This Sunday, drop by the Primary (the LDS children’s organization) and look at the children as they sing during opening exercises. Then consider that one in every three of them may develop diabetes during their lifetime. This will very likely be a contributing factor in their premature death and will contribute to a significantly reduced quality of life. Some of these children may develop Type 2 diabetes (often called “adult onset” – representing over 90% of diabetes cases) long before they become adults. Once they get diabetes, it means a lifetime of expensive management of the disease and the constant risk of complications.
Most of this suffering is preventable. About 80% of type 2 diabetes is preventable by adopting a healthy diet and increasing physical activity. But so many children are at risk because they eat so much junk food, living on empty carbs while getting little exercise. Some of the children you look at this Sunday will soon be victims of the debilitating disease, diabetes. So why not bring a plate of brownies or a bag of candy and pass it around?
One parent recently told me how difficult it is to teach good nutrition to his children and keep them on healthy diets, because his efforts seem countered at every turn by well-meaning authority figures. Primary children are often rewarded with cookies, candy, brownies, etc. Ward socials, baptisms, and other events involve high-sugar foods and sometimes little else. And then outside of our sugar-coated religion, school teachers reward kids with candy and sweets, and numerous other events involve sugar-based refreshments. The word “refreshment” is now synonymous with empty carbs.
In a Church that places great emphasis on health (the Word of Wisdom) and provident living, it seems most improvident of us to be promoting unhealthy diets that can cause our people to suffer from the largely avoidable plague of diabetes.
Are we really building up our wards, or are we building up a future diabetes ward in the way we “reward” and “motivate” our young people?