Engineering...Beyond the Classroom Blog

Engineering...Beyond the Classroom

The Engineering...Beyond the Classroom Blog focuses on engineering issues that are important to students and faculty regarding educational. Converse about educational or research technologies, tools of the student or teacher trade, curriculum and coursework, or myriad other topics that turn bright students into brilliant engineers.

Previous in Blog: A Perfect Storm of Fuel and Fat (Part 1)   Next in Blog: Back to School: Teaching Students About the Value of Education
Close
Close
Close
21 comments

A Perfect Storm of Fuel and Fat (Part 2)

Posted August 26, 2008 6:00 AM by ShakespeareTheEngineer

In Part I of this series, we examined how the combination of childhood obesity, rising fuel costs, and the real estate slump are causing school districts budgetary nightmares. So how else are these problems making each other worse – and our lives more difficult?

Living Large and Commuting Longer

Americans are feeling the pinch of a struggling economy as housing values fall and gas prices rise. Just eighteen months ago, gasoline was less than $3.00 per gallon and the housing market was booming. Some grumbled about the "high" cost of gas, but most were unconcerned about financing their commutes.

Then reality set in that record housing prices and (what now seems like) reasonable fuel prices wouldn't last forever. Sellers found it increasingly difficult to break even, and home buyers became scarce. The result is that many people can't afford to move closer to work or where their children attended school. They'd like to spend less on gasoline, but they can't.

Buried in debt and saddled with a suddenly upside-down mortgage, many families believe that moving is not an option. With every jump at the pump, a recently- purchased SUV probably feels like another weight around an already-burdened neck. And it's easier to trade-in a car than sell a home.

For students living in spread-out suburbs, walking to and from school is not a realistic option. At the same time, busing becomes increasingly important for parents who are trying to minimize driving. And for the increasing number of students who are already obese, choosing to walk has not been part of a youth culture that spends more time sitting down than ever before.

Adolescent Obesity Causes More than Health Problems

It's no secret that childhood obesity is a major health issue facing American children. Between 1960 and 1973, the rate of adolescents whose body mass index (or BMI) was over the 95th percentile rose from 4.6% to 6.1%. By 1999 - 2000, that number had ballooned to 15.5%. Many see this trend worsening as students become ever more hooked on sedentary activities such as video games, computer use, and increased use of cell phones.

Schools have been called upon to provide more nutritious, lower-calorie food choices and to get rid of vending machines that offer only high-sugar, high-calorie snacks and beverages. Of course, as any grocery shopper can tell you, nutritious food is more expensive than junk food.

As schools get with the program to address America's obesity epidemic, their food expenses are also rising. With the price of staples such as milk also skyrocketing, that grocery bill continues to increase. Rising prices for school lunches, coupled with increasing numbers of students on free or reduced lunch programs, will minimize revenues for paying higher fuel bills.

Supersize Your Mileage

Theoretically, food and fuel costs would decrease if there was a way to make driving more efficient and to reduce fuel consumption without special equipment or additives. Enthusiasts are looking for ways to make this happen. Thus a potential solution for all drivers known as hypermiling was born.

In the final installment of this three-part series, we'll look at the impact that hypermiling brings and examine a possible solution for both childhood obesity and high fuel costs.

Resources:

http://www.findingdulcinea.com/news/Americas/June-08/Gas-Prices-Force-Schools-to-Cut-Busing.html

http://blogs.webmd.com/heart-disease/2008/03/disconnect-in-childhood-obesity.html

Reply

Interested in this topic? By joining CR4 you can "subscribe" to
this discussion and receive notification when new comments are added.

Comments rated to be Good Answers:

These comments received enough positive ratings to make them "good answers".
2
Guru

Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: Tech Valley, NY
Posts: 4366
Good Answers: 15
#1

Re: A Perfect Storm of Fuel and Fat (Part 2)

08/26/2008 9:17 AM

I am afraid that one of these days everything is going to come crashing down around us. The suburban sprawl was bound to have consequences like this. Here in NY's Capital Region, I got fuel for $3.83 and celebrated - but then again, it only takes me 15 minutes to get to work. If I were on the school board trying to figure out how to get "growing" kids to school, I probably wouldn't have celebrated.

