Obesity and Society: Future Projections

By Ariana Dispalatro, Trending Editor

While looking to see how the perception of obesity has changed, it is quite interesting to realize that the majority of people on Earth before us were extremely underweight.  I have heard people joke about how kids today are so much bigger than they were ten years ago and this isn’t just weight, but height and overall build.  Some kids may naturally be taller than others, but it feels like kids as a whole are getting bigger.

We see people complain how actresses, models, and even cartoon characters and dolls are unrealistic expectations, but these examples of size are changing too.  For example, look at the Disney princesses and the women that voiced them.  Adriana Caselotti, Mary Costa, and Ilene Woods, the voice actresses of Snow White, Aurora, and Cinderella respectively, are visibly smaller and younger than Anika Noni Rose, Mandy Moore, Kelly Macdonald, and Idina Menzel, the voice actresses of Tiana, Rapunzel, Merida, and Elsa.  The changing appearance of these voice actresses from the 1930s to the past few years illustrates that sizes are changing.

According to Robert W. Fogel, Nobel laureate and Chicago professor, “Human biology has changed.  We’re not falling apart like we used to.  Even our internal organs are stronger and better formed.”  It has been proven that people today have fewer chronic illnesses and are healthier overall.  According to the Department of Agriculture, the total U.S. food supply allows 500 more calories per person per day than in the 1970s.

While our growth as a society may make us healthier, this does not mean that obesity is healthy.  According to the CDC, in the past 30 years, “childhood obesity has more than doubled in children and quadrupled in adolescents.” The World Health Organization has said that being overweight or obese has been linked to more deaths worldwide than being underweight.
We have seen efforts made to encourage children to eat healthy and get enough exercise, but a child’s environment is the most influential factor.  I remember being a kid and playing outside after school with the neighborhood kids before starting homework, but now I don’t see that.  My sister’s friends were more likely to stay inside and watch television or play video games instead of being outside.  The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services says that children should be active for at least an hour a day.  Just a recess and gym class a day can easily get kids that much, but there are school districts that are getting rid of these in favor of more math and reading classes.

Ohio proposed “Healthy Choices for Healthy Children” legislation that would have required all students in Ohio to get thirty minutes of moderate to rigorous physical activity every day.  However, school groups pushed back against this bill by saying that it would be a financial strain and worried it would mean the school day would need to be extended.  The health of students should be one of the most important things.  Luckily, there are schools that have implemented their own practices to increase student activity despite the bill not being passed.

We have gotten healthier as a society, but we need to cultivate that health.  Overweight and obese children are more likely to be overweight as adults and face the health complications.  If we are going to be a healthy society, we must make sure our kids know the importance of being active.  If we let kids watch television and eat junk food all day, we don’t have a chance.

A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, Feb. 10th print edition.

Contact Ariana at
ariana.dispalatro@student.shu.edu

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