I will admit writing about greening a community might seem boring to quite a few of you. However, more than quite a few of you have voiced major concerns when it comes to the health of your children and grandchildren.
A growing number of studies have documented the magnitude of obesity in children and it is now official: childhood obesity has become an epidemic in Chicago’s Black and Hispanic communities. Sure, poverty has a lot to do with this runaway concern but not eating healthy, not exercising, and not getting the right amount of sleep are culprits too. From September 2002 to April 2003 the Survey Research Laboratory of the University of Illinois at Chicago conducted a survey identifying obstacles in children’s health. Of the 501 children surveyed from Humboldt Park, North Lawndale, Roseland, South Lawndale, West Town and Norwood Park (average age 7.5 years old), the occurrence of obesity in the predominantly minority communities was two to three times higher than the U.S. as a whole. For example, children in South Lawndale, a predominantly Mexican community, were nearly three times as likely to be obese as children in Norwood Park (mostly White). In addition, children in Roseland, a predominantly Black community, were nearly five times as likely to be obese as children in Norwood Park. What makes matters worse is that a 2006 school-based survey in Chicago found that 23% of 1,208 children (ages 3-7 years) were obese entering school.
Obese children are likely to become obese adults, and according to an August 2008 TIME Environment article on unhealthy calories, “the American addiction to meat has contributed to an obesity epidemic currently afflicting more than two-thirds of our population.”
How do we remove this thorn in our side? Understand that cheap food is not cheap. “Micky D’s”, “BK”, “KFC”, “sliders”, chips and pop – are never consumed moderately. They’re “one-size up”, “32oz.”, “value meal”, “1,200 calories of chips” and fried, fried, fried, fried, and fried. There’s probably no nutritionist on this planet who would argue that quarter pound burgers, mounds of buttery mashed potatoes (with/without gravy), are what any person needs to stay healthy. It’s no surprise we’re fat. No one‘s asking you to become anorexic or punish yourself. We’re talking moderation here. You are the example for your children and your grandchildren. Here’s how to make it simple:
Cut back on meat in favor of greens and fruits;
Skip the corner store and look for an urban garden in your community;
Shop less at the fast food restaurant, but if you “must”, don’t “size up”, and order fruit or yogurt with your order;
Lay off the fried food in favor of baked, broiled or grilled;
There are quite a few farmers markets, urban agricultural farms (yes, even in the winter), and quality fresh food retailers around (no really). If not, make your corner store enjoy a profit or..go out of business. It’s up to you.