In regards to the obesity - we, as Americans, are hooked on sugar [Sharkespeare - you know how much I put in my coffee!]. A lot of kids are being raised with soda and candy, starting at a young age. It's not always bad, but I can't help shuddering when I see a two-year old drinking soda. I grew up with these things too, but in moderation. These days it's so much easier (and cheaper) to stock the cupboards with chips, cookies, and coca-cola than to get them to make healthier choices about when and what to eat. [Note: I'm not saying chips and cookies are always bad. I love them as much as anyone else.] Also, who needs a babysitter when TV and video games are around? Change needs to start in the home.

__________________
Sharkles
Reply Good Answer (Score 2)
Guru
Technical Fields - Education - Seasoned Vet in the Classroom United States - Member -

Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: Troy, NY
Posts: 762
Good Answers: 19
#2
In reply to #1

Re: A Perfect Storm of Fuel and Fat (Part 2)

08/26/2008 9:20 AM

But how do you mandate that is always the problem. Like I always say, you should be able to marry whoever you want and need a license to have a kid.

There is no way to enforce a healthy lifestyle in the home. I am all about freedom to live like you want to live, but it is indeed starting to infringe on the rights of others.

__________________
StE - "For 'tis the sport to have the enginer/Hoist with his own petard" -Hamlet Act III, scene 4, 202–209
Reply
Guru

Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: Tech Valley, NY
Posts: 4366
Good Answers: 15
#3
In reply to #2

Re: A Perfect Storm of Fuel and Fat (Part 2)

08/26/2008 9:30 AM

I definitely agree that it cannot be enforced, but you would think that parents would want their kids to be healthier. Isn't it alarming to watch a child gain an alarming amount of weight? Or knowing that they rarely go outside to play?

I'm not a parent, so I don't know what it's like to be responsible for someone else's well being - but I do have a cat, whom I've recently told to "lay off the treats"...I don't think that counts though.

__________________
Sharkles
Reply
Guru
Technical Fields - Education - Seasoned Vet in the Classroom United States - Member -

Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: Troy, NY
Posts: 762
Good Answers: 19
#4
In reply to #3

Re: A Perfect Storm of Fuel and Fat (Part 2)

08/26/2008 10:01 AM

Unfortunately, too many parents use the "well, that's how it was for me" without weighing if that scenario is in the best interest of the child.

My dad was really tough on me about grades. That did wonders for my work ethic as a kid and ended with great results.

He is also not very active, and did not force exercise on myself or any of my siblings. I have always loved sports, so as a kid I was really lean and in great shape. But that was my own motivation. That was not the same for all members of my family and weight became an issue for some.

If you have a parent who loves to sit in front of the tube and eat high fat food, they aren't going to have an easy time trying to get their kids to do otherwise. Firstly, because the kids will call them on it and fighting them is not the path of least resistance (and all too popular as a parenting philosophy). Secondly, there is no modeling of appropriate meals and what parent is going to make healthy for for their kids and eat garbage themselves.

Finally, cost, as you mention, will always be an issue. It is why obesity is an even bigger problem with the impoverished.

__________________
StE - "For 'tis the sport to have the enginer/Hoist with his own petard" -Hamlet Act III, scene 4, 202–209
Reply
Guru
United States - Member - New Member Engineering Fields - Electrical Engineering - New Member

Join Date: Jul 2008
Posts: 1160
Good Answers: 36
#9
In reply to #3

Re: A Perfect Storm of Fuel and Fat (Part 2)

08/26/2008 2:39 PM

The problem is that their parents AREN'T there for their kids as much these days. When both parents work 8-10 hours a day with commute - how can they control certain aspects of their kids life? Parents don't have time these days to pay close attention to their kids. When they are home, the parents don't want to go outside of play - not after a long day of work, they want to sit down and relax and THAT is what their kids see. They can tell them to stop eating so much junk food - but they can only really provide supervision while they are at home, which usually isn't enough (by any means) to curb a kids desire for sweets.

Cat = Kid... Hmmm I want to see the mathematic proof

Reply
Guru
Technical Fields - Education - Seasoned Vet in the Classroom United States - Member -

Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: Troy, NY
Posts: 762
Good Answers: 19
#10
In reply to #9

Re: A Perfect Storm of Fuel and Fat (Part 2)

08/26/2008 2:42 PM

Parents don't have time these days to pay close attention to their kids.

