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Old 09-01-05, 11:13 PM   #1
InfamousG
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While eating dinner today I noticed a group of 5 kids (between 10 - 15) riding their bikes down the street. Now, maybe it's just me not noticing, but I have not seen kids ride their bikes in quite a while. Maybe 1 here, 1 there... nothing like "back in my day" (10 years ago).

I rode to baseball practice, I rode to football practice, I rode or walked to school (weather permitting), and I rode to friend's houses. The change has been very evident over the last few years.

At first, I called it pokemon syndrome. Kids would sit at home and play pokemon on their gameboy, get their parents to buy them packs of the trading cards, have their parents drive them to their friends house to play with their gameboys and trading cards... all with minimal activity.

Now, it's more tailored towards computer games such as Grand Theft Auto (which kids shouldn't be playing, but that's another story). They sit at home and play games where they drive in cars, do a quick run, then get in another car. 80-90% of the game is inside a vehicle.

Over the last 10 years, more and more young kids are being brought up in the "Automobile or bust" world. However, I think that this rise in gas prices might actually be beneficial to the youth. With parents trying to conserve fuel whenever possible, that trip to "Jimmy's house" can now suddenly be done on a bicycle. Spending the night at Joe's? Put a change of clothes in your backpack and pedal on over.

Is there anywhere that I could track month-to-month, quarter-to-quarter, or annual statistics on child-hood obesity? I'd like to track this theory. Especially since as more kids become reliant on being a passenger, less schools are teaching proper cycling safety. I think it needs to be addressed.
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Old 09-01-05, 11:21 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by InfamousG
Now, it's more tailored towards computer games such as Grand Theft Auto (which kids shouldn't be playing, but that's another story). They sit at home and play games where they drive in cars, do a quick run, then get in another car. 80-90% of the game is inside a vehicle.
The first skill/stat that I maxed to 100% was bicycling, then motorcycling I stopped playing it shortly afterwards.

As a kid back in the '80s and '90s I remember my friends and I riding our BMX bikes everywhere. We would pedal up our mountain roads, in the brush, to the parks, etc. I spoke with my co-workers and asked about why their kids don't ride bikes and they said they are afraid of kidnappings. Geeze, they all live in the suburbs, not the 'hood. I think parents are too fearful.

Also, I read somewhere at the average kid who watches T.V. ~3 hours or so a day is exposed to thousands of advertisings a year for sugar-laden and fat-laden sweets, snacks, candies, and cereals. I see kids drink soda like it was water. That's the problem - too much sugar, high fructose corn syrup, fatty & greasy "food", and inactivity. It's sad - they are the future leaders of our nation in 30 to 40 years...
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Old 09-01-05, 11:35 PM   #3
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Also, I read somewhere at the average kid who watches T.V. ~3 hours or so a day is exposed to thousands of advertisings a year for sugar-laden and fat-laden sweets, snacks, candies, and cereals. I see kids drink soda like it was water. That's the problem - too much sugar, high fructose corn syrup, fatty & greasy "food", and inactivity. It's sad - they are the future leaders of our nation in 30 to 40 years...
Something similar was quoted in "Supersize Me". Also, I think the sugar, HFCS, fatty foods, and inactivity go hand-in-hand. When I was a 8 years old having a Coke/Pepsi or Candy Bar was a "treat" and a "dinner spoiler". It was positive reinforcement for a job well done. Now, having a candy bar or a soda/pop is routine. The positive reinforcement comes from the satisfaction of finishing it, not from deserving it.
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Old 09-01-05, 11:39 PM   #4
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You know, with school starting up now in Sept, I wonder if parents - seeing how much it takes to fill their monster SUVs and HUMMERs (this is L.A.) - might decide to... gasp... walk to school with their little demons??? If it's a stay-at-home-mom, I could see this happening. But if both parents work, I doubt it.
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Old 09-02-05, 04:52 AM   #5
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Those huge SUV's cost in the $40-$60K range with rapid depreciation. The cost of gas is pretty irrelevant.
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Old 09-02-05, 05:08 AM   #6
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I have a 15 year old son. About 2 months ago we started charging him $1 each time we had to pick him (and his friends) up and cart them home.

It all started as a joke (with a little lesson built in). Soon his friends' parents got word and now they are also charging $1 per child to cart them around!

Last week they all decided to get their bikes (mostly BMX) out and ride to the places they wanted to go.

