Goshen News, Goshen, IN

December 13, 2012

We can do something about obesity


THE GOSHEN NEWS

—  Almost a third of Hoosiers are obese, a disturbing fact revealed in an annual ranking of the health of Americans by the states they live in.

The America’s Health Rankings list by the United Health Foundation, American Public Health Association and Partnership for Prevention is published each year. That list shows Indiana dropped four spots to 41st place among the states in health ratings. This is an abysmal spot for Hoosiers to be in.

The rankings also show that 30.8 percent of Hoosiers are obese and about 29 percent of Indiana’s population leads a sedentary lifestyle, which puts them at risk for the early onset of many diseases. This is a trend that has been growing for decades. In 1990 Indiana had an obesity rate of just 14.5 percent, according to the rankings. Now obesity has doubled in the state’s population. Why? Because our work and play have become less physical. Many Hoosiers now work at computer cubicles where their heart rates only climb when there’s a software crash. And, more importantly, childhood games of baseball, kick-the-can, tag and swimming have been replaced by online gaming and an endless and mindless lineup of reality TV shows.

The solution is simple — modify our behavior. But as anyone who has tried to change their sedentary lifestyle to one of more activity knows, that is easy to say but difficult to achieve. Our pattern of employment and chores at home leaves only small windows of opportunity to exercise. So, planning and perseverance are the keys to making a change.

For our children, the solution lies in our schools and good examples being set by parents. We know that curriculum changes leave little wiggle room for physical education in schools these days, but we believe that teaching a healthy lifestyle may be the most important lesson to be learned in elementary school. Once children are led to an active physical lifestyle, they may continue on that path into adulthood. Being both healthy and well-educated is a combination that will help young adults reach their greatest career potential.

And about that example-setting thing — don’t wait for the coming new year to make a resolution to exercise more. Begin today. Forego the latest TV installment for the hunt for Sasquatch and take the kids to the park, or go to the church gym and shoot baskets or do some jumping jacks, or maybe a short walk will lead to longer ones in coming days. Whatever you choose, make sure it’s fun, doable and includes family and friends so there is mutual support and interest.

Maybe the Goshen community can start a new trend in Indiana, one that shows a declining rate of obesity and a boost in healthy lifestyles.