Remember when you were younger and everywhere you went there was ‘peer pressure’. This influence (normally negative) that somehow encouraged you to change your attitude, or opinion on something, or your behavior and actions in order to ‘conform’ to what the group or individual doing the pressuring wanted.

The pressure to conform can be powerful and hard to resist. Who hasn’t felt pressure to do something just because others are doing it (or say they are). Peer pressure can influence a person to do something that is relatively harmless — or something that has more serious consequences. Giving in to the pressure to dress a certain way is one thing — going along with the crowd to drink or smoke is another.

Wouldn’t it be lovely if peer pressure was positive? Like, all the time. Or what if, what if we just didn’t conform? People conform to things due to lack of knowledge or because they want to be liked by other people around them. So lets talk about obesity. In fact, lets talk about obesity in our kids.

Society has changed in such a way that it is becoming harder and harder to maintain a normal weight. That’s fact, not conjecture. The World Health Organization (WHO) defines overweight and obesity as “abnormal or excessive fat accumulation that presents a risk to health” (WHO, 2014). Basically – if you eat too much and don’t exercise then you’re going to put on weight. And that is what is happening with our kids. In 2008, 15.1% of children were obese, 31.7% were overweight. That was 8 years ago. It’s not getting any better. So i’d rather not conform to that thanks.

What if we all said ‘hey McDonalds is full of SHIT, let’s not feed it to our kids’. Or what if we all agreed that although it’s easier to throw chicken nuggets in the oven, that actually it’s much better for us to make something from scratch. Hell, make chicken nuggets from scratch, anything is better than the ‘not actually meat’ chicken nuggets you get in the freezer aisle.

Children actually burn fat about 200% faster and more efficiently than we do, so technically they could eat McDonalds every day and not necessarily be affected. But it’s coupled with the fact we’re not moving enough either. Consumed with technology and TV and computer games, we’re not helping ourselves, or our future generations. And we’re labelling it – all kids should do an hour of moderate/intense physical activity 5 days a week. So 5 hours a week, that’s your quota. Feel free to do nothing the rest of the time. By labelling it surely we’re making it worse? What if the label was 10 hours? Or, now here’s a thought, what if we said there is NO limit to the amount of physical activity we should be allowing our children to do. If i’m going to conform to something, then i’d rather it be that.

Now it’s not easy. It is so so cheap to buy crap food. Fresh fruit and veg and all that ‘healthy’ stuff is expensive in comparison. It’s expensive on the NHS too though. We’re making provisions worth billions, based on the fact that our children are getting fatter. We’re actually building wards for kids to have Gastric Bypass Surgery. We’re increasing the budget on children having dental surgery to have teeth removed, decayed by Coke (other equally fizzy drinks are available). I’m happy to get off this train journey into obesity. Maybe we could all cancel our Sky subscriptions, that’ll help pay for the better food, and then instead of watching TV we could throw the delightful little sods out onto the street to play – two birds, one utility bill. Win win.

Obviously, in an ideal world we’d all do that. 7 days a week, 365 days a year. But maybe even two days a week we could be better? We could choose to actively not conform or bow down to peer pressure. It’s not a perfect solution, but we’re not in a perfect world. And given the choice between healthy kids and ones with increased chances of cancer, stroke and diabetes – i know which path i’m choosing.

Choose to not conform. Even just 2 days a week.

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