A Manifesto for Changing the Cruel Fate of Our Children
By Boyd L. Jentzsch
Who would you be without a dream, without a quest, without a consuming desire to change the world in some small or great way, a change only you can make?
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— Celebrate Woman (@DiscoverSelf) May 29, 2013
There is a generation of children growing up in our country. Their dreams are mere fantasies now. Yet, in time these silent urgings will take root, blossom, and mature into great life-dreams. Like all the generations before these children will expect to pursue those dreams, fulfilling the ageless miracle of rebirth born into the hearts of countless heroes.
But this new generation will be different. Far different. And that difference will touch us all in ways we can barely imagine.
The newest generation was born into a mean world
This, the newest generation was born into a mean world. A very, very mean place. When you subtract the inevitable wars of their lifetime (there have always been wars), when you take away the crime, the poverty, the infectious diseases, (each in constant ebb and flow), this generation will bear the cruelest fate of all.
No other generation has been called to bear the terrible burden of a disease, an epidemic, they alone have already been singled out to carry. No other children in the history of the world will know the sure progression of their terrible agony. And it has already begun.
If you will listen closely, if you will observe with eyes wide open, you will see what has never been seen before. You will hear silent cries growing in every place children live. The cascading pain of your close attention will pierce your heart, and you will cry, cry shamelessly from your depths, and you will ask, “What can be done? What can I do?” From this will a new hero arise within you?
Understand the special tragedy unfolding around you, the epic proportions of it all, and resolve to do something about it.
This newest generation has the cruel fate to be the first full generation to be born into a world of plenty. A world of surplus. A world of nutrient overload. A place of advertised, appetizing enchantment wrapped around an abundance of food that will kill them. Is killing them. And you, and I, and the whole lot of us are unknowingly doing the poisoned feeding.
Grasp the full power of what is happening to an entire generation of children. Comprehend the enormity of the tragedy. Then resolve to do something about it. If the world ever needed new heroes, if the world ever needed your resolve, your ardent quest, this is the time. Children’s bodies can’t wait.
Consider their plight. One out of three of today’s children, our children, will get Adult Onset (Type 2) Diabetes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). One out of three. If they are Hispanic, African American, Pacific Islander, it will be one out of two. 50%. One half. If Native American, it is already over 80%. 80%. The devastating assault has just begun. It is rapidly becoming global. Diabetes is just one of the killers.
A child born above-normal in birth-weight has an 80% chance of being dangerously overweight by time they are 3 years old. A child that is overweight at 8 has triple the risk of being an overweight teen. An overweight teen, is 3 times more likely to be obese in adulthood, even if they slim down in their late teens and early 20’s.
Obesity is not a cosmetic problem. It is a symptom of a pantheon of diseases. Diseases that kill slowly, but killers nonetheless.
Already one in eight of our children has Type 2 Diabetes or the precursors to it. (This devastating disease used to strike less than 3% of those over age 60.) Over 60% of these children also have deeply ingrained risk factors for heart disease. And if a child has even slightly elevated blood pressure at 8, they are highly likely to be hypertensive (high blood pressure) in their teens, only to see it dangerously rise in pressure as they grow older.
An obese 8-year-old has the quality of life of a child undergoing chemotherapy, according to studies by child psychologists. They are remorselessly teased, pointed at, chosen last for recess games at school, and have great difficulty playing sports and games with their friends.
Their difficulties have just begun.
Teen obesity follows hard on childhood obesity. Obese teens begin to show all the markers of heart disease, hypertension, and Type 2 Diabetes. The nearly irreversible damage to their bodies has already begun its pernicious work. It is deadly work that has only just begun to diminish their bodies. And destroy their dreams.
Childhood obesity is more than a bunch of kids being less than ideal size. Despite fully 80% of mothers with an obese child not believing their child to be overweight, (according to numerous surveys), obesity has much worse consequences than size alone. The health effects of childhood of obesity are lifelong:
• Most children with diabetes will go undiagnosed
• Children with diabetes are at high risk of permanent small blood vessel damage, leading to later stroke, kidney disease, and limb amputations if not prevented
• Obese children are 53 times more likely to have the risk factors for diabetes
• Diseases like cancer and heart disease are closely linked to improper childhood nutrition
• Rickets (soft bones), once eradicated, is making a comeback
• 7% of apparently healthy children have 3 or more risk factors for heart disease
• Overweight children have inflammatory signs which predict future heart disease and diabetes
• Between 34% and 65% of five year-old girls have ideas about dieting (5-year-olds. Dieting.)
• 1 out of 4 of our 4-year olds are obese or overweight
• Dieting in pre-teens and early teens is the leading precursor to eating disorders and later obesity
• Irregular exercise, appetite suppressants, laxative use, vomiting, and binge eating predict excess weight gain
• Dieting girls have over three times the risk of obesity compared with nondieters
• The psychological stress and social stigma of being overweight may be as damaging as the health effects
• The more overweight kindergarten and first grade children are, the lower their math and reading performance – undermining their academic foundations, setting them up for later under achievement
• If current trends continue, this generation of American children will grow up to be the most obese adults in U.S. History
– Type 2 Diabetes
– Liver disease
– Bowel cancer
– Sleep apnea
– Heart disease
– Lung disease
– Intestinal disorders
– Bone and joint complications
Childhood obesity confronts one in six of our children, today (not to mention those who are overweight and rapidly becoming obese). Soon one in three of our children will be obese. The number is rising rapidly, unabated – 85% of them will develop full-blown diabetes by time they are 40.
