Once upon a time, there was a course of study that addressed cooking, nutrition, food preservation, hygiene, along with other relevant topics to managing a household. It was called home economics, and it appears to have fallen out of favor in our fast-paced, modern world.
Here’s the paradox: while healthy eating has never been more popular than it is now, there is a concomitant obesity epidemic in America. What’s up with that?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:
- More than one-third of U.S. adults (35.7%) are obese.
- Obesity-related conditions include heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and certain types of cancer, some of the leading causes of preventable death.
- In 2008, medical costs associated with obesity were estimated at $147 billion; the medical costs for people who are obese were $1,429 higher than those of normal weight.
- By state, obesity prevalence ranged from 20.7% in Colorado to 34.9% in Mississippi in 2011. No state had a prevalence of obesity less than 20%. 39 states had a prevalence of 25% or more; 12 of these states had a prevalence of 30% or more: Alabama, Arkansas, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas, and West Virginia.
Of all countries, America has the highest rate of obesity. Yet we are bombarded with messages about organic foods and the value of fresh, unprocessed food. Where’s the breakdown?
Our love for hamburgers, fries, soft drinks, and sweets, among many other foods that are considered bad for us, is partially to blame. Plus, we are all in such a rush that we do not take time to prepare healthy meals and sit down together to enjoy them.
But wait, that presupposes that we know enough about good food and its proper preparation to make a difference. I believe that we have lost much of that knowledge and ability and/or are too busy to deal with it.
Therefore, home economics should be required for both boys and girls. Men have every bit of responsibility to learn how to select and prepare healthy foods as do women.
We all must eat. We all must manage households, too. Why not require young men and women to learn some basics of home economics? It could only help students prepare for life and perhaps a much healthier life, too.
There is no gender stereotyping in my suggestion that young people should be required to take home economics. Quite the contrary. Men need this knowledge every bit as much as women. All Americans would benefit from home economics study.