I finally re-sized my wedding/engagement ring last week. This errand was the last little detail in losing weight that I had been putting off. It had started flying off my finger in about March, so I just stopped wearing it, but I am excited to have it back — plus, it’s all shiny again, so it looks GOOD. I went down about a ring size or more, and I was thinking that maybe it wouldn’t cost anything because they get to keep my gold, right? Wrong. It does cost something. Losing weight has been a pretty expensive event overall. Of course, I know that it won’t ever compare to the costs of developing an obesity-related disease such as diabetes or anything, but seriously? New clothes, gym memberships, new gear for new hobbies all cost money. And I am sure you could say that I could cut back by only walking uphill both ways in last year’s shoes for a workout, but the motivation to keep doing so would end in about a day.
If America’s obesity epidemic is such a problem, perhaps the government should incentivize losing weight. I mean if we are going to have a “nanny state” that tells us what we are allowed to pack in our kids’ lunch bags, that’s going to cost money. Maybe instead of spending gobs of money on whatever state or federal program they plan to roll out to monitor kids’ food intake, they should give me my money back in the form of incentives. I mean, if I am healthy now, and I teach my kids to be healthy, then all my money is just going to pay for some program to monitor some other person’s kid because their parents are ignorant or lazy? I’m not saying I am against public health education campaigns, I’m just saying that the government offering me money to do it myself would light a fire under my butt. And I would hope it would do the same for lots of other families.
Teaching people how to eat right and take care of their body isn’t going to work without some form of internal motivation. Money may be an external motivator, but it might help people develop an internal motivation to make changes in their lives. Certainly a note from your kid’s school with the chocolate Bunny Grahams you sent attached to it isn’t going to motivate you internally. I know, because it happened to me at my kids’ previous preschool. It shamed and humiliated me, and it made me mad. Not mad enough to make changes in my own life, just the bitter brand of unproductive anger.
Now, I am certain that my idea would never work because of X, Y, and that fact that it makes sense. However, I know from personal experience and the experience of others that food monitoring is not going to work either. I am curious as to what you all think- what are your ideas about how to approach childhood obesity?