Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Seven Day Sights, Sounds, Speculations and Stargazing

On a gloomy, dark and wet evening we present to you as always the Seven Day Sights, Sounds, Speculations and Stargazing from our wonderfully challenging world.

I had originally presented the idea of discussing observations about the integrity of our word but a more intriguing document floated across my desk this week from none other than the local Member of the legislative Assembly [MLA in these parts]. The title: A Strategy for Combating Childhood Obesity and Physical Inactivity in B.C.

First we must note that in order to combat these problems of obesity and inactivity we have to all first agree and realize that there, indeed, is a problem. As mentioned here in the swipupstream blogs we have seen these problems in there varying forms for ages now.

Here are just a few of the 36 total recommendations [just recommendations that should be acted upon] that the Strategy decided over a one year in depth study.

  • Promote fresh fruits and vegetables
  • Expand farmer’s markets
  • The government utilize is recently formed ActNow BC agency to coordinate fitness, diet and wellness plans
  • Ministry of health to create and put into place a Type 2 diabetes plan
  • Remove vending machines serving junk food from schools
  • Remove all food designated as “not recommended” from schools and only have foods that follow guideline
  • Remove the tax benefits on soft drinks and candies and all unhealthy food
  • Negotiate with food providers/manufacturers that they voluntarily reduce sugar, fat and salt content in their foods
  • Work with manufacturers to enhance corporate self regulation on food marketing
  • Ministry of Education promote and grow programs that educate children on healthy eating habits
  • Expand school fruit and vegetable snack program
  • Expand hot lunch subsidies so everyone can have a nutritious lunch if they need it
  • Develop a school physical activity program and encourage physical activity in school
  • Create a safe routes to school program so children can walk, run or ride their bike to school
  • Create a Cycling Infrastructure partnership Program so more people use sustainable transport that has a healthy benefit
  • Develop annual awards for developers and urban land managers to recognize best practices in terms of recreation, densification and zoning practices that encourage physical activity
  • Develop positive marketing programs that encourage physical activity and healthy nutrition

Okay, there are some of the recommendations [edited for brevity so you can all get the point but get back to work soon] that have been presented by our local government. This took them a year to make these possible solutions. Some are great and I really hope some took little more than the committee sitting in the room taking notes. Removing junk food from schools doesn’t need much studying in my opinion. Just get it on the list, then use the money we saved talking about it to actually get into the schools with some fork lifts and get the damn vending machines out.

As for actually increasing physical activity in schools we should have probably all thought about that when we started cutting funding and P.E. from the program. How much will it cost us to re-start the programs we used to have, which were already working. But I digress.

As of this writing 29 of the 36 total recommendations have been acted upon in a variety of forms. Of course at the government level it is never as fast as just going out and getting it done but I must confess that I am proud of this effort and happy to report that things are moving forward including an initiative to have over 20% of our local Vancouver [or British Columbian] population fit and active for the 2010 Olympics. Bold in this day and age but very impressive.

Our businesses have been asked to help implement some of these changes in any way that we can and as a swipupstream contributor I am more than happy to assist. Is there any way you can be involved? What action can you take to assist?

After all if a government and all of the red tape generally associated with it, is showing more forward motion than you are then how little are you doing? Whether it is global warming issues, health and nutrition or acting on issues you feel need to be brought forward into the public consciousness take action and get busy. Go from recommendation to personal solution as fast as you can.

It is wonderful, no matter how long it has taken, to see action being taken to curb the onslaught of obesity and inactivity in our children. Looks like the government has put its flippers on and gotten in the water; we are all going to benefit from a little more power as we swim up stream.

See you next week as we bring you another addition of the often amusing, sometimes enlightening and rarely masterful Seven Day Sights, Sounds, Speculations and Stargazing from our swimupstream world.

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