According to the North Carolina Health and Wellness Trust, North Carolina ranks 5th in the nation for the highest rates of obesity in children. 57% of all North Carolinians were either overweight or obese in 2007. 26% of youth aged 12-18 and 20% of children 5-11 were overweight or obese. As with all other states in this nation, these numbers have continued to rise in the past 5 years. This alarming and has far reaching consequences for these individuals, their families, the Cape Fear community and our economy.
Join the Cape Fear Food Revolution to get involved and help reverse these trends in Cape Fear!
Research has shown that overweight and obese individuals suffer from a host of health problems, miss more days of work and school due to illness, spend more money on health care, live shorter lives and experience disadvantages socially, economically and emotionally. Being overweight or obese dramatically increases your risk for chronic diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, and certain forms of cancer, among others.
We can’t keep pointing fingers at the individuals and blaming them for their condition. The obesity epidemic has been created by a lifestyle that we all share. Long commutes, long days, stressful conditions, unfulfilling relationships, abundance of convenience foods, stores filled with boxed and canned foods stuffed with preservatives and additives, unhealthy animals shot up with antibiotics and growth hormone in the food supply, food deserts, absence of nutritional education, insufficient physical education and opportunity for outdoor exercise. We are all living together in a culture that doesn’t just make unhealthy options available, but actually interferes with our attempts to improve health and wellbeing! In a pinch, if you need a healthy snack and aren’t at home, it can be nearly impossible to find! And when you shop for healthy foods at home, you are confronted with aisles and aisles of pre-packaged, processed foods.
We have to stand together to create an abundance of healthy opportunities in daily living to flood out the opportunities for illness. To turn around the obesity trend and the accompanying health crisis in Cape Fear, we need to join forces to make healthier habits easier, more affordable and more accessible.
While many of these problems are large-scale issues with farming, food production, food distribution and misinformation, these large scale issues do not need to be overcome with large scale efforts and deep pocketed funding. The most effective way to combat these problems is with small scale changes, repeated, shared and implemented on a daily basis. Parents, teachers, food service workers, principals, neighbors, brothers, sisters, friends, grandparents, business owners, professionals … We all have opportunities every day to choose health or to choose illness.
Let’s encourage each other to choose health, and if we are in a position to, let’s work to ensure the healthy options are more accessible, more affordable and more convenient than the alternatives. The truth is, we are not really choosing convenience when we choose fast food, snack food, sugar beverages and inactivity. We are postponing a massive inconvenience, a massive financial burden and an incredible financial and health crisis. Managing illness is the most inconvenient and expensive choice of all.
Here are some ways we can all start making a big difference with every day changes:
- Stand up for Real Food. Join the Cape Fear Food Revolution. Subscribe to the mailing list, Like the Facebook page. Connect with Jamie Oliver’s Community page. Get Involved! Being actively involved in the mission to create healthy opportunities makes you a health hero. We need you! Spread the word about the revolution to invite friends, coworkers and neighbors to future events.
- Prepare Real Food. Commit to cooking a meal at home one more day a week. Then increase it. Pack your lunch. Pack your child’s lunch. Teach a cooking class with the Food Revolution or Take a Cooking Class.
- Drink Water. Most people get too many calories from sugar laden drinks like soda and sports drinks. These drinks are not only linked to weight gain but also to poor dental hygiene.
- Eat Local. Commit to the NC 10% campaign and pledge to spend at least 10 percent of your food dollars locally.
- Eat organic. Pesticides and other contaminants are a real concern and are especially a concern for children. Download the EWG’s Dirty Dozen and Clean 15 and learn which foods are most contaminated by pesticides.
- Meatless Mondays. Pledge to go meatless on Mondays! Meat consumption is more expensive and linked to more disease than a plant based diet. Many do not want to give up meat entirely, but research has shown that decreasing meat consumption by 15% can increase your personal health and the health of the planet. Join Meatless Monday.
- Inspire someone else. Be an example for health. You don’t have to be perfect or skinny or vegetarian or a doctor or a farmer to be an example for improving health. Give up soda, pack a lunch, volunteer for a Food Revolution event, eat your lunch with kids at your local elementary, middle or high school and talk to the kids about what they are eating and how they can make healthier choices. Bring oranges and water to your child’s sports events and practices. Carry your own water bottle. Learn to cook! When you stand up for Real Food, you show that you care and you are committed to investing in a healthy Cape Fear.
- Volunteer. We will have many opportunities this year for you to get involved. Teach a cooking class. Spend time in a class room talking to students about good food and exercise. Create or care for a community garden.
“To the world you may be just one person, but to one person you may be the world.” Brandi Snyder
By standing together, the small changes we commit to will add up to a big difference in our community and in our own lives. We can get healthier foods in schools. We can inspire kids to choose better foods and more vegetables. We can help busy families eat more meals at home. We can insist on healthier food options on menus in local restaurants. We can build gardens. We can eat local. We can invest in our community and our future by changing our health prospects one meal at a time.