Friday, June 03, 2005

A quick rant

After having two children, I'm carrying more pounds than I'd like these days. I was also born in West Virginia and still have plenty of relatives who live there. So this headline caught my attention immediately: W.Va. Sends Out SOS for Obesity Problem

The good news is, West Virginia realizes it has a serious problem and is taking a serious approach to try and deal with it, by calling in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. They are treating obesity in the state (consistently one of the top three for obesity) as a disease.

The bad news is, the world seems to have taken leave of reality, as demonstrated by this quote from Michael Meit, director of the Center for Rural Health Practice at the University of Pittsburgh at Bradford (emphasis added):

"The issue of food selection in rural areas is a big challenge," Meit said. "They tend to have smaller grocery stores with less selection, and exercising outdoors can be difficult because of the terrain and there are no malls for walking."

What?! People can't exercise because they don't have malls? I guess the thousands of years of human history in which people got plenty of exercise in the outdoors was just a fluke.

If this is the kind of sense our scientists and researchers are using, is it any wonder our country is in the shape (physically and intellectually) that it currently is?

11 comments:

bevjackson said...

I'm sorry, but that's actually FUNNY. Is he joking? A mall to walk? That's reserved (I think) for the very elderly who can't traverse the roads and streets due to infirmities, and inability to read the red lights, etc. hehe...I suppose I should go to the mall.

I'm now reading Dr. Phil's book on weight loss. I'll let you know if there's any surprises. I've lost a total of 11 lbs. so far and I can tell you that it has been s l o w....

P. A. Moed said...

I used to live across from a mall. In the morning when I walked my dog around the mall parking lot (probably 2+ miles), there were cars pulling up with "walking couples"...in sneakers and sweatsuits, getting ready to power walk around the mall. I had the same reaction you did...Are they kidding?

Hamel said...

I had to read the quote twice. Because there's no mall? Funny, but Kenyans are among the world's greatest runners because they run everywhere growing up. To school. From school. Run because it's fun. Think of how different that is in our culture.

Ginger said...

Food selection in rural areas isn't the primary challenge. It goes more to costs and custom. Generations have passed down their meat-and-potatoes and bread habits, corn and peas as common vegetable dishes, and desserts as the loving final touch to an already starchy menu. Most smaller groceries aren't going to feature unusual fresh vegetables, and most smaller communities aren't going to run right out and purchase food they don't know how to prepare.

As for exercising outdoors, we're talking folks with serious obesity issues -- weak ankles, stress fractures just from walking, shortness of breath and sometimes even chest pains from exercising in "the outdoors." Uneven road surfaces, nonexistent sidewalks in many cases, high humidity in some areas, and so on, all add up when you're trying to walk for exercise.

But I do see the humor in the man's comment about "no malls." God only knows that generations of mankind were unable to walk until malls were invented...

Sharon Hurlbut said...

Bev,

I agree, it is funny, in a very pathetic sort of way. I actually used to walk at the mall with my newborn daughter when we lived in Arizona, but that's because it was 110 degrees outside and I was recovering from a c-section. Speaking of walking and losing weight, I've really got to get my act together... where's the mall? (just kidding)

Sharon Hurlbut said...

Patti,
Where they older couples, at least? Aside from extreme weather, like the heat of Arizona summers, I can't imagine preferring to walk in the mall rather than outside.

Sharon Hurlbut said...

Hamel,
That's an excellent point. In our culture, leisure time has always been something of a status symbol, hasn't it? And now it seems we equate leisure with things that are minimally physical, like watching tv and going to the mall. Imagine how different it would be if we had to walk or bike everywhere.

Sharon Hurlbut said...

Ginger,
You're very right about eating habits that have been passed down from more active, less health-conscious times. Not only did the 'mall' comment strike me as dumb, but I know from my family's personal experience that growing up in rural West Virginia does not equate to lacking the opportunity for exercise. I definitely see what you mean about the seriously obese or elderly, but in terms of preventing obesity, I'm not sure you could find a better terrain for getting a good workout. My parents grew up in rural areas (my dad literally lived 'up the holler') and had no trouble being active in the hilly, wooded outdoors. I think part of the problem is that while lifestyles have changed in terms of activity levels, food habits have not. Blaming the problem on a lack of malls when it more likely has to do with too much time spent sitting on the couch watching tv and eating biscuits and gravy.

Nigela said...

One of my favorite moments in the documentary "Supersize Me" is when someone is telling Morgan (?) how hard it is for parents to compete with the media when trying to get their children to eat healthily and M says something to the extent of "That's why I'm going to punch my kids in the face everytime we pass a McDonalds."

Pradeep said...

Just chanced upon your blog. Interesting. Hope to come back frequently. It has always struck me why in America, obesity is a big problem. When it comes to exercise it's a myth that it has to be outdoors and it has to last a long time. Just a few minutes, but more frequent and regular workouts, mostly stretching and deep breathing, should be fine... That is what I have felt... Whether there are malls around or not..!!!!

Sharon Hurlbut said...

Hi Pradeep - I'm glad you dropped by. I agree, Americans are hung up on the idea of 'exercise' in large, intense chunks, while it would probably be far more beneficial to have a slightly increased activity level throughout the day. We're far, far too sedentary.