We Are Training Kids for Addiction in Schools and Day Cares Across America

There has been news all over the place about the dramatically rising rates of obesity, diabetes and pre-diabetes in kids.  These numbers have spiked 25% in the past 5 years.  As a mom, I do my best to give them healthy food, keep them active, encourage them to express themselves, teach them manners and responsibility.  I also want them to have balance and not be left out of birthday parties or events simply because their mom doesn’t want them eating junk food.  But in recent years the junk food, junk entertainment, junk relationship culture has gotten extreme.  It’s not just birthday parties with chicken nuggets and neon cake, or Halloween and Easter with the focus on candy and chocolate, but every day at school my kids are rewarded and treated with candy.  The school lunches are junk, the treats are junk, the parties are junk.  What, really, are we teaching our kids?  It’s a junk filled life.

SCHOOL

School is the foundation for learning. We battle over evolution vs. creationism and completely miss the boat on what the kids need to learn.  At some point, we need to get past how everything started and start worrying about how it will all end.  Right now, it looks like it’s going to end in obesity, diabetes, and cancer.

It’s common knowledge kids learn by example.  We talk of role models, imitation, role playing and yet we send our kids to school where they eat processed food at lunch with sugar infused milk and a super sized desert. Water breaks are limited to a  5 count at the fountain, every holiday and birthday is celebrated with a junk food feast and they are bribed for compliance and submission with candy at every turn.

To match this overconsumption of processed, high fat, high sugar crap, we’ve practically eliminated physical education with only 8% of elementary schools, 6.4% of middle schools, and 5.8% of high schools provide daily physical education to all of its students. (School Health Policies and Practices Study)

As a working mother, I have depended on the responsible care-taking of professional day cares and schools to ensure my kids are safe, healthy, nurtured and educated while I am obligated elsewhere.  While I know there is very little I can do to influence the curriculum at the kids schools outside of changing schools (which I did often) I have always been uncomfortable with the way candy is used to incentivize and reward the kids..

We are selling our kids short setting them up for disease, frustration and sickness by using junk food and candy to control, reward and celebrate them.

It is well documented that sugar is addictive. And the way sugar is used to control, reward and celebrate the kids, is the same pattern of behavior used to create addiction in the brain.  Studies have been conducted on animals and humans showing how the reward centers in the brain respond to addictive substances through repetition and reward.

Further, using treats takes away the value of much of the learning.   The focus becomes the treat and not the behavior.  Children no longer learn discipline and responsibility but are instead trained to value prizes and competition. Add to the fact that sugar has no nutritional value, causes tooth decay and hyperactivity and is now suspected to be toxic and addictive and what are we doing but setting our kids up for addictive tendencies, tooth decay and obesity?

“Opiods are chemicals in the brain which allow us to feel pleasure. Foods high in fat and sugar stimulate the release of opiods.”  Weight of the Nation, HBO.

  • Sugar is addictive
  • Obesity is rising faster than we can keep up with it
  • This generation will live a shorter life than their parents
  • Our youth are being diagnosed with adult diseases like hypertension and heart disease as young as 10 years old
  • Diabetes rising 25% in the past 5 years alone
  • Eating disorders are on the rise
  • Addiction is on the rise
  • Poor health and nutrition is robbing children and families of their health and their future
With these devastating statistics, we are clearly doing something very very wrong in how we care for and raise our children.   With kids spending up to 10 hours a day, 5 days a week, starting as early as 6 weeks old in a day care setting; we simply can’t write off bad nutrition, bad disciplining, candy incentives and junk food celebrations as an unfortunate part of the package. All those little things add up to a great big obesity and diabetes epidemic that is robbing an entire generation of its future.

Stand Up for Real Food! Join the Cape Fear Food Revolution!

Cape Fear Food Revolution

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Eat Local.  Commit to the NC 10% campaign and pledge to spend at least 10 percent of your food dollars locally.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.

Epidemic of Malnutrition in America

The most pressing nutrition problem in this country is malnutrition! Malnutrition in the US comes in the form of “too much” rather than too little – too much saturated fat, too many hydrogenated fats, too much sodium, too much refined sugar, too many calories.

