If the current trend continues, our grandchildren won’t have to concern themselves with the scourge of global warming because they will already be disabled, on dialysis and likely deceased far more prematurely than we will experience. About 10 percent of North Americans are type 2 diabetes or prediabetic primarily related to obesity but that number is spiraling toward 30 percent by 2025. For minority populations with poor nutrition the prediction by CDC in U.S. and Health Canada is closer to 50 percent.
Since diabetes is a powerful driver of all types of heart disease, strokes, kidney failure, blindness and amputation, we are ignoring a ticking time bomb. Never has the financial impact of a single disease weighed so heavily on both fiduciary and health facility resources. How did we get here? In a word…SUGAR.
The average Canadian consumes a minimum of 5-6 times the nutritionally necessary daily sugar intake and it is killing us. Human nature being what it is, I fully understand the futility of expecting adults to change their bad habits so let’s tackle the issue from the perspective of saving the next generation. Step one is to shop smarter. Your enemy is the big box store and it’s collusion with the candy makers. Dodge the take out line with the candy shelves. They were put there for the usual subliminal reason combined with their proximity to bored tiny fingers reconnoitering from the shopping cart. Read the labels on the cereal boxes and show your children how to choose nutrition over flamboyant labeling. Turn shopping in to a game of finding the lowest sugar content.
Buy only 100 percent pure juices and stay away from soda and other high sugar content liquids. Do NOT use candy and other sweets as behavioral rewards. Remember your children are targets of marketing machines flogging high sugar content as “fun food”. Make food preparation a family event. Use nuts and seeds and various fruit to make smiley faces. Make your own snacks from base ingredients and let the creative side of the child play with the mix and match.
Walk away from the mindset children must be continuously rewarded. A “treat” should not be an every day event. A little tough love is appropriate too. Candy should NEVER be a substitute for a nutritious regular meal. Don’t eat your meal? Then you don’t need the sweet extras.
How many times do we lament on a daily basis we are losing control over our individual lives? Here is one example where the conscientious parent can exercise total control. It’s a one to one connect that will work IF we combine it with a national strategy. Get the junk food machines out of the schools and children’s sport venues. I’m calling for an across the board TEN PERCENT surtax on all foods containing more than 5 grams of sugar per serving. There will be some people who won’t change their bad behavior but a tax similar to what we already have in place on cigarettes and alcohol will at least provide the financial resource to address the health costs of their bad behavior instead of bankrupting the rest of us.
Dr. David Carll