The incidence of Type 2 Diabetes in children and adolescents has increased 500% in the past decade. The rest of the world is rushing to catch up.
For the first time in history, more people worldwide will die of obesity, and related diseases, than hunger or malnutrition. Contemplate the irony of that.
• Obese adults make just 60% of the income of those with normal weight
• After 7 to 12 years of diabetes, most are on kidney dialysis (notice all the new places for this in the strip malls?)
• 80% of all limb and appendage amputations are of diabetics
• Diabetic men are much more likely to be impotent
• Obesity affects the quality and frequency of intimate relationships — for many, it prevents them altogether
• Diabetes is the leading cause of blindness
• Heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, and obesity dramatically shortens the lives of all those affected
• The drugs used to control the symptoms of these diseases can be toxic themselves, causing other, often debilitating side-effects
Stop for a moment and reflect on how the confluence of these diseases, coupled with each person’s personal challenges due to been severely overweight, will affect the emotional development and sense of self-confidence and well-being on these children. Then carry that thought over to emphasize with how that will affect them as adults. Daily. Hour by hour.
For the first time in history, we are facing the first generation of parents who will see their children die of chronic diseases before they do (CDC and World Health Organization, 2003)
This epidemic is bringing about the tragic collapse of everything parenthood has ever stood for. Being a parent has always been about sacrificing to make the lives of their children better than their own. It has never been about watching them suffer and die before you do. How could we be letting this happen?
As a nation, as a world, as parents and grandparents, we are losing an entire generation. Where will our world be without them? What will our nation be like without children growing to find and live out their dreams?
These children will have dreams, to be sure. They will be grand, and glorious, and beautiful dreams. But they will be stopped short. Their hopes will be shattered.
As they ascend into their 20s and 30s, this generation will increasingly be called upon to manage the ravages of their chronic diseases… many of which can blossom into deadly cancers. They will be consumed by the drained energy, the loss of income, the strained relationships, the incredible expense, the shrinking family resources to do anything but try to live another day – another day with independence and dignity.
What of their dreams? We all live vastly improved and luxurious lives because of the realized dreams of previous generations. The heroic quests of generations-past improve, enrich, and make our lives wondrous, unlike any that have ever lived on this Earth.
But, this new generation will not live many of their dreams. While they will greatly enrich us by their having been here, they will have fewer years to make our world even better for generations yet unborn. Their dreams, their hero quests, will hone closer to survival than to creating new visions for the future.
An entire generation of dreamers, of heroic quests is being lost. We will all live diminished lives because of it, even while our hearts bleed for the continued pain of our children and grandchildren.
For those not afflicted, they will be drawn into caring for, and financing the diminished lives of so many chronic disease-stricken young adults, so few of whom will reach the ripe old age of 65.
All of it, every bit of it, is totally preventable. Preventable. PREVENTABLE. The causes are known. The solutions are clear. It is not for want of caring this this is happening. It is not for want of knowledge that our children are suffering these undeserved calamities. It is for want of hearing, for want of seeing, for want of action that the already-devastating tragedy is fully upon us. And upon them.
If you will listen closely, if you will observe with eyes wide open, you will see the terrible calamity that has never been seen before in this world. And while you hear the silent cries growing in every place children inhabit, and while the pain of your close attention will pierce your heart, and you shamelessly cry from your depths, you will ask: “What can be done? What can I do?”
From this will a new hero quest arise within you?
The solutions are known. The keys to a different future are readily in your hands. You just need to recruit, and join with a generation of champions – a generation of heroes to change the course of history.
Heroes must be informed as to the causes and reasons for their great quest. They must be well informed about effective solutions. They must prepare themselves for the arduous task. They must reach out with compassion. They must know. Understand. Act.
For the difference between a dreamer and a hero is action. Concerted, knowledgeable, effective ACTION.
This great cause, to save an entire generation, is the greatest single quest in the history of the world. The need is immediate – children’s bodies can’t wait. The stakes are enormous. The heroic effort required is infinite.
We cannot wait. We cannot waiver. We cannot allow our feelings of inadequacy, our fears, our pride, nor our vain ambitions to intercede.
If we succeed in this our collective quest, we will be known as the heroic generation that changed the world.
If we fail………. if we fail……….
Will we allow ourselves to fail? Will we pick up and carry our fallen and weakened friends upon our shoulders until they, too, are ready to join us in this our collective quest? Will we allow ourselves to doubt that we each, together, individually, can make a difference?
Who would you be without a dream, without a quest, without a consuming desire to change the world in some small or great way, a change only you can create?
There is a generation of children growing up in our country. Their dreams are mere fantasies now. In time these silent urgings will take root, blossom, and mature into great life-dreams…
…but only with the fulfillment of your heroic quest to change their cruel fate.
Please sign and join this manifesto. Send it immediately to others. Tell us two things about yourself. Then share with us what you will be doing today, TODAY, to change the cruel fate of our children.
Don’t tell us about what others ought to do. There is no time to waste in talking. It is a time for you, and I, and all of us to take immediate action.
No matter what you personally may dream, build, develop, or accomplish in this life, remember now, you have been tapped on the shoulder to be a hero today.
Now tap someone else on the shoulder also. Children’s bodies can’t wait.
© 2007-2013 Boyd L. Jentzsch. All Rights Reserved.
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