Making a New Year's resolution to lose weight has become a cliché-not that there's anything wrong with wanting to be a healthy weight. But when the government resolves to make us-or more specifically our children-lose weight, that is a problem.
First lady Michelle Obama has made childhood obesity her cause. Who could object to that? People in favor of overweight children? Or maybe people who believe that government-as-nanny hasn't worked in the past and won't work in this case either.
Ohio State University released a study earlier this year on childhood obesity. What it found was that there are three activities that actually help reduce childhood obesity rates (and spending millions of taxpayer dollars on healthier school lunches isn't one of them). They are: eating dinner together as a family, having children get enough sleep, and limiting children's TV viewing.
What's the common thread? Strong, involved parents. The cost? Zero dollars. Surely we don't need a federal program to get the word out about these simple but effective measures. Michelle Obama, like other first ladies before her, has a bully pulpit of her own. Imagine the potential good she could do by encouraging parents to take responsibility for their own children by implementing these three basic, no-cost activities in their own homes.
Focusing on family dinners alone could have a tremendous impact. Other studies have shown that children who eat dinner together with their families are less likely to smoke, drink alcohol, try marijuana, and use drugs. They're also more likely to get better grades in school. And families who eat together talk together. Just think of it! An opportunity to pass on good values.
Maybe the problem isn't eating too much, it's not eating together enough.
Wishing you all a Happy New Year!