As a general rule, I am fairly well behaved on Friday nights. Being short on sleep and hydration makes a Saturday morning run suck (not that I would know, ok maybe there was that one run…). If you are a television watcher like myself on Friday nights, you will know that there is some stimulating programming out there, although not suitable for the whole family, bow-bow-chica-bow-wow. But if you had seen the previews and heard the buzz chances are that you may have watched the new series Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution.
I have a bit of a soft spot for Jamie Oliver (something about the way he talks, not just the accent, he has that tongue thing going on when he talks) so I didn’t need to be convinced to watch, it was a given. For those who missed the premiere, the premise of the show is Jamie Oliver (aka The Naked Chef, but not really naked) leaves his family in England behind to start a food revolution in Huntington, West Virginia, recently named the unhealthiest city in America (by government statistics). He starts his food revolution in the cafeteria of Central City Elementary, his goal is to change the food the kids are eating, prove that the kids enjoy it and to do it on budget, and our hero has only one week to make the magic happen. Of course he is met with resistance, he is trying to change a town where half of the adults are considered obese. The trailer for tonight’s episode shows Jamie fighting the good fight with one night and one moment that will make his revolution even stronger (ABC, 9pm). You know I will be watching.
It isn’t just Huntington, West Virginia that face these problems, they exist in Canada as well. Some frightening statistics were released at the beginning of this year from the 2007-2009 Canadian Health Measures Survey and they didn’t just pertain to the adult population. Part of the survey compared the youth (children 6-19 years of age) of today to the youth of 1981. The results, “children are taller, heavier, fatter and weaker than in 1981”.
At the risk of dating myself, in 1981 I was ‘the youth’. Although we didn’t have to walk six miles to school (the claims of our parents’ generation), we did walk to and from school, we played team sports, we played outside afterschool, we ran and we rode our bikes everywhere. So what happened? Can we blame it on technology, the fast paced lifestyle of today, pre-packaged and convenience foods, drugs, crime or that are children are spoilt for choice? I don’t think so, but they do play a key role in our children’s lack of activity. Kay, so now I am getting all serious on you, but it is very serious when you think about what this means for Canada’s future. It means increased risk of disease, increased healthcare costs and decreased life expectancy. Their findings are not a shock to me, but when I see in black and white that my daughter’s life expectancy is shorter than mine, I am scared shitless.
So what are we going to do? The answer comes right from Jamie Oliver’s tongue, I mean mouth, with a little effort we can make massive difference. I am not saying that we should run around in a peapod costume like JO to make our kids eat veggies. But we should have fun with it, being healthy is fun…obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease are not fun. If you are reading this blog, chances are that you are already health conscious, but I think that we all have room to improve. So here it is, my April Challenge, let’s step it up peeps, I challenge you (and myself) to educate ourselves about what we are eating, read more labels, educate our families, eat 7-8 servings of fruit/veggies a day and get rid of the processed crap. What have we got to lose? Decreased risk of disease, healthcare costs, weight, body fat… I am more than ok with decreasing those.