August 3, 2004
The Trouble with Air
Unless you don't have any kids or you just don't care, it is difficult to ignore the problem of childhood obesity in America today. There are many, many news stories around the country dealing with this epidemic, and all of them mention the same old reasons for this problem: namely lack of exercise, too much TV, and fast food. All of these are obviously a factor, but I've discovered yet another possible reason for this problem, a much more covert, sinister reason that will be difficult to overcome.
I remember my own childhood well. I grew up in River Falls, WI and I remember the summers being HOT. I remember lying in my bed at night sweating like a dog because 1) it was hot and 2) I always covered myself with blankets because I was afraid of "monsters." But the main reason I was so hot was because we didn't have air conditioning. In fact, I don't remember many people having air conditioning at all. I had one friend lucky enough to have a cool house, and I thought his family was rich. However, as a result of not having air conditioning I think I played outside a lot more. I mean, it was just as hot inside as it was outside so why not be outside?
It is my hypothesis that kid's today are not making the same choice. Kids today avoid being outside in the summer because it is so much more comfortable inside. As a result, they just aren't exercising as much as we did when we were younger. I see it in my own kids. On a relatively hot day, like last Saturday for example, my wife and I tell our kids to go outside and play only to see them return inside after 10 minutes because they are "soooo hot." I can imagine this same conversation taking place in thousands of other households across the Twin Cities. I really feel air conditioning is making our children lazy and fat, and truthfully I don't know what to about it.
In closing, there was a time when air conditioning was a luxury. I think if you studied it long enough you would find a correlation between the rise of air conditioning in cars and homes and childhood obesity that would be hard to ignore. That is all for now. Back to our regularly scheduled programming.
Posted by snackeru at August 3, 2004 9:07 AM | Life
Some kid in New York wrote her NAtional History Day on the effect of air conditioning:
1999 History Day
I wish the paper were posted but I can't find it. It's titled: "From South to Sunbelt: The Effects of Air Conditioning on Southern Life."
Posted by: Susannah Tambien at August 6, 2004 3:47 PM