Crazy thought: if they are in that type of situation and they can't get quality supervision to help them raise a kid, maybe they shouldn't have kids

__________________
StE - "For 'tis the sport to have the enginer/Hoist with his own petard" -Hamlet Act III, scene 4, 202–209
Reply
Guru
Hobbies - CNC - New Member Hobbies - DIY Welding - New Member Engineering Fields - Electromechanical Engineering - New Member

Join Date: Aug 2007
Posts: 22774
Good Answers: 411
#11
In reply to #10

Re: A Perfect Storm of Fuel and Fat (Part 2)

08/26/2008 2:48 PM

Try telling someone else how they should raise thier kids? dee what happens........, but I agree with you.

__________________
“ When people get what they want, they are often surprised when they get what they deserve " - James Wood
Reply Off Topic (Score 5)
Guru
Technical Fields - Education - Seasoned Vet in the Classroom United States - Member -

Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: Troy, NY
Posts: 762
Good Answers: 19
#12
In reply to #11

Re: A Perfect Storm of Fuel and Fat (Part 2)

08/26/2008 3:11 PM

That is exactly my point. No one wants to be told how to raise his or her kids. That I know all too well from experience!


The problem is, like I see on shows like SuperNanny or even It's Me or the Dog, when it comes to training/teaching a living thing, just being alive yourself doesn't make you competent automatically!

__________________
StE - "For 'tis the sport to have the enginer/Hoist with his own petard" -Hamlet Act III, scene 4, 202–209
Reply Off Topic (Score 5)
Guru
Hobbies - CNC - New Member Hobbies - DIY Welding - New Member Engineering Fields - Electromechanical Engineering - New Member

Join Date: Aug 2007
Posts: 22774
Good Answers: 411
#13
In reply to #12

Re: A Perfect Storm of Fuel and Fat (Part 2)

08/26/2008 3:33 PM

I felt your point a few posts back, I agree with just being alive yourself doesn't make you competent automatically!

__________________
“ When people get what they want, they are often surprised when they get what they deserve " - James Wood
Reply Off Topic (Score 5)
Guru
Technical Fields - Education - Seasoned Vet in the Classroom United States - Member -

Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: Troy, NY
Posts: 762
Good Answers: 19
#14
In reply to #13

Re: A Perfect Storm of Fuel and Fat (Part 2)

08/26/2008 3:55 PM

Ha! Sorry. I guess redundancy comes as a second nature after so many years working in education.

__________________
StE - "For 'tis the sport to have the enginer/Hoist with his own petard" -Hamlet Act III, scene 4, 202–209
Reply Off Topic (Score 5)
Guru
Hobbies - CNC - New Member Hobbies - DIY Welding - New Member Engineering Fields - Electromechanical Engineering - New Member

Join Date: Aug 2007
Posts: 22774
Good Answers: 411
#15
In reply to #14

Re: A Perfect Storm of Fuel and Fat (Part 2)

08/26/2008 4:02 PM

No a problem, I need a refresher courses now and again, it does one good.

__________________
“ When people get what they want, they are often surprised when they get what they deserve " - James Wood
Reply Off Topic (Score 5)
Guru
Hobbies - CNC - New Member Hobbies - DIY Welding - New Member Engineering Fields - Electromechanical Engineering - New Member

Join Date: Aug 2007
Posts: 22774
Good Answers: 411
#5
In reply to #1

Re: A Perfect Storm of Fuel and Fat (Part 2)

08/26/2008 1:09 PM

Change needs to start in the home.

Exactly, and to stick with it. No matter how much the kid whines or throw a tantrum.

And if your child challenges you. Do not cave in, no matter what the costs. Cave in once, and they learn from it.

__________________
“ When people get what they want, they are often surprised when they get what they deserve " - James Wood
Reply
Guru
Technical Fields - Education - Seasoned Vet in the Classroom United States - Member -

Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: Troy, NY
Posts: 762
Good Answers: 19
#6
In reply to #5

Re: A Perfect Storm of Fuel and Fat (Part 2)

08/26/2008 1:14 PM

Do not cave in, no matter what the costs. Cave in once, and they learn from it.

