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Our Big Problems with Kids

Posted
Sun, 02/01/2004 - 1:00am
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5 months ago
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Congratulations America, we have the fattest kids on earth. Over the last 20 years, the number of overweight children in this country has doubled. Soon, if that trend continues, one out of every three kids will be obese. 

When I was a kid I used to play Kick the Can every summer night. Today kids play Sit on Your Can or a game more like Mother May I Finish Off the Double-Stuff Oreos? “Generation,” says U.S. Surgeon General Richard H. Carmona, “is turning into Generation L.” 

“When I was a kid I used to play Kick the Can every summer night. Today’s kids play Sit on Your Can.”

Funding and school budgets are a big part of the problem. Our country spends hundreds of billions of dollars to check grandmothers for shoe bombs while letting funding for schools shrink to the size of the Grinch’s heart. Meanwhile, our kids blow up like Macy’s floats. It’s all part of the No Child Left Behind Except the Ones We Couldn’t Get with the Forklift Act. 

You want a threat to America? According to the Centers for Disease Control, one in three kids born in 2000 will contract type diabetes—and potentially the heart disease, blindness, asthma, sleep apnea, gallbladder disease and depression that may come with it—because they are obese. 

Remember when physical education really meant physical exercise? Now you see elementary school P.E. instructors replacing sports that actually make a kid sweat—like dodgeball, kickball, and tag—with “activities” like competitive cup stacking. Hey, nothing burns off fries like competitive cup stacking. Can we let them do it in recliners? 

It bothers me when I drive through cities and see empty playgrounds. What’s even worse is when I see parents driving their kids three blocks, so their children can play on these playgrounds. Let them take that cobweb-covered contraption in the garage. It’s called a bike. 

My favorite is when you see the Dad, pumping his bike madly, while his triple-chinned five-year-old lies in the back of his little vinyl bike caboose. He’s back there on his cell phone, gorging on marshmallow bunnies. Let him pedal himself! 

It goes well beyond playgrounds though. We need to watch what our kids are eating too. When I was a kid, a fast-food soda was 12 ounces. Now it’s 32. In the last 20 years, hamburgers have grown by 23 percent and so have our children. Thanks, McDonald’s, you supersized us. 

The reason why some of those playgrounds are empty these days has a lot to do with the television. Turn off the cathode-ray tubes once in a while. The average kid spends 5 1/2 hours per day in front of a TV, a video game monitor or a computer. Our kids have the strongest thumbs in the world. It’s the rest of their bodies that jiggle like a San Andreas Jell-O factory. 

We’ve got to do something—and quick. If not, this could actually be the first generation in American history to live fewer years than the one that came before it.

Brady L. Kay

Managing Editor

Today’s Playground 

Thinking Today About Tomorrow's Play™ The only magazine that is 100% dedicated to the Playground Industry