Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Clear message (but mixed metaphor)

Mens sana in corpore sano [1]. This Latin quotation’s from a poem written around 100 CE by Juvenal [2]. It translates as ‘A healthy mind in a healthy body’. I reckon few people have both a healthy mind and a healthy body. I have neither. But no argument from me that a healthy body and healthy mind’s a worthy ideal. Young people are likeliest to have both – because their minds are developing, and they’e not old enough for their bodies to have been wracked by their lives’ vicissitudes. But accumulating evidence shows the bodies of average young Australians aren’t healthy [3, 4]. Recent survey data shows that among year 8-11 students 25% are overweight or obese, 85% aren’t sufficiently physically active, and 76% and 59% don’t meet the advised dietary guidelines for vegetables and fruit respectively. Damning, eh. For these kids, to hell with mens sana in corpore sano. This is a massive problem with massive implications for our nation’s future. So it must be tackled. Self evidently leaving it to the youngsters themselves and/or their parents isn’t working. So governments and perhaps NGOs must make the running (pun intended). Or cycling. ‘National Ride2School Day’ was last Wednesday [5, 6, 7]. As Neil Armstrong said in another context ‘That’s one small step…’ [8] But as Chinese philosopher Lao-tsu said over 600 years before Juvenal: ‘A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step’ [9]. Ho hum.

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