It used to be said that the "eyes are the window to a person's soul." That may still be true, but I can tell you that the "belly is a window to a person's eating habits." Who among us hasn't joked at some point about the fact that some men "get pregnant" right along with their wives, choosing to overeat, in the name of keeping their wives who are eating for two, company. And certainly we can easily spot the beer guzzling guy, with his rotund stomach that enters the room before he does. Well if you go into a random school these days, you are likely to see the soda pop belly. Kids carrying significant amounts of extra weight in their mid-section.
It does not take rocket science to explain a basic health reality. Our kids are moving a lot less during their waking hours and they are consuming too many calories. If you train your child to drink juice every time they are thirsty, they will switch over to soda in time, or simply add it to their juice fix. Water will never be on their radar. If you keep your kids on whole milk or even 2% milk with several servings a day, on top of juice and/or soda consumption they can easily consume an extra several hundred calories per day more than they need. So it wasn't surprising for me to read the other day, in a science interview, that a doctor visiting a middle school had noted the equivalent of a beer belly among a significant number of kids. And in this case, the large belly that we normally associate with middle age beer guzzlers, is an equal opportunity finding among both girls and boys. That belly more than likely foretells insulin resistance, high total cholesterol, higher blood pressure and a host of other warning signs that precede full blown serious health conditions.
The dire predictions that suggest that these kids are at risk of experiencing a host of health conditions far too early on in their adult lives is juxtaposed with parents who say they are doing their best, manufacturers who refuse to radically change the way they advertise to kids, neighborhoods that are not safe for outdoor play, a technology environment that wants to make us more sedentary and health care workers who cannot seem to find a way to get significant numbers of the populace on a road to long term better nutrition and fitness habits. If you look at patients who survive a heart attack, you will find:
- Some patients, who were living as healthfully as possible and still unfortunately suffered from this cardiac event, though it may have been delayed thanks to their healthy living efforts. They may have also survived the heart attack because of their healthy living efforts. They continue to engage in a healthy lifestyle.
- Some patients who are now out of fear "reformed for life" and who will now have exemplary eating and exercise habits
- Some who will initially be inspired (mostly by fear) to live healthfully and by 6 months time will slowly slide back to less healthy habits
- Some who will make small healthy changes
- Some who will assume, "if I have another heart attack I will survive again."
So people faced with the same health issue, can have huge differences in the ways they react. The same holds true when you are showing signs of a pre-condition. You can assume that you look like lots of your friends and lose perspective on the fact that you are seriously overweight; you can say it's just too hard to change my ways; you can deny/ignore the reality. Soda pop bellys are a clear sign of heightened risk of developing some worrisome health conditions. So what will it take to get kids and parents to "recognize and react?"
Published On: October 24, 2011