Fat Girl on a Bicycle
Those who know me well probably assumed by the title of this composition that I was making reference to the music of Queen and the songs 'Fat Bottomed Girls' and 'Bicycle Race.' Alas - I wish my topic was of such a frivolous nature. It is not.
I saw a young girl today riding her bicycle, very slowly, down the cracked and uneven sidewalk that runs sporadically parallel to the street my apartment complex sits one block from. I drive this road every single day and I have never seen this child until today.
Brown hair, sickly white skin (as though she has never spent more than 5 minutes outside the confines of her home or school), seven (maybe eight) years old and morbidly obese for her age - I applauded her efforts to navigate the bicycle down the crumbling concrete and I felt so sorry for her ... starting off life as "the fat kid."
Childhood obesity is a growing plague in the United States. Children who should be happy and carefree are burdened with the stress and life long slavery accompanied by diseases that are part and parcel of the whole overweight gig - like diabetes. Yes, some of this is genetic but that percentage has dropped.
I think back to my elementary school years. I was always the skinniest kid in school, but I can only remember two students during my early education who were considered fat - and both were smaller than this girl on her bicycle. One was an Indian boy (Not Native American - Indian. Remember - this was in Kenya.) and, to be honest, if I had grown up consuming Indian food every day I might not have been the skinniest kid in school. Good stuff. I have no idea what he looks like today or what became of him. The other was an American boy who grew out of his weight problems by high school and turned into a bona fide hottie and athlete. Now, he is happily married with beautiful children of his own. These were the "fat kids" in our school and things were harder on them. It was more difficult to sit in a school desk. There was no swinging upside down from the playground equipment. Physical Education (P.E. Class) was hard. They lost every race they were forced to run in the annual school Sports Day. Stuff was just more difficult.
It was evident that riding the bicycle was, indeed, difficult for the girl I saw today - but she was still trying and she was alone. There were no friends in sight.
The weight plague is expanding and, unfortunately, it is exploding among the children we should be protecting. Life for obese individuals is becoming more and more difficult in this country.
Waistlines continue to grow.
Tolerance continues to wane.
"Obesity now contributes to the death of more than 360,000 Americans a year. The incidence of childhood obesity is now at epidemic levels. Alarm bells are going off all over the place." ~Tom Harkin
I'm not saying I have all the answers. I don't. I do, however, have children who - for the most part - make wise decisions considering the items they put into their mouths. They would rather drink milk or water than a soda. This has always been - even when they were littler. They shock waitresses in dining establishments by requesting broccoli or applesauce as opposed to french fries as a side dish. They were raised to make better choices. I never forced the issue of healthy eating, nor did my ex-husband, but we made sure the good foods were always available ... we also, for a time, kept things in the house that were not so good. In recent months I have removed potato chips, pop-tarts and the like from my pantry. In their place are apples and oranges and fruit cups and yoghurt and granola and carrot sticks. We only have whole wheat bread. I've converted all the pasta to whole wheat. We don't even eat canned vegetables ... everything is fresh or steamed. I made a lot of changes. Reaction? Well, there was no weeping and gnashing of teeth. In fact, the more than excited response from both was, "Is all this stuff for us?" Cha-ching! Jackpot for mom! Proof positive that giving your kids a healthy lifestyle is, indeed, possible.
"The older you get, the tougher it is to lose weight because by then, your body and your fat are really good friends. ~Unknown