Senate states obvious, offers sound solutions
Tuesday, April 22, 2014 12:35 AM
Not to take anything away from our state lawmakers here, but it really is a shame that they -- and other lawmaking bodies across the country -- find themselves compelled to recognize the younger generation’s general largesse by way of a resolution. The Senate has not weighed in on the topic to the point of banning certain foods and putting restrictions on the size of drinks that can be sold, but its April 8 resolution does seem to state the obvious: We have a lot of fat children and their general health and well-being is at great risk.
But the state senators behind the resolution are not merely stating the obvious, and they’re not peeking into people’s cupboards and pantries. They are, however, trying to raise awareness and, more important, encourage better habits, such as exercise.
Greenwood’s own state senators, Floyd Nicholson and Billy O’Dell, are on board with the initiative and see the importance of setting examples, encouraging healthy habits. Nicholson also recognizes the fact that simply modeling good habits and talking about eating right is not enough. There are people in our state, specifically in our corner of the state, who simply do not have the ways and means of regularly eating properly balanced meals. Thus, Nicholson said it is necessary to stress the need for children to be engaged in physical activities that promote better health and proper weight. He is right, of course, but we would do well not to give up entirely on the eating habits of families with limited means. While they might not be shopping for and buying natural and organic foods, there are a tremendous number of ways education can be provided that promotes overall better eating habits, to include recipes, food choices and the like without turning meal preparation into a science class. Schools, DSS, nonprofits and even churches can provide materials and, in some cases, maybe even provide teaching in classroom settings.
Still, the overriding sentiment expressed by the state Senate through its resolution is not for naught. To some, it might seem like so much meddling a la New York mayor Michael Bloomberg’s efforts to regulate sizes of soft drinks, but it is what it is. We apparently live in a time when the obvious is not so obvious anymore, a time in which we have become attuned to our elected leaders assuming the roles we should assume for ourselves, or, in the case of childhood obesity, the roles that parents should assume.
While we do not favor government intervention in so many aspects of our lives, such as what we choose to eat or drink, we do recognize the rules we live by at home are not necessarily the same ones we live by when in school. So perhaps that is an area where our government and school leaders can and should extend a little reach and exercise a little more control. If a school can enforce a dress code, it should be able to enforce a diet code of sorts. No, we are not suggesting all soft drinks be eliminated, or that lunches never contain pizzas, burgers or french fries. However, healthier choices can and should be made available, along with education on better eating habits and exercise.
Perhaps if the learning is not already being instilled at home, it can be gleaned in school and trickle back down to the home. There are no easy answers, but in this case, we can’t blame the state Senate for at least trying to heighten awareness and, at the very least, encouraging healthy eating and more active lifestyles. That’s better than just chewin’ the fat about some inane subject.