Sunday, November 02, 2008

Diabetes, obesity ... television?

I posted an interesting article over on Bodog's new 00Diabetic Blog and commented on my own Thrifty Dieter's Blog about how Americans might well be eating themselves to death.

New cases of diabetes have almost doubled in 10 years and they feel like it's because we, as a nation, are getting more and more sedentary, and fatter and fatter as a result.


Is it bad parenting?  Indifferent parenting? Nothing at all to do with parenting and families?

Is it our attitudes?  Our feelings of entitlement?  Our "I deserve the very best even though I've done nothing to earn it" view that causes us to buy cars and televisions we can't afford, enormous houses we don't need?  Or perhaps our disposable lifestyles that tells us it's OK to throw away perfectly good clothes even though we drive past a shelter or thrift store on the way to work every day, cook huge amounts of food we cannot possibly eat then dump it in the disposal, 'upgrade' to a new car ever 2-4 years though there's nothing wrong with the old one, and even cut our spouses loose because, surely, there's someone better out there.

It is television?  Computers?  Nowadays families don't sit down to eat together and can't seem to run to the store for a gallon of milk without the DVD player in the Expedition being on and all the kids crouched over cell phones, Blackberries, and GameBoys.

Here's a frighteneing article.

"NEW YORK - The average American home now has more television sets than people.

That threshold was crossed within the past two years, according to Nielsen Media Research. There are 2.73 TV sets in the typical home and 2.55 people, the researchers said.


Half of American homes have three or more TVs, and only 19 percent have just one, Nielsen said. In 1975, 57 percent of homes had only a single set and 11 percent had three or more, the company said.

(this next snippet made my jaw drop)
David and Teresa Leon of Schenectady, N.Y. and their four-year-old twins have seven sets, plus an eighth they haven't set up yet. They include TVs in both the parents' and kids' bedrooms, the family and living rooms and one in the kitchen that is usually turned to a news station.

(SEVEN tellys!  SEVEN!)

(another jaw-dropper)

In the average home, a television set is turned on for more than a third of the day - eight hours, 14 minutes, Nielsen said. That's an hour more than it was a decade ago. [snip]
The average person watches four hours, 35 minutes of television each day, Nielsen said."

When do these people speak to each other and interact?  I spend a huge amount of time with my children - reading, playing, just talking.  Do these telly-watching moms do this whilst the idiot box blares in the background (cuz you know they all only "have it on for background noise")?!

Here's another scary one.

"(CNN) -- Pre-schoolers are likely to spend as much time in front of the television or computer as they are playing outside, three times longer than the time spent reading.[snip]

Children aged 6 and under spend an average of two hours a day playing video games, using computers, and watching TV and videos, about the same amount spent on outdoor activities, the Kaiser Family Foundation reports in a study released Tuesday. That amount is about three times the average 49 minutes spent reading or being read to.


The study found that even the youngest of children are no exception. Nearly two-thirds of kids under 2 spend a couple of hours a day in front of the screen. (The American Academy of Pediatrics has recommended that children under 2 not watch TV at all.)


TV also affects children's reading abilities. Kids with a screen in their bedroom or who live in "heavy" households -- defined as a home where the TV is on "always" or "most of the time" -- are less likely to be able to read by age 6. The study found 34 percent of 4- to 6-year-olds from "heavy" households could read, while 56 percent of other children that age could.

Among the other findings of the Kaiser study:

• More than a third of kids under 6 have a TV in their bedroom.

• About one in four have a VCR or DVD where they sleep.

• A computer is present in 7 percent of the bedrooms.

• On an average day, about a quarter of 4- to 6-year-olds spend more than an hour on a computer.

Researchers say that the findings should raise concerns on the importance of the early years on children's development, and that using TV and videos might displace more interactive and constructive time for learning.


Studies in the past have linked prolonged TV viewing to obesity in children, poor sleep patterns, and later adult violence. And as younger watchers become more prevalent, Kaiser's Rideout says that more research is needed to understand the impact of early TV viewing.

(this last bit takes the cake for me)

"[Parents should] consider if they really want to have a TV in their 3-year-old's bedroom or not ... and think about maybe turning off the TV in the home if nobody's watching it."

Those parents should be slapped in the back of the head and told to step up and actually farkin' PARENT.

And now I know, you are all going: "OK, wait a minute, Blue, you've got your kickers in a bind and are off on some damn fool idealistic crusade rant now!  What does any of this have to do with diabetes?"

Well my point is this: we are doing this to ourselves.

See, my 33 year old husband just had a heart attack.  A heart attack!

But he's not obese, he doesn't smoke, he does get exercise, and he tries to eat right and monitor his blood sugar.  He can (and now does) MUCH better with all of these things, but the point is that there are people out there who are purposely eating crap, sitting their arses in front of tellys and PCs all day, not exercising, smoking, etc etc and worse: raising their kids this way!

People don't have to drink sugary sodas all day or eat vast amounts of sugars and carbs, they don't have to let their toddler drink 20 oz Mt Dews, or let their teen sit in the house playing City of Heroes 5 hours a day.  They CAN make them come to the table for dinner (sans electronics) and be civil, they CAN get out and take walks as a family, they CAN cook wholesome meals, they CAN turn off the telly.

I don't want my sweet babies to ever have to suffer with diabetes but I have no control over their father's family history.  But by golly, I DO have control over their lifestyles and I am making sure it's as healthy as possible.

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posted by MrsEvilGenius @ 12:30 pm   1 comments


At 5:25 pm, Blogger moonduster said...

I know you don't watch tv in your house, but we do have one tv in our home. We don't have it on often though, and when I catch the teens starting to spend too much time on the tv or their computer, (it really starts to effect their attitudes too), I ground them from those things for a week or two just to give them (and me) a break.

Another thing I think parents do is they allow their kids way too many sweets and sugary foods. We found that, when our little girl started getting moody, we cut out sweets or replaced them with sugar-free ones, she became much less moody.


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