In addition, the nutrient deficiencies created by our modern diet cause the body to be more prone to viruses, disease, infections and so on. In short, we are overfed and undernourished.  The foods we eat, even when we are making good choices, lack the proper nutrient content because of the way we harvest, store and prepare our foods.

The Crisis of Chronic Disease in America

According to the Centers for Disease Control, “Lack of physical activity, poor nutrition, tobacco use, and excessive alcohol consumption – known as modifiable risk behaviors – are responsible for illness, suffering, early death, and chronic disease.”

According to the Centers for Disease control; “Chronic diseases are among the most common, costly, and preventable of all health problems in the U.S.”  Chronic diseases account for up to 75% of health costs per year.  And despite this huge financial investment, there is no expectation of cure for these diseases.

  • 7 out of 10 deaths among Americans are from Chronic Diseases.
  • 1 out of every 2 adults has at least one chronic illness.
  • 1 in 4 children have chronic diseases
  • Heart disease, cancer and stroke account for more than 50% of all deaths each year.

These numbers are projected to increase by more than 1% per year by 2030, resulting in an estimated chronically ill population of 171 million people.

All of these chronically sick people have a huge financial impact on our economy. Chronic illnesses  take up about 75% of health care costs each year. The most common chronic diseases (heart disease, diabetes, stroke and cancer)  are costing the U.S. more than $1 trillion per year– which is expected to increase to $6 trillion by the middle of the century.  As individuals, this is straining our bodies and our bank accounts as the number one reason people go bankrupt is medical expense.

The good news is that up to 90% of these chronic diseases are preventable. That means you are in control of your health.  It also means: It’s not genetics.  You are not destined to suffer from these diseases because your father or your grandmother did.  Choices about what we eat, how much we move and what we put in our bodies predict our future health or illness.    And if you are one of the 1 in 2 who already suffers from a chronic condition, you know how important it is to prevent the next one, because statistics show, once you have one chronic disease  you are at a higher risk for developing others.

The biggest factors that contribute to developing chronic disease are poor nutrition, lack of exercise, and environmental toxins. It doesn’t take drastic changes.  You make important progress toward improving your health by taking natural vitamins, exercising 30 minutes a day, and reducing your exposure to toxins by eating organic and using non-toxic cleaning products in your home.

Do 3 Things to Improve Your Nutrition

It can be overwhelming to change our habits and when it comes to improving our health we soon realize that our habits aren’t the only things that need to change, but also our attitudes, our shopping patterns, our routines and our whole lifestyle! Once this hits us, we are prone to want to give up. It seems overwhelming and even impossible. But, it is possible to make big changes with small steps. Each of these three things will improve your health, save you money, help change your attitude toward health and best of all, will get momentum in the right direction. The best thing about making your lifestyle more healthy is that it takes on a life of it’s own. We want to feel better, have more energy, have restful sleep, enjoy our time with friends and family. When we see how small changes in one part of our life can impact and improve all parts of our life, while also giving us undeniable evidence that it is working through energy, reduced stress and anxiety, better sleep we want to continue on the path and adopt more healthy habits. So, if you want to make health a priority, try changing these three things this week. Or try changing 1 of the 3. Any step in the right direction is a step.

Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase. — Martin Luther King Jr.

1. Eat at Home

The benefits of eating at home are well documented and include saving money, improving nutrition, and smarter kids!

When you eat at home, you are in control of ingredients and portions. You can limit use of processed foods, easily store leftovers for the next day and easily control portions to reduce over-eating. And while for many, “time is money” there are still ways to cut down on the time it takes to cook at home without giving in to the convenience of eating out. You can subscribe to meal planning lists to cut down on your planning time, order groceries only, you can even order organic and non-GMO foods online and have them delivered to your home.

A study published in the March 2000 Archives of Family Medicine showed that families eating meals together “every day” or “almost every day” generally consumed higher amounts of important nutrients such as calcium, fiber, iron, vitamins B6 and B12, C and E, and consumed less overall fat, compared to families who “never” or “only sometimes” eat meals together.

