Is Technology Making The Digital Generation Obese?
Are advances in technology contributing to the increase in obsesity figures? Will the digital generation soon be synomous with the "dangerously overweight" generation?
Over 50% of adults in the US are overweight and this staggering figure is growing almost as rapidly as the American waistline. Definitely not a case where bigger is better, surveys show that, despite increased knowledge of nutrition and the health benefits of regular exercise, Americans are becoming larger. How can this be? Health care costs directly attributable to obesity have escalated to $68 billion and a further $30 billion is spent on weight reduction programs and special foods, according to the American Obesity Association.
Advances in food technology have given us replacement fats and sugar substitutes resulting in a huge variety of goods being available in the low fat, non fat and low sugar versions. Just because a food is low fat, we know, if we're honest with ourselves, that it doesn't mean that we can munch it with virtuous abandon. Yet somehow, we can assuage our guilt and justify enormous servings with the comforting fact that we could be doing worse. We could be eating the full fat, high sugar, less healthy version.
There is evidence to suggest that many will eat almost twice as much of the lower fat or sugar product as they will of the fattier, "real sugar" counterpart so any dietary advantages are reduced. Portion size here, in the US, is almost out of control. The word "small" has almost disappeared in association with food or drink. Is this because the word almost offensively implies meanness or poor value for money? Perhaps, but it could equally be argued that this adjective no longer accurately describes the size of the consumable. Therefore the smallest offering is usually labeled "regular" or "tall," and to appeal to those of us looking "for a deal", the next size up is usually only a few cents more. Hey, why not get the king size -why not Supersize it? Because, to put it bluntly, my friends, unless we partake in some serious exercise with as much gusto as we do our food, our lunch is not the only thing which will become Supersized.
There is no stopping the advance of the mechanical and high tech age we now live in. Every task is now motorized, digitized or mechanized to make our lives easier. A door that must be opened manually will now catch many people by surprise:many homes have dishwashers, washer dryers and small tractors to sit upon while cutting the grass. Remote controls now operate virtually every conceivable component of our home entertainment systems so further reducing our need to move. The list of labor saving devices seems to be forever growing and figures suggest that the waistlines of the public are expanding along with it. The Russians have developed and are looking into marketing a petrol powered hiking boot so that we don't need to exert ourselves as much even when we do that most basic of all exercises and walk!
Technology has given us escalators and elevators to help us avoid the strain of stairs. Moving walkways, drive-through banking, pharmacies and fast food outlets are springing up everywhere -all designed to give us more leisure time and to presumably leave us with more energy to enjoy all this freedom from the daily grind. Yet we don't actually appear to be doing anything very energetic. Only 13% of adults exercise for the recommended three sessions a week. The rest are watching TV, playing or working on computers or eating out somewhere. The number of overweight children in America has risen to 10 million: a figure that has more than doubled over the last 20 years.
The digital generation, or "Generation D', as it's now being trendily called, is no longer out in the parks playing baseball, tag or showing off their brand new bicycle. No, you're more likely to find them surfing the Internet or glued to the "tube." Obviously sport is still loved and and an integral part of American society- only now more and more people are watching and less and less actually participating. Watching a sporting event is, after all, another opportunity to eat. With wide screen, digital and projection system television the compulsion to stay in and watch an event or movie while lazing on the couch (with a plethora of snacks to accompany us) is understandable but should not be condoned as a daily habit.
We don't want to stop advances in technology, of course. Progress had greatly enriched and enhanced our lives in countless numbers of ways. Advances in medicine are giving us a population which is living longer and more fulfilling lives. Developments in the field of communication and in the computer industry have opened up the world enormously,from which it would be impossible to retreat without detrimental consequences. We do need to take a step back and look at whether all the technology at our fingertips today is a necessary eveil or whether we're using it as a crutch to support our trend to laziness. We need to utilize all the gains in time and energy that technology allows us and shake ourselves out of the rut to take up some more active pursuits. If the "all you can eat" buffet remains our most exciting challenge, the digital generation will soon be synonymous with the overweight generation.
If we want to stop this current trend we need to forgo the "All You Can Eat Buffet" challenge, stop jostling for the parking spot closest to the entrance and take up some more active pursuit. If we don't, Generation "D" will soon be synonymous with 'Generation Dumpy' or 'Dangerously Overweight'.