Opinions

Canadians need to cut down on the poutine

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Food is an essential part of survival, day in and day out. However, the key thing about it is how it only serves its purpose properly when used in moderation. Too little creates starvation, yet too much is just as much of a concern. While the small end of the scale used to get the most attention, it's the big side that is now becoming the pandemic.

Scary as it is to use that word relating to the issues of being overweight or obese, it is perhaps the best way to describe the situation. Sadly, most see the problem much like the undeniable truth of global warming. Nobody is really doing anything about it. As a result, year after year, the percentage of people termed overweight or obese always rises.

A survey of 63 nations reveals a disturbing reality for Canadians. In both categories of men and women, Canada has become the "fat nation," with our obesity levels the highest among the nations surveyed. The smallest of consolations came in the fact that the U.S. did not participate in the study.

Nevertheless, this alarming win by our home country should be something to shake the sense back into the nation. A whopping 36 per cent of Canadians are obese, with an additional 30-40 per cent, depending on gender, classified as overweight.

These figures are as hard to swallow as a bad pun. Consider three average Canadians. According to the numbers, one will be obese, one overweight, and a measly one would be in the range of normal weight. Two-thirds of our nation has a weight problem, and there seems to be nothing being done about it.

The source of being overweight would logically seem to be the target of some sort of program to tackle the growing sideways problem. In the UK, the government is sending letters to parents of fat five-year-old children, determined by weighing the kids in primary school. While one would hope the parents could notice their child was packing a little too much fat without reading it in a letter, it is a step in the right direction.

The idea of targeting kids at a young age is first move towards a regular-weighted world. Numbers show almost 25 per cent of children are now overweight, and the condition will most likely follow them into adulthood. The statistics on children 20 years ago were nowhere near the levels today; the problem will not slow down without serious dedication by the youth of today.

However, the children are only part of the problem. The majority of the blame for this problem today lies with the middle-aged population, who grew up in the age of convenience.

This desire for ease in everyday life has led the average diet astray. Grocery stores stocked full of processed food, malls filled with fast food joints, corner stores packed solely with junk food. It has programmed kids to believe these are normal eating habits, when this is clearly not the case. Yet, the number of places like these is only on the rise.

Whatever happened to government intervention? When the country is in financial crisis, those in power pour in millions to correct the imbalance. Yet for something as crucial as the health of their own people, all we have is the Canadian Obesity Network: a less than a million-dollar investment in research, a nice tactic which involves nearly zero action.

The real solution involves engagement, not sitting back and studying the issue. Place more strict regulations on fast food joints and create a more rigid set of rules for processing food. Even radical ideas should be considered. Publicly-funded gyms and exercise centers to promote more physical activity are one way to face the issue head on.

Spewing things like "eat better" and "exercise regularly" are clearly not making the problem any better, it has only gotten worse. Someone has to step out on a limb and do something huge to prevent the huge from developing. The lack of action has only hurt us so far, and it's time to know we are all part of the solution.

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