According to the British Columbia Medical Association, children who eat at least one meal a day with their families in the home develop more nutritious eating habits, are more likely to have higher grades, better vocabulary and improved communication skills.

2. Stop Drinking Soda and Energy Drinks

In addition to the well known link to increased risk of obesity and diabetes, soda is also linked to kidney stones and other renal problems. In a study published in the journal Epidemiology, the team compared the dietary habits of 465 people with chronic kidney disease and 467 healthy people. After controlling for various factors, the team found that drinking two or more colas a day — whether artificially sweetened or regular — was linked to a twofold risk of chronic kidney disease.

Risks of caffeine poisoning, irregular heart beat, hallucinations brought on by consumption of energy drinks has been well publicized in recent weeks as the popularity of energy drinks has taken off. Some organizations are moving toward regulating caffeinated drinks

“There’s many physiological effects large quantities of caffeine can have. Increasing blood pressure, heart and respiratory rate. In some, it can lead to cardiac arrhythmias, and hyperactivity and anxiety in young people.” Bruce Goldberger, professor and director of toxicology at the University of Florida College of Medicine.

There’s no benefit to soda and energy drinks and a lot of risk. For hydration, drink water. For variety, drink green tea for its antioxidant and stimulant properties or drink something like all-natural Performance for flavor and hydration.

3. Eat less meat

Reducing your meat consumption will improve your cardiovascular health. Consumption of meat has long been linked to high cholesterol, high blood pressure and a greater risk for diabetes and cancer. Recent research from Britain shows the links between consumption of meat and meat products with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Meat is difficult to digest and can take longer to process and remove from your body than plants and fibrous foods. Because meats also generally contain a high number of toxins, this means the toxins stay in your system longer too giving them more opportunity to be absorbed into your colon, your intestines and your blood stream. Dioxin, one of the deadliest toxins, is concentrated in meat at levels 22 times what are safe, according to the EPA. As early as 1961, The AMA journal stated that 90+% of heart disease can be prevented with a Vegetarian diet.

You don’t have to go vegetarian to realize the health benefits of reduced meat consumption. Simply reduce your meat consumption by preparing one vegetarian dinner a week. Once you see the incredible variety that can be found in vegetarian meals, you may decide to plan them more regularly.

Do 3 Things to Improve Your Nutrition

It can be overwhelming to change our habits and when it comes to improving our health we soon realize that our habits aren’t the only things that need to change, but also our attitudes, our shopping patterns, our routines and our whole lifestyle!  Once this hits us, we are prone to want to give up.  It seems overwhelming and even impossible.  But, it is possible to make big changes with small steps.  Each of these three things will improve your health, save you money, help change your attitude toward health and best of all, will get momentum in the right direction.  The best thing about making your lifestyle more healthy is that it takes on a life of it’s own.  We want to feel better, have more energy, have restful sleep, enjoy our time with friends and family.  When we see how small changes in one part of our life can impact and improve all parts of our life, while also giving us undeniable evidence that it is working through energy, reduced stress and anxiety, better sleep we want to continue on the path and adopt more healthy habits. So, if you want to make health a priority, try changing these three things this week.  Or try changing 1 of the 3.  Any step in the right direction is a step.

Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase. — Martin Luther King Jr.

1.  Eat at Home

The benefits of eating at home are well documented and include saving money, improving nutrition, and smarter kids!

When you eat at home, you are in control of ingredients and portions.  You can limit use of processed foods, easily store leftovers for the next day and easily control portions to reduce over-eating.  And while for many, “time is money” there are still ways to cut down on the time it takes to cook at home without giving in to the convenience of eating out.  You can subscribe to meal planning lists to cut down on your planning time, order groceries only, you can even order organic and non-GMO foods online and have them delivered to your home.

A study published in the March 2000 Archives of Family Medicine showed that families eating meals together “every day” or “almost every day” generally consumed higher amounts of important nutrients such as calcium, fiber, iron, vitamins B6 and B12, C and E, and consumed less overall fat, compared to families who “never” or “only sometimes” eat meals together.

