Recent news that our nation’s childhood obesity rates have stabilized at 16.3 percent — with an additional 15.6 percent of American children overweight — isn’t cause for complacency: it’s a call to action.
Obese children are at higher risk of diabetes, asthma and a host of other health concerns. Moreover, the aggregate data masks terrible disparities, particularly among people of color. It’s all the more reason to ramp up policies and programs to promote healthy eating and physical activity. High on this list should be passing legislation sponsored by state Rep. Peter Koutoujian to establish healthy standards for snacks and beverages sold in schools. All of children will be well served by this commonsense bill.
For more information on the legislation, visit the Massachusetts Public Health Association’s Web site at www.mphaweb.org.
Member, Board of Directors
Mass. Public Health Association
The United States is in hock up to its neck and in over its head. Little is being written in the media about the financial dealings that the United States has with foreign governments such as China. There was a time, and it was not that long ago, when it seemed that most nations owed the United States. But those days are long gone. The United States now owes, and owes big time.
The value of the American dollar continues to slide, and the euro reigns when Americans travel to Europe. Large tracts of American farmland have been either bought or leased by foreign corporations. Some of America’s largest companies borrow bailout money from foreign corporations to stay afloat. Many national chain hotels and motels are owned by foreigners. There has been little strategizing about bringing outsourced jobs back to America.
Today, many in our country are cash-strapped thanks to rising costs for gas, food, clothing, services and much more. Then the federal government turns around and gives you some money in the form of a tax refund, but that doesn’t really buy much.
It is true that we are living in an increasingly interconnected world, and that the Internet can take us there just as fast as we can hit the enter key. But the key that we are not touching in our schools to help prepare our young people for the changing world they will enter is the “you need to speak more than one language” key. Too many of our leaders in education and business do not speak a second language themselves, and a lack of funding is often used as a reason why foreign language learning is not in the foreground.
Meanwhile, the amount of money that has been spent on a war without conclusion has drained our revenue base. The killing continues on both sides, while community-based programs that looked to the federal government for funding find themselves in a quasi hiatus. There is a change coming in the dynamic of how programs get funding that will include a turn toward private funders and a call for increased corporate giving. The bright side to that is that we will have to look within ourselves to save ourselves.
Haywood Fennell Sr.