Tribune thumbsPublished 9:21am Tuesday, March 4, 2014
Obesity levels among American children ages 2 to 5 fell from 14 percent to just over 8 percent during the past decade. That’s a 43 percent drop. It just goes to show you that America, for a big nation, can be nimble and make progress on important issues when it really wants to. It also shows that parents and preschools have been on the ball. Children 6 to 11, however, remain the same, with nearly 18 percent obese. And 20.5 percent of children 12 to 19 are obese. America still has a big problem with childhood obesity.
We don’t have the full solution, but it would be intelligent if American schools eliminated the trading of candy at every holiday. Ask any school bus driver what sugar-filled mania is like on Valentine’s Day. Our schools are sending the wrong message. Let the parents control access to candy and remove the societal pressure to bring and eat candy in the classrooms.
It looks like smoking, but it is not smoking. The Minnesota Legislature is considering a bill to treat the inhalation of vapors from smokeless electronic cigarettes like typical tobacco cigarettes. It seems to be an overreach of government to treat e-cigarette smokers like cigarette smokers. In fact, the tobacco industry wants governments to ban e-cigarettes so that it forces people using e-cigarettes in an effort to quit smoking to be outdoors with the tobacco smokers, where they will be around the substance they are attempting to avoid.
Look, smokeless electronic cigarettes appear to be a less of a health risk compared with conventional tobacco cigarettes and have helped many people quit. They emit vapor. They don’t emit chemicals or odors like typical cigarettes. Some note their effects are not well-studied and are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration. The state ought to avoid following the wishes of the tobacco lobbyists until more is known about e-cigarettes. Otherwise, it’s like banning bubble gum because the bubble popping is annoying. Lawmakers need to be patient, let Americans exercise this freedom and wait until a time when better information on the secondhand health factor is available.
The indoor triathlon last weekend was a great idea to brighten the winter doldrums. We look forward to next year. In a typical triathlon or any type of outdoor race, children watch as Mommy or Daddy passes by on foot or on a bicycle. (Swimming, even in a lake, usually is visible from a single location.) However, with the indoor triathlon, children could see their parents riding a stationary bike or running round and round on a indoor track. They were right there the entire time. Being a supportive family isn’t merely going to the children’s events and watching them play sports or perform in the arts or sciences. At its best, supportive family also means children watching parents involved in sports, music, theater, toy trains, horse riding or whatever hobby a parent has. The best childhood development is when there is the two-way kind. Parents support children, and children support parents. After all, good parents grow, too. It was on display last weekend at the indoor triathlon.