According to the British Columbia Medical Association, children who eat at least one meal a day with their families in the home develop more nutritious eating habits, are more likely to have higher grades, better vocabulary and improved communication skills.

2. Stop Drinking Soda and Energy Drinks

In addition to the well known link to increased risk of obesity and diabetes, soda is also linked to kidney stones and other renal problems. In a study published in the journal Epidemiology, the team compared the dietary habits of 465 people with chronic kidney disease and 467 healthy people. After controlling for various factors, the team found that drinking two or more colas a day — whether artificially sweetened or regular — was linked to a twofold risk of chronic kidney disease.

Risks of caffeine poisoning, irregular heart beat, hallucinations brought on by consumption of energy drinks has been well publicized in recent weeks as the popularity of energy drinks has taken off.  Some organizations are moving toward regulating caffeinated drinks

“There’s many physiological effects large quantities of caffeine can have. Increasing blood pressure, heart and respiratory rate. In some, it can lead to cardiac arrhythmias, and hyperactivity and anxiety in young people.” Bruce Goldberger, professor and director of toxicology at the University of Florida College of Medicine.

There’s no benefit to soda and energy drinks and a lot of risk.  For hydration, drink water.  For variety, drink green tea for its antioxidant and stimulant properties or drink something like all-natural Performance for flavor and hydration.

3. Eat less meat

Reducing your meat consumption will improve your cardiovascular health. Consumption of meat has long been linked to high cholesterol, high blood pressure and a greater risk for diabetes and cancer.  Recent research from Britain shows the links between consumption of meat and meat products with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.  Meat is difficult to digest and can take longer to process and remove from your body than plants and fibrous foods.  Because meats also generally contain a high number of toxins, this means the toxins stay in your system longer too giving them more opportunity to be absorbed into your colon, your intestines and your blood stream.  Dioxin, one of the deadliest toxins, is concentrated in meat at levels 22 times what are safe, according to the EPA.  As early as 1961, The AMA journal stated that 90+% of heart disease can be prevented with a Vegetarian diet.

You don’t have to go vegetarian to realize the health benefits of reduced meat consumption.  Simply reduce your meat consumption by preparing one vegetarian dinner a week.  Once you see the incredible variety that can be found in vegetarian meals, you may decide to plan them more regularly.

Malnutrition in the United States

The most pressing nutrition problem in this country is malnutrition. Malnutrition in the US comes in the form of “too much” rather than too little – too much saturated fat, too many hydrogenated fats, too much sodium, too much refined sugar, too many calories.

In addition, the nutrient deficiencies created by our modern diet cause the body to be more prone to viruses, disease, infections and so on. In short, we are overfed and undernourished.  The foods we eat, even when we are making good choices, lack the proper nutrient content because of the way we harvest, store and prepare our foods.

According to Johns Hopkins Children’s Center, “Malnutrition occurs in people who are either undernourished or overnourished. Today, in the U.S., more children suffer from malnutrition due to dietary imbalances rather than nutritional deficiencies.”

According to the Mayo Clinic, malnutrition is a very serious concern for elderly Americans and “is often caused by a combination of physical, social and psychological issues” and can lead to “various health concerns, including:

  • A weak immune system, which increases the risk of infections
  • Poor wound healing
  • Muscle weakness, which can lead to falls and fractures”

According to Harvard Global Health Institute Director Sue Goldie, the Roger Irving Lee Professor of Public Health; “Nutrition sits amid three major problems of global health: the unfinished agenda of reducing malnutrition and infectious disease, the growth of chronic diseases like heart disease and diabetes (many of which have a dietary component) in developing nations, and globalization issues, where not only information and manufactured goods are exchanged, but also dietary habits and fast foods.”

According to Eileen Kennedy in the Journal of Nutrition; “A global nutrition transition has and is occurring on a continuum. While problems of under-consumption and poor nutritional status continue to exist, increasingly problems of diet/chronic diseases are emerging as significant public health issues globally.”

Are you getting the nutrients you need?