Hey Canada, go back to being Canadian

Think of Canada. Beautiful right. Think of Canadians… earthy, natural, warm, friendly healthy people. Usually nicer than us stress packed Americans to their south. But things are changing. Canada, as well as the rest of the world, is turning more “American-ish”.

Many of the multi-national food production companies are American based. Fast food as a business and a concept originated in America and nothing is more red-white and blue. Red for the fat loaded blood carried in our veins, white for stacks of insurance paperwork we have to fill out for everything we do and blue for the color we turn as we have our heart attacks and go to the hospital. American, right?

CBC medical contributor Dr. Karl Kabasele said many factors are fuelling child obesity. “The food industry and the processed foods have kind of created this environment where it’s so easy to get calories,” said Kabasele. “Kids are playing video games, watching TV, not getting out and exercising, so all of these factors are kind of conspiring against kids despite our best efforts.” Just like their American role models.

In America our stats are poor. From 2009-2011 statistically 1 of every 5 Americans 19 years old and under are considered obese. (Source: Prevalence of Obesity in the United States, 2009–2010)    Canadians aged five to 17 are overweight or obese, in similar patterns.  Using World Health Organization standards of measurement the 5-17 year old Canadians were classified as overweight (19.8 per cent) or obese (11.7 per cent) from 2009 to 2011. This is not new news since cases of overweight or obese Canadian children haven’t increased over the past decade.

Canadians, like Americans, often put studies into play before they can determine if the last plan, derived from the previous study, has been effective or ineffective. Without a consistent and patient follow through the best course of action usually only lasts until another course of action can be written. Now I’m not claiming to be wiser than the multitude of doctors and statisticians that are reviewing the problem, but to me the correct action is clear.

  1. Subsidize organic farming to keep prices low or at least competitive to processed farms. This will allow more choice in the market place.
  2. Tax credit for validated participation in preventative behaviors like health clubs, stress reduction programs, yoga and health instruction and other programs that may reduce chronic lethargy.
  3. A renewal of public parks and recreational spaces that promote healthy activity in conjunction with educational programs that enhance learning with activity.
  4. Raise the tax on video games, junk food, alcohol, sugary snacks, alcohol, cigarettes and food.
  5. Incent corporations to provide health programs for employees
  6. Incentivize parents for enrolling children in activities lie gymnastics (shameless plug) and parents to enroll in educational courses that teach healthy parenting.
  7. Provide programs that teach parenting responsibly in public schools before children are old enough to have their own children. Health education needs to focus on the next generation.

That’s from me, a gymnastics coach and parent who thought of these 7 points in less than 30 seconds. I didn’t study the problem for 8 years or get bogged down in funding or politics. To me it’s just seeing a common sense plan and figuring out how to make it work as we go. But common sense doesn’t always associate with common action. However, we don’t have time to wait to see if studies validate our plan, or to see if it’s proving effective. We’ve known the best plan since time began: eat better, exercise more. Period.

Says Dr. Kabasele “The medical community has to work hand in hand with parents, with the food industry, and with government regulators to figure out the best way to kind of reduce this obesogenic environment that kids are growing up in.” You got it Karl. Now get up off your Canadian butt and do it. Try to be the healthy, friendly, warm and welcoming neighbors to the north that we used to secretly envy. Stop emulating us and go back to being Canadian again.

The heights and weights of 2,123 children and teens were taken from the Canadian Health Measures Survey done by Statistics Canada, Health Canada and the Public Health Agency of Canada between August 2009 and December 2011.

Leave a Comment