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We’ve been sucked into a disgusting cycle: we pile on the pounds, chase them away on the treadmill, and then celebrate with junk food. Where is our balance?

I have a friend named Carolyn who lives in the hospital. Carolyn is 12 years old. She prefers the white-walled rooms to her home, because there she doesn’t have to go hungry.

At home, she doesn’t let herself eat. Food is a sweet-talking demon that haunts her mind and threatens her life. Her stomach rumbles 24 hours a day, a comforting lullaby to her starved brain. She sees World Vision commercials and remarks, “Those children are so lucky. They don’t have to eat.”

How twisted have we become? Jealous over bloated African children who would do anything for a crust of bread, while we’re regurgitating entire loaves? Something has to change.

CosmoGIRL!, Teen Vogue, YM, Seventeen… piles of wasted trees trashing up the perspectives of today’s North American children. Skinny models decorate the pages, bare bones jagged and useless, faces gaunt with disillusionment and hunger, ribs exposed for the world to count.

We’ve been suckered into a disgusting cycle: we pile on the pounds from chocolate bars and potato chips, drive through McDonald’s for a greasy heart-stopper, and top it all off with a Slurpee from 7-Eleven. Later, we race the treadmill for an hour, chasing away our guilt, only to plop in front of the television to gorge on celebratory ice cream and commercials.

Then there are those who veer to the other side of the health-highway: organic fruits and vegetables, extra lean beef, lite cheese, no-fat yogurt, no-calorie sodas, anti-oxidant tomatoes, polyunsaturated margarines, green teas, flourless bread and high doses of Omega 3, topped off with some salty Styrofoam snacks known as Rice Cakes.

What are we teaching our children? To choose between one of two extremes? Whatever happened to good old-fashioned balance?

Cut the cable cord, spend the summer on a farm, and work up an appetite growing your own food. Fill your offspring with nutrients and values that will strengthen their bones and nurture their minds.

Then maybe instead of being jealous of starving children overseas, this generation will weep in compassion for the unnecessary wealth we regurgitate every day.