Swans Commentary » swans.com January 30, 2012  



What About The Children?


by Jan Baughman





(Swans - January 30, 2012)   We are living in a time of uncertainty -- a protracted recession, protracted unemployment, record personal and public debt, and no exit strategy in place but for continuing to prop up corporations and the wealthy in the guise of trickle-down economics. No serious efforts to improve the situation are being floated because for the elite, all is good. At least for now. It's unfathomable that a country can exploit and sacrifice its children, who hold the very future of the country in their tiny hands. Rather than planning for their success, they are being groomed as an emerging market in chronic disease, being set up to replace the aging and soon-to-disappear baby boomers as consumers of our high-priced health care system.

America's children have become laboratory rats in the grand experiment of an adulterated food system and a poisoned environment. As to the former, children subsist on sugary drinks and fatty foods laden with the omnipresent high-fructose corn syrup, and school lunches controlled by corporations peddling pizza, french fries, and ketchup as a vegetable portion, all while physical education and recess have been cut due to budget constraints and the oxymoronic demands of "No Child Left Behind." At home, playtime consists of hours sitting in front of the television or computer. As if these cards stacked against their health weren't enough, a recent study conducted by The Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York found that urine concentrations of the plasticizers phthalates in children were related to obesity as measured by body mass index and waist circumference. According to the report, "Phthalates are man-made, endocrine-disrupting chemicals that can mimic the body's natural hormones. They are commonly used in plastic flooring and wall coverings, food processing materials, medical devices, and personal-care products. While poor nutrition and physical inactivity are known to contribute to obesity, a growing body of research suggests that environmental chemicals -- including phthalates -- could play a role in rising childhood obesity rates."

The Centers for Disease Control reports that "[t]he percentage of children aged 6-11 years in the United States who were obese increased from 7% in 1980 to nearly 20% in 2008." According to the CDC, immediate effects of childhood obesity include risk of cardiovascular disease, prediabetes, bone and joint problems, sleep apnea, and social and psychological problems. Long-term health effects include heart disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke, cancer, osteoarthritis, and of course, obesity in adulthood.

In his hour-plus State of the Union address on January 24, President Obama gave lip service to the health of our children in 25 words: "I will not back down from protecting our kids from mercury poisoning, or making sure that our food is safe and our water is clean." His opponents' agendas range from decreased government regulation, elimination of the Environmental Protection Agency, to the Libertarian philosophy of preventing the government from controlling how an individual chooses to live.

Unfortunately for the children, the choice to grow up in a healthy environment is no longer an option. No matter who wins the upcoming election, the children of America surely stand to lose while corporations will continue to profit at all of our expense. If we don't even have the will to protect our children, how can we envision creating a better world?


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Jan Baughman on Swans -- with bio. She is Swans co-editor.   (back)


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Internal Resources

Humor with a Zest

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Patterns which Connect

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Swans -- ISSN: 1554-4915
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Published January 30, 2012