The Wellness section of The New York Times recently published a blog about the climbing numbers of sedentary youth in the country. Despite all claims that we as a country are making advances in health, it is clear that our health is declining and longevity is falling. Young people are at risk for developing degenerative illness, especially cardiovascular disease and diabetes, as well as cancer. In addition, 1/3 of our children between the ages of 6-19 are overweight or obese. There is a great concern that the U.S. is falling behind in education as well. There is a clear connection between being sedentary and a lack of interest or inability to learn.
Healthy people like to be active, challenge themselves, and learn. Throughout history, throughout the world, children have played outside without our involvement from morning until night, summer through winter. Why is it that our children no longer want to play? Being sedentary is a very clear indicator of poor overall health.
The article blames parents for not helping their children to exercise. That is not the solution. Healthy parents who are active and curious about life usually have children that grow up and foster similar attitudes and approaches. Health is a family issue. We learn about health through eating healthy foods at mealtimes. When healthy foods are reinforced at school, it becomes easier for children to make healthy choices.
Large quantities of poor-quality food do not encourage us to be active or foster an interest in learning. We also have total access to unhealthy foods, but we have to seek out and make an effort to find high-quality, healthy foods. Proper education about the long-lasting benefits of a plant-based diet and increasing access to healthy foods is the best solution for our youth and our future.
Michio and Aveline Kushi started the natural foods movement in the 60s by creating access to whole, natural, and organic foods. They encouraged the development of natural food stores and educational centers to make the food available and to teach people how to incorporate these foods into their daily lives. Now is a good time to make macrobiotic-style education more widely available so that a new generation of healthy children are better equipped to create a healthy future.