According to Wil Haygood, it’s his best opinion that the health concerns in this town of Manchester are due to the lack of exercise facilities and excess amounts of fast food restaurants and unhealthy foods offered in their local stores. I somewhat agree, to a point, that it is more difficult with so much temptation around. However, I also feel that a lack of self control is a contributing factor in any case such as this, as well as the fact that some people turn to food in times of stress, while others may also be in denial that there is a problem at all.
In this story as well as actual situations, I have heard reasons and “excuses” as to why someone may be overweight. For example, in the story the Mayor of the town says, “I just don’t know a lot about obesity.” Until you realize it, you’re blinded. Then you get to an age where you suddenly say, “Oh, my God! What have I done to myself?” On the one hand, it seems as though the mayor is admitting that at one point in time, she was oblivious to the fact that she was overweight. At the same time, I do not understand how any individual could not be aware of such changes to his or her own body, especially if it is a drastic change. I would have to say that she demonstrates a definite lack of self control, and denial that the problem has or had anything to do with her own actions. By focusing on anything but the root of the issue, this woman may be overlooking the deeper problem of her health actually being in jeopardy. I feel that these types of problems can be solved by individuals simply assuming responsibility that they have a lot to do with their weight gain. They can make better decisions, though they may be hard to follow through with, they can take action to correct their issue.
Focusing on one man by the name of Charlie Rawlins, he chose to do this. He was a twenty year old man who stood five foot nine inches tall, and weighed two hundred and fifty one pounds. His weight was problematic to the point that it caused him to have to have several knee surgeries. The pain that he had to experience from his weight applying so much pressure on his body was more than he could handle. Mr. Rawlins educated himself on nutrition. He started eating healthier, making better choices with his eating habits, and he began working as a personal trainer at a physical therapy facility inside a local hospital. With such positive choices, determination, effort and a lot of dedication, he was able to lose a total of sixty six pounds. He shows a lot of concern towards the local kids. He attempts to get them to come and see him at work, but they always refuse. His concern for them is sincere and personal because as he puts it, “The kids around here, they’ll eat corn bread and taters for lunch. They’ll get a 20-piece chicken meal. It’s killing them.” He figures that the reason that people do not go is due to a lack of resources, however he also argues that with the amount of money that these people spend on fast food they could easily afford his prices.
Another local, Regina Stevens, who is the town’s pharmacist, states that it is her opinion that the residents are “unaware of the consequences of being overweight.” The pharmacist admits that a good share of the medications, which she prescribes, are “things that can be adversely affected by increased weight.” “These medications are for conditions such as Type 2 diabetes and hypertension”. She also admits that while she is most important to some people, others would not need her help at all if they would simply lost weight. Some of these individuals could be taken off of their medications all together. She even states that “they would have increased longevity in life.” If Regina Stevens is right about this, which I believe that she is, then it is a shame that so many people still believe that losing weight and living a healthier lifestyle is so difficult to attain.
One former local, Jill Day who grew up in this town was astounded by the amounts of overweight people, children and adults as she looked around after coming home on a break from the University of Kentucky in Lexington. It was her opinion that the issue would make “an interesting academic study.” She did a study on the underlying causes that can lead to obesity. She conducted the study using elementary school students, by using fourth and fifth graders, although only two hundred and seventy seven students total participated out of seven schools. She did different tests, and as it turned out, exactly half of the students were either overweight or obese. Her next comments are hand in hand with what was stated before, about the problem with denial. Day, who is now an assistant professor of human development and kinesiology says the people have a fear of talking about the issue of obesity, “a fear of knowing the truth.” She even states that some claim that obesity by in large is heredity however she disagrees. She states that “Since 1980, obesity has tripled in children, so we can’t totally blame genetics for this increase.” She blames the issue on a lack of physical activity combined with poor eating habits, and makes a valid point that attitude can make a large impact on willingness to make such changes. She talks about how people do not want to work hard to get to where they want to be. Instead, they just want to take the easy way out and the outcome of taking that ‘easy route’ is that these people are having severe health problems.
Some other people mentioned in this story are two sisters, Carlin and Brittney Robinson. These girls are sweet and full of personality; however the main topic of conversation for them is food. Carlin states that she has started to notice that she is bigger than most kids at school and that she gets picked on. Her sister Brittney says that she would like to talk to Carlin about her weight but she does not want to “push her buttons.” She states that it is uncomfortable to talk about. Carlin even admits that she will not weigh herself because it is embarrassing. The girls do not even have full length mirrors in their home, so they cannot see the extent of their weight gain. Brittney is right that she should talk to her sister and help her in any way that she can, but she seems to be more hesitant when she claims that her reasoning for not doing so is to not upset her. It is my opinion that by not reaching out to her she is enabling the situation. At the same time, she wants to keep from hurting her sisters’ feelings, possibly making her feel worse about herself. The better thing to have done would have been to reach out, especially as a family member, which is a lot less embarrassing than an outsider, and voice her concern in a way that showed that she cared, carefully.
In conclusion, I would just like to say that I hope that more people will start taking the initiative like Charlie Rawlins did, and be able to understand that it is okay to admit that they have a problem and to ask for help if they truly need it. If you are embarrassed about your appearance, and know that you need to lose weight, it isn’t as hard as you think. It will be hard at first, but keeping a positive attitude and staying determined to reach your goal, then you will be able to succeed.
Kentucky town of Manchester Illustrates National Obesity Crisis (published in the Washington post, July
17th, 2010), by Author Wil Haygood Pages 406-416 of “They say I say” by Authors Gerald Graff, Cathy
Birkenstein, and Russel Durst.
Haygood, Wil. “Kentucky Town of Manchester Illustrates National Obesity Crisis” Washington Post, 2010 July 12.