Childhood Obesity: Not in the 1950's & 60's

Most Baby Boomers will remember all those cool products and gadgets we had when we were growing up back in the day. Yeah the 50’s and 60’s were rich with toys and gadgets to keep us entertained. Back then there was no cable, fios or Direct  TV, with their 200 plus channels, no HD, 3D, or DVD, and no giant flat screens or projection TV’s. There were no desktops, laptops, tablets, Kindles, Nooks, gaming devises or smart phones! Things like that only existed in the imagination and in Sci-Fi movies. Yeah when we were growing up we had only books, sports and the toys and games that Hasbro, Remco, Wham-o, Milton Bradley, Mattel,  and several other companies created for our amusement. 

hula hoop madness!

I can’t imagine what it would be like to get home from school and immediately veg out in front of the TV or computer screen for the rest of the afternoon and evening like so many kids do today.When I was a kid our TV only received seven channels, 2,4,5,7,9,11,& 13, a few more if you counted the grainy, fuzzy UHF channels. Besides, most of the time there wasn’t much on. we wanted to be outside. Yes, ours was an active after-school world, where nearly every afternoon was spent outdoors playing, occasionally even in the  rain . It was a blast! From hula hoops, yo yo’s and spinning tops, to Gemini Gyros, Pogo Sticks, bicycles and kites, to plastic, water propelled rockets and homemade skateboards. And if that wasn’t enough we had all sorts of sports we could take part in. Yeah we had plenty to keep us busy.  

From around age 7-11 one of my favorite pastimes was playing marbles. I had a big collection of agies, cats eyes, pearlies, steelys, purees and boulders. I also had this really cool leather pouch that my grandpa had given me with a beltloop and a drawstring. I called it my game bag.  It held like fifty marbles. The rest of my marbles I kept “in a jar by the door.” Ha! Just kidding. I kept them in Folger’s coffee cans. My dad had tons of them. He used to keep screws, nails and assorted small parts in them. They worked great. Funny, until this writing I had forgotten how much fun we used to have playing marbles especially Ringer or Chase. Do you remember playing for funsies or for keepsies? Yeah,  Those were certainly the days.  

But like everything else after-school activities have changed greatly. Many kids come home to an unsupervised situation in which mom and dad are still at work and big sister, brother or grandma is the caretaker. Usually sis or bro are too busy doing their own thing to care much about what these kids are or aren’t doing, and grandma, well she just wants things to remain quiet. So these kids are allowed to veg out and spend countless hours gaming, watching TV, texting, surfing the Net or just lounging around. What a waste of humanity. Sometimes even in homes where there is a parent the kids get away with the same lack of activity. Parents are caught up in doing their own thing. Hey they have a life beyond raising children you know! It seems that as long as they aren’t fighting or bothering anyone it doesn’t matter what they’re doing. 

 Childhood passes quickly enough without exposing youngsters to an overload of technology which seems to eat up the time at an even faster rate. No, childhood should be chalk full of fun physical activities not sitting around on their butts all day! It drives me crazy when I see young children under the age of ten using their smart phones to play games, watch movies or text. They  have their own phones, can you believe it? I’m sorry but I don’t think an elementary school child needs a cell phone. Yeah I’ve heard that they have it it in case of an emergency or because its an easy way to keep track of them, but that’s a crock! A child that young shouldn’t be anywhere that you don’t already know about and shouldn’t  be out without supervision.

My oldest granddaughter is 9 and wants her own cell phone so very badly. I keep telling her she won’t be getting one until she’s at least fourteen or in high school, but  she assures me she’ll have one much soon and is already in negotiations with her parents. Hey what does gramps know, she may be calling or texting  soon. Speaking of texting, I’ve seen some kids that are pretty damn quick with their thumbs on those miniature keyboards. I’m here to tell you, knowing how to text quickly is not what I would call a major childhood accomplishment!  And other than exercising your thumbs, you doing nothing for your health.

On a recent visit to the hospital while waiting for a prescription to be filled I saw several small children as young as two with their parents cell phones in hand. Thoroughly entertained. They actually appeared to know what the hell they were doing! Yes the smart phone has become the new children’s entertainment center, instant baby-sitter!   What a shame.  These kids will grow up hooked on their smart phones, computers and gaming. Their afternoon and evenings will become a wasteland. With little to no physical activity these kids will be tech savy,  but continue to grow rounder and wider. 

Today’s kids are suffering from ailments that weren’t normally seen until later in adulthood. Come on, should a kid be suffering from high blood pressure or high cholesterol? diabetes? No way! Besides being overweight or obese as a child can also have an adverse  psychological effect on children and lead to depression. And these physical ailments can lead to a premature death in adulthood.  

What’s wrong with this picture? Everything! It’s no wonder there’s such a problem with overweight and obese kids in our country. They simply don’t get enough physical activity. Today, about one in three American kids and teens is overweight or obese, that’s almost triple the rate in the late 50’s and early 60’s! We claim to be so damn intelligent and say we want the best for our children yet we continue to ignore this growing problem. We’ve got to stop placating children and get them off their collective asses! They need to get physically active and they need to do it now before its too late.

Just Saying..


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