as a kid there were hardly any other kids that were obese or even just a wee bit fat. It is amazing today how many kids you see that are obese. So sad. My company recently opened an onsite fitness center, I encourage as many co-workers to go even if it is just to walk on the treadmill for 30 minutes every day. I forget sometimes that other people are not near as active as I am -and sometimes I am thinking I am not active enough! LOL. – When people act amazed that I do triathlon, etc – I always say, "You can too! You just have to make that choice."

  26. Emz says

    Could not agree more.

    We seem to travel quite a bit [in and out of the country] —– it is amazing HOW MUCH fatter we [I use that term loosely] as Americans are in comparison.

    truly is sad. I taught a lesson on healthy eating last month to about 12 nine year olds. I'd say AT LEAST 7 of them were "over weight".

  27. Slomohusky says

    Is it me? Maybe it is? Yet, it seems we are ALL being a tad judgemental here. I am sorry, I guess I really don't look around me much thinking someone is fat (obese is a nice way to not say this word anymore) while at Disneyland, out to dinner, traveling or anywhere else. The tone of the comments here really amaze me. (By the way, unless you spoke to that women or man in the scooter – how do you know he/she is not from France, Denamrk or Germany instead of the USA).

    I am a runner. I keep myself in shape. I am not as lean as I was 15 years ago. Yet, I am in shape enough to run 5 going on 6 HM's in 8 months. Plus train for my first Full in 14 years. My wife is not a runner. She is maybe 40-50 pounds over what she wants to be. Yet, the last time we went to the Doc – she had better cholesterol and BP than me!

    Stop looking at the outside appearances of life and making rash judgements about everthing you see. Yes, we know medically defined obesity is an issue. I am 43, and it has been an issue every year I have been alive in our Country. Yet, taking a personal medical condition someone might have and then generally saying (or thinking) everyone I see is obese or fat is a road I would not go down. Even further I would never get "mad" or "irked" about it – just stop, relax and think maybe "I am the one, that needs to work on something."

    Lets just try to be a little more civil in our thoughts and expressions with regards to people we meet, or ones we just see and try to avoid because we think they are fat. Sorry the comments here are going a little too far on this important issue. It is a medical issue many face daily. Comments like these, or at least the tone of them – really don't help.

    They might make us who are not medically obese feel better about ourselves. Yet, they shun others socially. Making the issue even harder to educate/help people. In other words – be a little kinder in your thoughts and words. A kind example on healthy living is far better than harsh feelings/words about someones else's decisions on food and excerise. Keep it fun and positive folks.

  28. Laura says

    Great post, it's an important issue. It really maddens me when I see families of obese people where you know the children are just getting terrible nutrition, it's such an awful start to life.

  29. Char says

    What some parents do to their kids is child abuse. They're setting them up for a short life-time full of pain and illness

  30. Holly says

    What is hard is that we are up against the grain. Look at what foods are affordable. The unhealthy ones! In order to be healthy — which was normal 100 years ago, we must spend more on finding those foods. If you haven't seen Food Inc. yet you should watch it. Really eye-opening to our food industry and also the obesity epidemic.

  31. LMC says

    Great post! I agree and am concerned about the cost of obesity. I agree with NY Wolf, we're gonna have to do something at some point.

  32. Bethany + Ryan says

    it really is sad. think of how good we feel, ya know? imagaine if everyone felt that good?? the world would be a very different place! if an adult wants to make poor food choices, that sucks, but when they make poor choices for their kids, that just downright pisses me off.

    i refuse to go into Market Basket…honest to God, true story…last time i went in i left the store with high blood pressure, a rapid heart rate and i was breathing very heavy, i felt sick and i had to sit down when i got outside, i think i had a panic attack…i was SOOOOOO upset looking at all the JUNK in people's grocery carts. not to mention all the people i saw using food stamps to buy the garbage, i basically watched my tax-dollars get spent on ice cream, twickies and oreo cookies. i prefer whole foods, i'll pay more to not have an anxiety attack.

  33. Beth says

    Sometimes when we go places like Disney it kind of ruins the fun to see so many people being so unhealthy. I agree with Char that it is a kind of child abuse to let your kid become so obese.

  34. Julie says

    This comment is for Slomo. I am so sorry if my comment offended you. I consider you a blogger friend and I never meant to hurt you.