We noticed a big change in attitude (for the better). I don't think he has spend 2 hours on the X-Box in the last 2 weeks! Nice!
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Old 09-02-05, 05:32 AM   #7
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Yes, OP, of course! And this is why I notice for instance radio stations, whether to the Left or Right politically, calling for the government to remove gas taxes, remove environmental restrictions, etc - because those 'murrican kids might have to walk or bike somewhere and actually not be obese any more! And that would be terrible! It would make Mother's Little Butterball all hot and sweaty and tired! Waah!
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Old 09-02-05, 05:57 AM   #8
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If they stay high fr a while sure it would have a effect. But at some point people would get use to the high prices and it would be buiss as useal. . Course it could also be long enough for the kids to get in to new habbits. Maybe they tart rideing to school with their friends and instead of stoping when their parrents can drive them they keep riding.
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Old 09-02-05, 07:30 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by phinney
Those huge SUV's cost in the $40-$60K range with rapid depreciation. The cost of gas is pretty irrelevant.
Definately

you think it bothers anyone with a 100k car, $1,000 shoes, and $500 sunglasses that it costs $120 to fill their SUV?
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Old 09-02-05, 07:39 AM   #10
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Definately

you think it bothers anyone with a 100k car, $1,000 shoes, and $500 sunglasses that it costs $120 to fill their SUV?
YES. You should hear my co-workers complain - especially since they bought all that crap on credit!
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Old 09-02-05, 08:31 AM   #11
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YES. You should hear my co-workers complain - especially since they bought all that crap on credit!
Heh, exactly what I was going to say. WTF is with people, anyway? I will never, ever understand the whole "keeping up" phenomenon. My friends have HDTVs but do I? No. Why? I think they're overpriced. Would I like one? Sure. I'd also like to fly first-class everywhere but I don't.

(OTOH they think a $900 bicycle, decently priced by my standards, is expensive ).
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Old 09-02-05, 08:43 AM   #12
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Well, if your car note is $500 per month, and your fuel cost increases from $250 per month to $500 per month, then that's pretty big stressor as far as I'm concerned !


Quote:
Originally Posted by phinney
Those huge SUV's cost in the $40-$60K range with rapid depreciation. The cost of gas is pretty irrelevant.
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Old 09-02-05, 09:36 AM   #13
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Could push either direction. Examples:

Reduce obesity:

Kids ride or walk instead of riding in the car. Extreem (but possible) result is that kids actually find they like the walking or biking either for it's own sake of the freedom of getting anywhere their legs can take them.

Increase obesity:

Less fewer rides, as in no rides to soccer practice that is 10 miles away or dance class 15 miles. The net result no soccer practice, no dance class. All these get replaced by video games.
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Old 09-02-05, 11:15 AM   #14
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I'm thinking that there are way too many variables to make any direct correlation between obesity and gas prices. It's an interesting theory, but you can't factor out variables such as exercise, economics, and education. For some families this could be just a little inconvenience, as others have stated, and for others it could be life altering.
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Old 09-02-05, 04:01 PM   #15
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Fot the ammount of time, money and effort that goes into school bussing i've always wondered why we don't put similar energy into alternatives. Buss routes of less than 5-10 miles for instance.
Since we're concerned about safety have adults work as a school commute ride leaders just like when i was a kid they had someone walk with groups of us.
(Actually a parent organized bike commute group to school sounds like a good project. Design a route that passes by the kids houses... might be interesting.)


Anyway, when gas gets more expensive or worse, just too short to fuel the busses i wonder if we'll go back to having kids walk a mile or two to school.
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Old 09-02-05, 04:16 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jharte
I have a 15 year old son. About 2 months ago we started charging him $1 each time we had to pick him (and his friends) up and cart them home.

It all started as a joke (with a little lesson built in). Soon his friends' parents got word and now they are also charging $1 per child to cart them around!

Last week they all decided to get their bikes (mostly BMX) out and ride to the places they wanted to go.

We noticed a big change in attitude (for the better). I don't think he has spend 2 hours on the X-Box in the last 2 weeks! Nice!
In many ways I like your idea. And I love the effect so far.

BUT

You might want to fast forward a bit. Let's say 18 and possibly trying beer or stronger stuff. At that point you might want to do what many others have done and tell him you will pick him up any time any place rather than have him drive even a little buzzed.

Perhaps for now what you might want to do is modify things a bit and tell him that if there is a good reason, like let's say the bike breaks and he does not sure of the repairs he can make, that the ride is free. Add on that you are always happy to take the call and commit to a freebie before you come out. (Perhaps you have already done this or something like it. Perhaps you think this is understood. If the later just make it explicit to be sure.)
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Old 09-02-05, 05:04 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jharte
I have a 15 year old son. About 2 months ago we started charging him $1 each time we had to pick him (and his friends) up and cart them home.
My mom did the same thing when I was growing up. I have never been grounded but I've sure had some hefty fines. I think it's a great way to instill values without getting in fights a lot. I also had a budget every week for food or whatever and now I know how to budget because of this (as opposed to some other college friends who have student loans but have no idea how much they can spend a week).

