Threat of obesity looming large at schools around nation
May 2, 2008
Across the United States, teens have to combat the dangers of obesity and its life-threatening consequences.
As part of its established wellness program, the Park City School District has increasingly introduced healthier foods system-wide. In many cases this means that whole grains have replaced processed flour and smaller portions are more routinely used. This progress, however, is stymied by other influences that cause kids to be attracted to less healthy foods. "We offer a lot of whole grains and fruits and vegetables," said Kathleen Britton of the Park City School District, "but the kids don’t necessarily like it (or eat it)."
A local PhD in Draper, is currently seeking a solution to this pressing problem, but as his documentary "Killer at Large" reveals, obesity has roots deeply entangled in our society. Last week, Dr. Sean Talbot brought selected cuts of his film and his vast knowledge on proper diet and eating to some of the students at Juan Diego Catholic High School.
Among other things, Talbot preached that deprivation diets are unhealthy. According to him, diets should not be so simplistically oriented that they just exclude fats or carbs or proteins. The key to losing weight is far more complex. "There’s a whole lot more than eat less and exercise more," to effective dieting he said.
The film examines the cause of obesity as a societal malaise and explores the reason why so many people eat such unhealthy foods. Talbot pointed to the popular movie icon Shrek as an emblem simultaneously used as an advertisement for a national health campaign and also as a spokesogre for food products with little nutritional value. The mixed message can be quite confusing said Talbot, it can also be indicative of the proximity between government and industry when it comes to food.
Talbot delivered this message specifically to health sciences students on the first day of his campus visit, but later addressed a larger audience at a general assembly. So far, he noticed that the general reaction to his film and his talking points are usually something akin to "oh my gosh I didn’t know (obesity) was that big a problem."
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Talbot’s hope is to continue to educate young people, not only for their health but because they are at an age when they might have the energy to do something. "Young people are in a unique position, their not so jaded I guess," Talbott said. Especially because obesity is so tied to American society at so many levels, this sort of activism, not just awareneness, will be necessary to stem the flood of fat cells.
At the moment, Talbott’s film is only scheduled to play at the "First Take Film Festival" in Augusta, Georgia, but Talbott hopes to play the film for schools and festivals. Ultimately, the film would be part of Talbott’s plan to educate children about the dangers of obesity on a wider scale.