  35. misszippy says

    Yes, Slomo, I am not looking to offend here. Really I just want to emphasize health. I know people can be overweight and fit–however, I think that is the minority of overweight people. If you look at the stats–the huge increase in type 2 diabetes, the fact that the next generation will have a shorter life expectancy rate, and the cost of our healthcare, it's clear we as a culture need to do something about what's going on. As for the motorized scooters, etc., when you see who's in them–big, unhealthy looking people carrying 32-ounce sodas in their baskets–well, it's hard not to judge, rightly or wrongly so.

  36. ModernMom says

    It is a fast paced fast food world. I read somewhere that our generation of kids will be the first that will not out live their parents? Scary.

  37. Kenley says

    Oh my goodness, you have touched ground with an amazing topic I have not seen or read on a blog in a while. You read about the success of people losing weight, but never talk about the disastrous issue that is abundant here in the US. My wife is from the PH. When I visited there, I did not see ONE overweight person. They eat to live and consume the calories they need to live. I was driving through Lancaster, PA, and I passed an Olive Garden with tons of obese people outside waiting to eat. Shortly there after, I saw a Cow pasture with cows burying their heads in a trough. Hmmmmmm! What is sad is when you see kids as young as 3-4 that you know will have a problem,,,But when you see their parents, ….no hope abides because of the piss poor example. (pardon). A year ago, I myself could eat a full foot long sub at subway. Now, I can only eat 3-4 inches, not even a 6 inch before I am full. But here in the US, everything is geared towards eating unhealthy and a lot of it. I am in the transportation business. I know. lol. Once I saw a driver get a candy bar out of a vending machine in dispatch and ate it, then repeating 6 times. Thats about 1600 calories. Good God. Also, unfortunatly since I started buying more healthy stuff at the grocery, my weekly grocery bill also went up by half at least. This could be another reason why so many people are fat. It is cheaper to be fat (buying food wise) than to be healthy. I think I am done now. Sorry for the big ass (no pun intended, lol) comment. Take care. I am glad I am a runner now, that has lost 50 pounds now with 20 more to go though. Take care again, and thanks for getting me stirred up. lol

  38. Amanda - RunToTheFinish says

    So..I live in Miami where the average person looks like a model. Having moved here from KC, it BLEW MY MIND. In fact david and i have talked numerous times when we travel now about how fat america is getting because it's so much more noticeable when we leave

  39. Rad Runner says

    Totally depressing! I feel ya, all these people need is a taste of what its like to be healthy and how much different they cooould feel, but mass majority of them are not willing to bend over and taste it.

    I am so happy you get to go back home! Hooray! Hey, the sun came out! It was beautiful yesterday afternoon and all day today, you did that hu? The excitement from your trip home brought the sun out!
    xo Rad Runner

  40. Beginner Tri Baby says

    I totally agree. It is sad. It is also sad that I can't decide if I should send lunch to daycare for my 11 month old. I've seen the menu of food they feed the kiddos & I don't want most of it coming anywhere near her.

    The food they feed them and the lack of excercise they get….schools are just as bad if not worse. Regual PE & physical activity should not be sacrificed for academics. It is part of a healthy lifestyle & one most kids these days don't learn from their parents!

  41. The Happy Runner says

    So right on.
    The worst is little kids who are obese, through no fault of their own. I don't care what anyone says: Parents need to be in charge of what and how much their kids eat. And how much tv they watch/video games they play.

  42. Candice @ I Have Run says

    Too many members of my family are overweight and it makes me sad to think how it could impact their lives (and the lives of the people who love them). I hope I can set an example and teach my girls how to live healthy lives.

  43. Alison B., "Runbuggy" says

    I read Beginner Tri Baby's post about feeding her daughter in day care and she mentioned your post about unhealthy America. I'm a dietitian so I get totally fueled up over this topic. I saw a small baby in a shopping cart with his mom the other day shoving something like Cheerios in his mouth. That's not necessarily unhealthy, but here's one place where it starts: give your kid food to keep them happy while mommy shops. I saw the same thing with a kid in church. There are other ways to keep your kids content besides food. The same with Beginner Tri Baby's day care only serving juice. So many people are quick to give their kids juice — it's even in tons of baby books — this is really a shame. There is no reason babies and small children NEED juice. Once in a while there is room for everything. But kids drinking juice more than water is such a shame. Anyway, I could go on and on but I"ll write a post on my blog about this topic instead!!