A short story based on a true event. this story prefaces the first three chapters in The Elephant in the Kitchen.
My brother-in-law recently opened his own pizza restaurant in our small town in Northern California. The restaurant resides across the street from the town’s high school. If you are there when the clock strikes twelve, you can witness a swarm of high school aged kids bolting across Main Street to his front door. They line up and start to make their meal orders. Now you might expect them to order a pizza and share it among a group of friends and get a couple of sodas to share, or get a buffet which comes with all you can eat salad and pizza, or maybe even get a soup and sand which to split, but the funny thing is that none of them do this. Instead, 98% of the kids who eat at his restaurant order the same thing day after day. Bread sticks with ranch dressing and a soda. They split this between three or four friends and call it lunch. Watching these children eat lunch is disgusting! Three heavy set girls and a guy sit around a table, there are two orders of bread sticks in the center of the table with a large soda (four straws cascading out the unlided top) along with this they have four containers of ranch dressing, they quickly go through the first batch and walk to the salad bar to load their containers up for seconds, thirds and even fourths sometimes. They triple dip their bread into the dressing, sucking off the sauce in between dips until the bread starts to get mushy from saliva and sauce and can’t hold it’s shape any longer. Dip after dip, the high schooler’s chat and giggle, never understanding the complications that they are causing their young bodies.
Imagine this, your walking down the street in the year 2010. You come to a schoolyard where there are lots of young children playing. You stop at the fence to watch and you notice that two of the three kids swinging are very overweight, a kindergarten aged girl slides down the curved slide, she too is overweight for her height. There are some young boys playing kick ball on the field to the right of you, there must be about ten of them. Half are over weight and very out of breath. There are some girls sitting in the shade in the grass chatting, one is thin the other, you guessed it, overweight. You decide to continue on your walk. You stop in your local grocery store to grab a cool drink. You’re standing in front of the refrigerated section looking over your options when a group of teen-age girls come chattering up behind you. One of them says, ”Excuse me,” she reaches in to the refrigerator in front of you and grabs a diet soda, asking her friends what they would like the other girls reply with varied responses, The same as you, I’ll take a sports drink and the last one says a water. Shocked at the last girl’s response you look at her and notice that she’s the only one in the group that seems to not have weight problems.
This might seem a little far fetched that so many of the children in this story are over weight, but according to a study done by the International Journal of Pediatric Obesity, by the year 2010 half of the children in North and South America will be overweight, one in five children in China will suffer from weight problems and 38% of all kids in Europe.
What does weight have to do with anything? So we don’t have a bunch of twiggy’s or Barbie’s running around. Our children are normal, happy, healthy young adults. Right? Wrong, wrong, wrong! You don’t have to have the perfect body. Girls don’t have to look like run way models, boys don’t have to look like ideal men out of GQ. But the facts are clear. The heavier a child is the more likely they are to suffer from various diseases such as heart disease, stroke and other illnesses that are a likely result in adulthood.
Britain's Royal College of Pediatrics and Child Health, found that during a lifetime obese children are also at high risk of developing type 2 diabetes and generally this form has been found in middle-aged overweight people. Numbers are escalating in children and we may not be fully aware of just how many of our youth are affected due to many parents missing the early signs of diabetes in their overweight children. In combination with this there are tens of thousands more that are suffering from high blood pressure, increased cholesterol and fats in their blood which are all suspected of being the forerunners of type 2 diabetes.
In the following chapters you will discover just how serious this world epidemic is. You will see that for the first time in our world’s history that we have a chance to out live our children. We are truly in the cusp of breaking the circle of life.