If you have been reading Oh Lardy, you know that my family loves going to Disney World! We went this February and had a great time, even ate some real food while we were there! My husband and I did notice something during this recent trip that alarmed both of us and made us sad and scared for the future of our nation. We saw so many people on mobility scooters, that we felt like we were in the movie, Wall E.
For those of you who have not seen the Disney movie, Wall E, here's a brief synopsis (leaving out the robot love story!) Essentially, humans have destroyed the earth with litter and garbage and no plants will grow. They take to a giant spaceship to travel around in space while robots work to clean up the earth. This takes longer than anticipated (generations) and over time, on the spaceship, humans evolve from fit people who have physical strength to move their bodies to humans who are so obese and physically unfit they can not walk. They ride around in scooters, drink giant 64 ounce sugary drinks with tvs and advertising flashing all around them.
Hmmmm…this is a movie about the future? Sadly, it seems very similar to the present, to me.
Any place where there are a lot of different people, you are always going to see a lot of different sized people. That has been normal. But, what we were seeing was something different, folks.
Are we becoming the movie Wall E?
What we saw made us scared for our society, as we saw two different groups of people who had either lost or voluntarily given up their ability to be mobile.
Morbidly obese on scooters
We saw countless morbidly obese people who could not physically walk the parks and relied on the scooters to get them around. The scooters were helping them get around and enjoy the parks however, this made me sad. This group of people have lost their ability to be mobile. There are always different reasons why people are obese, however, I had never seen so many people utilizing scooters before at Disney World. This is what initially led me to the Wall E connection.
We hear so much about the obesity epidemic and here we were witnessing it with our own eyes!
Relatively healthy, average weight 60 year olds on scooters
We also were shocked to see many people in their early 60s, who seemed healthy, of average weight, using the scooters as an easy way to get around the park. We even witnessed people parking their scooters and jogging to the rides (some women in heels!).
Many of these people seemed to be voluntarily choosing to use the scooter as a way to make walking around the parks less difficult. A friend of mine just returned from the parks and witnessed a situation where husband and wife were taking turns on the scooter, arguing about whose turn it was to ride. Seriously?!
Is this our new normal?
I recognize that each individual may have had a variety of medical reasons why there were using the scooters to get around. These mobility scooters can be hugely helpful for people who need them (people suffering from illnesses such as MS or Lupus, people recovering from surgery or injury, elderly people who have trouble with balance or need help to keep up with their younger family members, to name a few). And, many morbidly obese people do NEED some sort of mobility device or assistance.
What makes me sad is that the obesity epidemic is so great in our country that so many people NEED these scooters. This is quickly becoming the ‘new normal' and that terrifies me for our country's health!
Every day, a variety of vans from scooter rental companies would show up at our hotel, dropping off and picking up rental scooters. (These companies have to be raking in the dough…kudos to that business plan). I checked out some of these companies online and many were marketing their scooters not just toward people with legitimate mobility issues…but people who don't want to walk. For just $30/day we can all rent scooters in Orlando. (This is CRAZY, folks!!!)
Are we getting to the point where we can't even be mobile (either due to physical condition or to choice)?
We witnessed a situation in ‘The Land' at Epcot where there was an escalator and stairs…right next to each other. There was a LONG line for the escalator and NO ONE was using the stairs. I wish I had grabbed a picture of it, but we have all seen that type of thing before.
Walking up a flight of stairs is something we should all be able to do! My daughter asked why we were taking the stairs…our new reply is ‘healthy people take the stairs'.
We are in a sad state of affairs, my friends. As a society, we are falling apart. I realize I am preaching to the choir here but seriously…what is happening to us is frightening. We all know we are facing an obesity epidemic. The maps below show a scary snapshot of our present and what is most likely going to be our future…our children's future.
Current Obesity Stats
Projected Stats for 2030
According to the CDC, the statistics we are facing make me scared for my daughter's future and for humanity as a whole.
- 1 out of 3 children are overweight or obese.
- 1 out of 3 adults are obese
- 2 out of 3 adults are overweight or obese.
- 1 out of 3 children born in 2000 WILL BECOME Type 2 diabetic in their adulthood.
- These people are at higher risk for heart disease, stroke, many kinds of cancer and more!
- In 2008, medical costs associated with obesity were estimated at $147 billion (this number is only projected to increase, folks)
And, if people who are fairly healthy (like the 60 year olds in scooters, wearing heels and jogging to the rides) are choosing to not exercise, not be mobile, it is only going to get worse.
We should have enough strength, even into our elder years, to carry our own bodies, lift a small bag of groceries, walk up a flight of stairs. Our society has become so focused on things being fast, cheap and easy. If this attitude is taken toward our health…it will kill us.
Areas that need change
What are the solutions to this problem? I wish I had the answer to that question. We have gotten well beyond the solution of ‘eat less' (fake food) and ‘move more' (although that isn't necessarily bad advice). There are so many factors but I see three areas that can change to address the situation
1. Healthcare Industry
We have a
healthcare sickcare industry in our society that is dead set on treating the symptoms of many of these lifestyle diseases without treating the cause. Got diabetes? Take meds. Have high cholesterol? Take meds. Back hurts? Take meds (or have surgery). God forbid, the root of the problem is ever addressed! How can we expect people to ever get better when the problems just continue to be covered up by meds, meds, more meds and surgery?
2. Food Industry
Our food industry continues to peddle calorie rich/nutrient poor food leading our bodies to be overfed but our cells to be malnourished. We are fed a bunch of chemical-, hormone-, pesticide-, antibiotic-laden, colorful pseudo food that is doing nothing to nourish our bodies and is just making us sicker and fatter over time. And our government continues to allow this by subsidizing cheap gmo soy and gmo corn (which is in almost all processed foods), refusing to enforce better labeling for gmos, artificial colors and flavors and other fake ingredients and by being controlled by powerful lobbyists of the food industry. (Many of these ingredients are either illegal or must be labelled as potentially harmful in many other countries).
This can be very overwhelming to us all. However, I think we can all start to make a difference. We can start to make better, more informed choices with how we spend our food dollar for our own families. We can help educate other people about making better food and exercise choices. We can help to change the food culture surrounding our communities, our children's schools and sports activities. We can just say no to excessive, chemical laden snacks for our kids…it's not just one, folks! We can sign petitions as they arise and make our voices heard that we are sick and tired of people becoming sick and tired (and obese).
As one of my favorite food advocates, Robyn Obrien, says…
“While none of us can do everything, all of us can do something.”
It is my hope that Oh Lardy is helping people start to do something!!!
What are your thoughts? I'd love to hear you talk about where our society is headed? What are your solutions? Are you doing anything in your household or your community to make a difference?
This post is featured at:
Real Food Wednesday, Party Wave Wednesday, Thank Your Body Thursday, Old Fashioned Friday, Weekend Whatever, Sunday School Blog Carnival, Thank Goodness It's Monday, Fat Tuesday, Scratch Cooking Tuesday, Traditional Tuesday, Family Table Tuesday, Tuned in Tuesday