Wednesday, July 25, 2007

"Thin" versus "Healthy"

Total change of topic time.

So, in addition to watching A.N.T.M. online, I have started watching "Shaq's Big Challenge" on ABC's website while I'm blogging or working or what have you (

Shaq and some of his friends/colleagues decided to bring some attention to childhood obesity by making a reality t.v. show following six kids/pre-teens as they try to lose weight and get healthier. Shaq brings in an old coach, some personal trainers, nutritionists, and even celebrity chef Tyler Florence to totally revamp not only eating and exercise habits, but even their attitudes. They make sure parents are on board and involved, as well, supportive all the way.

And they don't stop there. The "team" goes to the school district, meeting with teachers, principals, even the superintendent to bring these ideas into the schools and reach a greater number of students. A new lunch menu, an 18 week curriculum rotation focusing on (healthy) meal preparation, nutrition and exercise - even an impromptu after-school group, which started when one of the original 6 participants asked to bring a friend. One friend turned into 10, 20, 35 + students interested in joining in.

Though I'm sure this show doesn't show half of what went on behind the scenes, and it definitely gets hokey and even downright impractical, I still rather enjoy the premise of the show. What is wrong with encouraging healthy attitudes and lifestyles, and encouraging support systems of friends and family members?

However, there is some controversy out there. Namely, some individuals argue the show communicates unrealistic and unhealthy ideals, putting these kids on diets and exercise regimens, and focusing on the goal of becoming thin. For example, try

Hm. And herein lies what I find to be a rather common problem. There is a HUGE difference between being "thin" and being healthy. True, Shaq's Big Challenge does focus on weight loss. But for Pete's sake, these kids are 11 to 14 and weigh between 182 and 285 pounds! And it's not just the weight - they all fall in the "morbidly obese" category as far as bmi and body fat % and can't tolerate strenuous exercise for more than 5 to 10 minutes at a time. And talk about junk-food-junkies! Not to mention their sense of self-worth was bottoming out. No, I think these people criticizing the idea missed the part where the focus is on being HEALTHY. I mean, maybe they know something I don't. But, again, I see no problem with encouraging healthy lifestyles. Especially in kids. Especially when it makes them happy!

People, people. It is not about WEIGHT - it is about attitude and eating and exercise habits. It is about respecting yourself enough to take care of yourself. Skinny doesn't equal healthy any more than morbidly obese does. If someone is going to encourage healthy living and awareness, I am all for it. Like I said, maybe it's more complicated than that, but I dunno'.

And I definitely support the family ideal - healthy living should be a family effort. Include friends, too! This totally increases the likelihood for success. And it is waaaay more fun! But most importantly, acknowledge the difference between body weight and body shape/condition, and encourage healthy living.

'K - I'll step off the soapbox, now, but sometimes it just drives me nuts when people so blatantly misrepresent things, and act like things are synonymous when they are NOT.

1 comment:

Jael said...

Amen Karen. I don't think people realize no matter how hard some people exercise or eat right etc if their body type is curvy or bigger it's going to stay that way unless they go unhealthy in the opposite direction and stop eating or something similar. Healthy does not equal thin, I think that's really important to understand too. Stay on that soap box and preach it!