Pull Your Own Weight: Resisting the modern obesity industrial complex
**The Edvocate is pleased to publish guest posts as way to fuel important conversations surrounding P-20 education in America. The opinions contained within guest posts are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official opinion of The Edvocate or Dr. Matthew Lynch.**
A column by Rick Osbourne
America’s cards are stacked against all kinds of people these days and our kids are no exception to the rule. After listening to medical ethicist Harriet Washington describe what she calls “The medical industrial complex,” and reading Dr. Mark Hyman describe the “Obesity’s toxic triad” (big food, big farming, and big pharma), all of whom are being financially supported by the US Congress with US tax dollars in the form of subsidies and loopholes galore, it’s easy to conclude that our democratically elected officials in both houses of Congress have been aiding and abetting corporate profiteers at the expense of future generations for some time now.
Why you might ask? Because everyone from the fast food industry to corporate farmers, pharmaceutical companies, colleges, universities, hospitals, and individual doctors are all so financially locked into the system that they can ill afford to rock the boat and tell the American people the truth about much of anything. And that includes the active role they all play in supporting the root causes of an epidemic the US Surgeon General has called “America’s number one health threat,” childhood obesity.
Systematic Changes are Unlikely
Presuming the sheer size and momentum of the current system will prevent any significant changes, the question becomes, “What are the odds of systematically arming our kids with the tools they need to stand up and fend off the influences of the obesity industrial complex that’s responsible for stacking this deck?
Arming/Activating the Kids Instead
I contend that the odds are excellent – if you know how to do it. Actually the solution is not only simple but it’s so inexpensive that individuals from all income levels can afford to partake. On the other hand, done right, it will be extremely expensive to the obesity industrial complex that depends heavily on the epidemic’s continuation!
Let me explain by spotlighting one very important fact that most people, if they just think about it, already know. Statistics confirm that kids (from 3 to 93) who can physically pull their own weight (do at least one conventional pull up) are ALMOST NEVER OBESE!
In other words, if your kids can do at least one pull up, odds are a thousand to one that they’re not obese. Furthermore, they’ll never have to wrestle with the myriad of problems that follow in the wake of obesity as long as they eat and exercise in ways that allow them to maintain the ability to physically pull their own weight. In short, they will have naturally immunized themselves against obesity for life.
Inspired and Motivated
All kids want to be strong at everything (it’s always cool to be strong) and pull ups inevitably represent strength to all kids. In this light, if you can show kids how to systematically develop the ability to physically pull their own weight and succeed week after week, month after month in front of their friends, you’ll be astounded at how motivated most kids become over learning to do pull ups.*
Once that goal is achieved it’s a simple matter of saying yes to the things that keep them strong and no to the things that keep them weak. That is to say, on one hand the pull up bar naturally encourages kids choose the fruits and veggies over the pizza and curly fries. On the other hand, it naturally encourages kids to choose active, physical play over sedentary, couch potato inactivity. In other words, it automatically rewards good eating and exercise habits, and automatically punishes poor ones. That’s built in.
Undermining the Obesity Industrial Complex
If they test themselves even once a week (10 seconds) in order to make sure their pull up ability remains intact, kids (and their parents) will know for sure that they’re winning the war and the obesity industrial complex is losing!
In the long run this strategy defunds the culprits. They’ll be unable to undermine well-armed, pro-activated kids, and as a natural consequence the culprits will eventually die off for lack of passive humans to victimize. That’s how we can turn the tide and win the war against childhood obesity once and for all. “Action exposes priorities.” Gandhi.
*Parallel bar dips, hand stand push-ups, single-legged squats, or superman pushups, etc. can all be used in place of pull ups and will yield the same results.
Rick Osbourne is a former physical educator and a pioneer in the field of functional childhood obesity prevention. He currently serves as President of the Pull Your Own Weight Foundation which is an Illinois based, 501c3, not for profit organization whose focus is functional childhood obesity prevention. He’s written and published three books in this field, the latest of which is entitled Beating Childhood Obesity Now: A Simple Solution for Parents and Educators. He’s the Examiner’s national childhood obesity prevention correspondent. He writes an online column for The Edvocate. And you can connect with Rick via Twitter, Linkedin, or Facebook.