Quote:
Originally Posted by Treespeed
I'm thinking that there are way too many variables to make any direct correlation between obesity and gas prices. It's an interesting theory, but you can't factor out variables such as exercise, economics, and education. For some families this could be just a little inconvenience, as others have stated, and for others it could be life altering.
This is very true. I think as a whole if the American transportation system has to change because of high gas prices then there may be an effect. I think the main thing that will get kids out of the house biking and walking is if parents will STOP WATCHING THE NEWS AND READ A NEWSPAPER. I've heard a lot of parents say they worry about their kids' safety and they don't want them getting abducted. The odds this will happen are very slim. A big part of the problem is that when you watch the news they sensationalize every abduction story and makes it seem like there is an abduction epidemic. Really though we all are seeing stories from across the nation.

Oh, and Treespeed, I'm on a crusade to get people to call ideas like that a "hypothesis" and not a "theory" because I've heard way too many people call evolution "just a theory." Well, gravity is also "just a theory." Just the science nerd in me, I don't mean to be a jerk.
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Old 09-02-05, 05:40 PM   #18
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Oh, and Treespeed, I'm on a crusade to get people to call ideas like that a "hypothesis" and not a "theory" because I've heard way too many people call evolution "just a theory." Well, gravity is also "just a theory." Just the science nerd in me, I don't mean to be a jerk.
Good point, thank you for the correction. But then wouldn't you agree that infamous g's hypothesis seems a little flimsy?
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Old 09-02-05, 08:05 PM   #19
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I would say it's a good idea, it's just a little weak because it would be so hard to tell if it's just gas prices that are affecting childhood obesity rates. But I have noticed that kids now all have engines on all of their toys. When did kids stop biking and start riding motorbikes and quads?
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Old 09-02-05, 08:12 PM   #20
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Perhaps for now what you might want to do is modify things a bit and tell him that if there is a good reason...
Because it's important for teenagers to understand that their parents will bail them out of any uncomfortable situations.
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Old 09-06-05, 09:13 AM   #21
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I'm new here and I certainly don't want to offend anyone. That said, I don't think that gas prices have anything to do with child obesity - parents do!

My husband and I are the proud parents of a brilliant 9 yr. old boy. Our son is into video games, TV and Yu-Gi-Oh BIG TIME - like most kids today - but we limit how much time he can spend with those pursuits. Sodas ARE a treat and good ole' fashioned H20 is the beverage offered when he comes in sweaty from playing. Call us evil but we also make our son clean his bathroom/bedroom once a week as well as other little chores around the house. We try to teach him the value of a dollar, how to save and how to budget for things he wants to spend his allowance on. To summarize, we try to do right by him so that when he goes out on his own, he will be a contributing member of society - honest and responsible.

The gas prices have certainly inspired our family. My son and I have started commuting via bike to school. I have started using my bike for all errands that don't require the car (i.e. quick trips to the grocery when a 40 lb. bag of dog food isn't on the list). And this morning, I am happy to report that we all used our bikes to get to work/school - yup, I've even gotten my husband to pedal to work. Woo hoo!

The coolest thing is that since we've been biking, my son has not complained once about riding to school instead of driving. In fact, he prefers it. We are very proud of him to say the least!

So, we're not looking to pat ourselves on the back or anything.. My point is that, barring medical complications, parents are at fault for obese kids and the soaring gas prices have nothing to do with it. Now if we could just think of a 'polite' way to get these folks off their swelling behinds....
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Old 09-06-05, 11:20 AM   #22
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I hope that there is some benefit to the higher fuel prices. If it gets more people on bicycles, that would be fabulous.

I don't think that we will see kids get healthier as a result, however. What is likely to happen first is that people will change their diets to cheaper, fattier, starchier foods to make up for the increased fuel expenditures. Remember, for most Americans, there simply is no other choice - they HAVE to drive automobiles or be stranded like lame ducks. Something is going to have to give and that something is likely to be diet.

I have been a bicycle commuter for many years and rarely drive a car. We do have a teen-age son who absolutely refuses to bicycle. It is some combination of not being cool and being lazy. I still can't see how getting a ride from your mother is more cool than getting their by your own steam on a bicycle - ah, today's youth.

Anyway, I made a a family announcement last night that EVERYBODY was going to have to do more bicycling for transport because fuel prices were getting so high. It is a good enough excuse for me.

Let's hope that these fuel price increases have some benefits for Americans.
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