Things we used to know but have now forgotten: our children’s health is simply not the government’s job

It’s tempting, I know, to sit back and passively let government “experts” instruct us on every single detail of our lives, and I’m glad whenever we call attention to the need for more physical activity for our kids, but relying on “physical education mandates” will not, and cannot, fix this:

A study by UGA kinesiology professor Bryan McCullick examined the mandates for school-based physical education in all 50 United States. The results found only six states mandate the appropriate guidelines-150 minutes each week-for elementary school physical education. For older students, two states mandate the appropriate amount of physical education instruction for middle school, and none require adequate physical education at the high school level, a weekly 225 minutes for both. The National Association of Sport and Physical Education set guidelines for the amount of school-based physical education instructional time.

“… the appropriate amount of physical education …”? Since when do parents need government bureaucrats, sitting in some faraway office, to dictate health decisions about their children? This is a massive over-complication of what used to be common sense: children should be outside as much as possible.

This is the same government that had dietary experts who declared a war on fat and told us to eat carbs, resulting in an epidemic of diabetes and tremendous weight gain even in children. Their advice was wrong, and did not work to make us healthier. Their track record on such matters is not stellar.

Parents: we need to get a grip, and re-engage with our common sense, and re-assert our parental authority over our children’s time and activities.

Because what we’re doing is not working, so doing more of the same won’t work either. It’s time to admit it: relying on government (and schools) to direct our children’s health decisions is not working.

Any parent over the age of 40 or so knows what I’m talking about. Think back to when you were a kid. Every day after school, and sometimes after dinner, and every weekend day, and then all summer long, it was the same thing: getting out of the house for hours at a time, to play baseball / football / street hockey / basketball / soccer or ride your bike or go exploring in the woods or … just, you know, hang around with your friends. At least for boys, this is what your life was like. You lived through school and whatnot but what you lived for was getting outside to play with friends, especially sports.

Kids were generally not overweight, and they got out of the house and discovered the world a little bit at a time, developing confidence and social skills along the way.

Since the 1980s or so, government experts have told us more and more often how we should eat and how much exercise we should get, while we increasingly chose to allow our kids to sit on their asses in the house and disengage from the world with video games and cable TV and chatting online and then texting. Coincidentally, during this transition, childhood obesity rates and diabetes rates skyrocketed.

You can dismiss these trends if you like, but something major has changed in the lives of children over the last 30 years, and it isn’t good, and as a culture we essentially took a system that worked and tinkered with it until it made everything worse.

Now we look around at each other in amazement because we can’t figure out how to keep kids healthy and slim, and rely on government experts and local schools to make parental decisions for us?

As Tigger would say, “that’s ridicorous!”.


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