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Thursday, 21 October 2010

Internet is the new smoking

Activity- and health-wise, that is. We finally seem to have gotten past the lure of smoking as the 'thing' to do to be cool, to make us look 'attractive', and frankly, to give us something to do when we're bored or needing some sort of 'crutch' to latch onto. The cues, examples, and depictions of smoking in the media and public have drastically subsided from restriction on advertising, to less glamourization in movies and TV (except , of course, on 'Mad Men', which actually shows how ridiculously 'normal' smoking looks), to no-smoking in public places. SO, you'd think our overall health would be improving and, importantly, our children would, certainly, be growing up with this yoke of a huge poor health habit lifted off and enabling them to be the healthiest generations ever.

Sadly, not happening. Why -- because NOW there's internet! Kids spend SO much time sitting -- chatting, youtubing, lurking, gaming,you-name-it on the internet. So, now, aside from ever-increasing time sitting watching TV -- they are occupied with ADDITIONAL hours of inactivity -- in itself a poor health habit -- to all kinds of exposures of violence, sex, misconduct,and voyeuring.

This has to be contributing to the incidence of obesity in countries where kids are just not moving more to compensate. While travelling a bit last month, I noticed that, thankfully, kids are still cycling in The Netherlands -- they have to -- it's the way they get around. Thus, thankfully, the prevalence of obesity in The Netherlands remains one ofthe lowest in the world, despite the incidence slightly increasing, probably due to factors mostly coming from the dietary intake change and, indeed, increased 'automobilization' in some pockets across the country. In Italy , and many other parts of Europe, people still do walk regularly, as a means of transport. The point I'm trying to make, is that there MUST be compensation in SOME way to help make up for all those hours of sitting and 'vegging' for our children. Do NOT allow your children to miss out on engaging in some kind of sport and/or physical activity. In the former post-war 'boomer' generations, physical exercise was not emphasized as much as it is now, because there was no need -- the prevalence and incidence of obesity was not yet alarmingly high. Actually, these very same 'boomer' kids, who are now middle -age and aging adults, are having a high prevalence of obesity BECAUSE they were not brought up with the stress on the importance of including physical activity and exercise. So, more reason for, NOW -- parents MUST make a concerted effort to get their kids moving. AND, parents need to be unobtrusive, yet firm, consistent, and regular. Exercise and physical activity has to be made to be 'normal'. Or else, you will have your kids digging their heels in and reverting to their beloved habit of 'internetting' even more.

I'm not saying the 'internet' is all bad. It's here and it's not going away and it HAS improved life on many levels. But, like anything else, OVER-use of it, is the problem. It's all still about balance.

We've succeeded in controlling smoking amongst our children. Don't allow them to suffer the legacy of poor fitness, by turning a blind eye to them habitually 'lighting up' their laptops and PCs. It really and truly is hazardous to their health!

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