I think it beyond dispute that many habits human beings gravitate towards don't necessarily work well for us as a species. Instincts, propensities and desires that worked well for thousands of generations often now perpetuate serious problems as we find ourselves in a setting soaked with material prosperity.
Childhood Obesity and Parenting
(News article out this morning on childhood obesity - link
The Quest for Calories
: As the basic unit of convertible energy, we crave these in their various forms for metabolism, brain functioning and the ability to get and stay active. Imagine a setting where cheap calories are available everywhere and you'll still find us craving them. Heap a truckload of high-caloric food on us and somewhere near the bottom you'll find someone still munching out. This is what we are; our bodies will continue to seek them out.[INDENT]Net Result
: What we eat isn't what's necessarily good for us
[/INDENT]"Mom and Dad are at work"
: American Culture is in a place where in most cases, both parents must work in order to raise the funds necessary to provide for themselves and children. What's more, our cultural outlook equates career success - in particular, financial success - with "success" overall. I don't see being a parent
or stay at home mom/dad
as brag-worthy (although I think it is). At least a large portion of U.S. Hegemony validates your overall worth to what you wear, what car you drive, where you shop and what kind of house you live in. Whether out of necessity or towards accommodating cultural expectations, staying at home and rearing children does not occupy the place of importance its significance demands.[INDENT]Net Result
: Children are often left alone and/or without parental company
[/INDENT]Interests, fun and Effort
: I believe one of the most significant reasons for the continued survivial and evolution of the human race has to do with a behavioral tendancy that can be loosely described as Bang for Buck.
And although the least effort for the most payoff can be seen throughout much of the animal kingdom; coupled with intelligent sapience, humans reap a particularly large boon from getting the most fun, material payoff or other benefit by gravitating towards what works with the least effort or pain.[INDENT]Net Result
: If children can gain more entertainment from television, video games or cell phones, and such are available, that is what they'll do
[/INDENT]Parenting in Prosperity
: It's more healthy to mow your own lawn; sweat a little, feel the breeze on your face and interact with your neighbors than it is to hire someone to do it. Yet, most people - given enough money available - would opt for someone to do it for them. It's better for you, as both an animal, planetary inhabitant and social creature, to walk to the store than it is for you to drive. Yet most people - given a vehicle to drive - will do just that. This is true of virtually everything we do; cultivate a garden instead of purchasing vegetables, join a social group meeting rather than talk on the phone, and the list goes on and on. Plop down 4,000+ Wal-Marts with proportional pricing in any 3rd world country and they, too, will experience this phenomena. This is the downside to prosperity and applies, too, to parenting
. Although quite rewarding in an emotional sense, parenting is difficult, frustrating and time-consuming.[INDENT]Net Result
: Humans will do what's easier, for any given result, than what logic/reason says they should
. This is especially prevalent in rich countries. It thus follows that parents will often opt for the easier means of occupying children's time.
[/INDENT]So does it surprise us that Human Nature
combined with a Consumption Lifestyle
and Abundance of goods and technology
has set before us this problem? Quotes from the above-linked news article:
- "Pate and other childhood obesity experts say more American youths are becoming obese because so many are addicted to television, video games, testing and fast food."
- "The prevalence of overweight children and adolescents between ages 6 and 19 has tripled since 1970, a 2007 New England Journal of Medicine study found."
- "Burgos' advice to parents of obese kids is simple: Though it may be easy to save time by not cooking and by giving kids only the food they want, don't do it. "Don't let food become a substitute for the love and time you should give them," she says."
- We see all around us the price we've paid for so many available goods and services. From either a health, intellectual or environmental standpoint, can this possibly be worth it?
- Is so much caloric, convenience and technological prosperity worth the 'price' we pay when such is realized?
- How might a culture refocus priorities from what's easy, what's thrilling and destructive to what's mentally and physically healthy? Can this be done?
- Is this issue, perhaps, just a case of Lazy Parents? If so, how could this be remedied?
Prosperity and over-abundance of resources feels like a good thing. I fear it's not though; that the price we pay is prohibitive.
Agree? Disagree? Thoughts?
EDIT: Mods, feel free to toss this wherever it best fits. Either here in Health or Social Philosophy are good places