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How Much is too Much?

How much is too much? It's a question we ask ourselves perhaps a dozen times per day ... and in almost every aspect. Or at least, I do.

And since we are on the subject, take, for instance, my day. Would five more minutes on the treadmill make my legs sore, thus rendering me ineffective for tomorrow's workout? Do I really want that extra Hershey's Easter chocolate egg I snuck in-between breakfast and lunch? Do I really need that pair of darling black shoes with heels just the right height, even if they are 40% off? Does my son really need that extra pair of jeans even though the price was slashed so low it rivaled Target? I won't tell you how I answered those questions today but the answer may have begun with a "Y". Okay ... you get the idea. So I'm a little impulsive ... impulsive within my pre-set boundaries.

The question of "how much it too much" came back to haunt me as I listened to a pair of local radio news commentators debate the very subject after my shopping spree. It wasn't really their question of the day, but it was mine. Their topic was childhood obesity and a new government program announced today that is attempting to halt the growing obesity rate in America, especially amongst children. A valid concern we would most likely all share.

In reading through the ADA's press release, I was struck by the phrase, "A focus on prevention of behaviors."

The question, I believe, might be better stated as, “How much government is too much government?” Appalled, I heard callers expressing their indignation at watching Food Stamp recipients at local convenience stores spend their “government money” on snack food, thus encouraging obesity, in their words. In irritated them that their tax dollars were aiding fat people to grow even fatter. Again, their words, not mine.

And as I took a call on my cell phone while driving, I quickly looked around to make sure a police officer wasn’t nearby because in Washington State, it is illegal to “talk and drive” and when I didn’t immediately spot an officer, I breathed a sigh of relief because my seatbelt also was not properly fastened.

I realize that I’m taking this to a new level and believe me, there isn’t much of anything that doesn’t raise my ire and protective nature more than issues dealing with children. Nutrition would come close. I probably obsessed more about my child’s nutrition in his early years than anyone I know. I hid vegetables in every imaginable treat and actually shed tears when he ate broccoli without spitting it out. I sincerely believe in nutrition and in nutritional education.

I also agree that it is an issue that must be addressed. Children today spend many hours per day at their school desk, less time in P.E. due to budget cuts, less time in after-school sports activities, again due to cuts, more time watching TV and playing video games.

My question isn’t the problem … it’s who fixes the problem. While nutrition education sounds so good on the surface, I am concerned to what level the government will take it. Imagine a world where your health insurance is subsidized or paid for by the government, you happen to be obese, or a little overweight, perhaps you have chronic medical conditions. Would you cost too much? Would you be a liability on the government, on society? How then would they deal with that liability?

You see, there is a little thing called “freedom” that I am quite partial to. In fact, many of my ancestors arrived in this country in the 1600’s. It was something they were partial to as well, partial enough that they uprooted their families, endangered and placed hardship on those families to leave everything they knew and reach across an ocean for an ideal called “freedom.” And once attained, many paid for it with their life and the lives of their children. And those who came later as immigrants in the 20th century, also grasped for that same illusive ideal … to America, for freedom’s sake.

Urban Dictionary describes “Freedom” as “Something the American people just think they have.” Let’s not wake up one morning and find that the day of our freedom has passed.

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