If a dog can figure out how quickly that you cave in (I gave my dog table scraps in '97 and she still begs even though it's been 11 years - just in case I cave again), think how easy it is for a kid to see how quickly you give in with a protest.

It is why my sisters and I always targeted my mom for things we wanted to get away with and never even bothered with my dad.

__________________
StE - "For 'tis the sport to have the enginer/Hoist with his own petard" -Hamlet Act III, scene 4, 202–209
Reply
Guru
Hobbies - CNC - New Member Hobbies - DIY Welding - New Member Engineering Fields - Electromechanical Engineering - New Member

Join Date: Aug 2007
Posts: 22774
Good Answers: 411
#7
In reply to #6

Re: A Perfect Storm of Fuel and Fat (Part 2)

08/26/2008 1:40 PM

your right,

I'm not a parent, My girlfriend has (2) girls in the house. their dad is a pushover, (they walk all over him) and their mom was also but shes starting to put the hammer down.

They slowly worked me into the picture and I caved in (3) times. When I releazed was being used I became the hard ass. Makes it easier on their mother.

I remember I was growing up, I had a twin sister. we knew to ask my mom, and chances were better we would get what we wanted.

Remember, Don't cave in, and do as I say, not as I do.

__________________
“ When people get what they want, they are often surprised when they get what they deserve " - James Wood
Reply
Guru
Technical Fields - Education - Seasoned Vet in the Classroom United States - Member -

Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: Troy, NY
Posts: 762
Good Answers: 19
#8
In reply to #7

Re: A Perfect Storm of Fuel and Fat (Part 2)

08/26/2008 2:09 PM

do as I say, not as I do.

That was a favorite of my dad's. A smoker with a hard core stance against his kids smoking, I think I heard that line more than my own name as a kid!

__________________
StE - "For 'tis the sport to have the enginer/Hoist with his own petard" -Hamlet Act III, scene 4, 202–209
Reply
Guru
Engineering Fields - Retired Engineers / Mentors - New Member

Join Date: Dec 2006
Location: Brecksville, OH
Posts: 1607
Good Answers: 18
#18
In reply to #1

Re: A Perfect Storm of Fuel and Fat (Part 2)

08/27/2008 10:23 AM

"Change needs to start in the home." Couldn't agree with you more.

I believe many things need to change in our society if it is to survive, but the most important of them is the need for parents to learn their "responsibility" towards the children they bring into this world.

Btw, I spoke to my physician a few months ago and he mentioned to me a study recently made that showed the amount of excess food consumed in the USA. Turns out that we consume 5X the amount of food necessary to make the body function properly. As a result of that comment, it would appear that we could solve numerous issues beyond obesity (ie: transportation, energy consumption, etc) if we just reduced our intake to viable levels by using "push aways".

__________________
"Consensus Science got us into this mess, then why can't it get us out?" : Rephrase of Will Rogers Comment
Reply
Guru
Technical Fields - Education - Seasoned Vet in the Classroom United States - Member -

Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: Troy, NY
Posts: 762
Good Answers: 19
#19
In reply to #18

Re: A Perfect Storm of Fuel and Fat (Part 2)

08/27/2008 10:32 AM

You know, I hear this all of the time and while I agree, the problem is that it is not happening. And I don't know how to make it happen unless major media outlets REALLY get on board and make it "cool" to raise your kids with values that will help them be healthy and well adjusted, not just rabid consumers.

And I just don't see that happening.

__________________
StE - "For 'tis the sport to have the enginer/Hoist with his own petard" -Hamlet Act III, scene 4, 202–209
Reply
Guru

Join Date: Apr 2008
Location: Chicago
Posts: 3989
Good Answers: 144
#16

Re: A Perfect Storm of Fuel and Fat (Part 2)

08/27/2008 1:18 AM

I have dramatically simple yet sublimely accurate view on the diet. I've been able to go from 6' - 210-220+? back down to an incredibly healthy 165 +/- So basically I've shed ALL of my extra weight.. which is far more than i dreamed would ever happen

I'm sure that my somewhat controversial views have had a positive effect on the heath and lifestyle of several friends who have heard me out when I've been in a chatty mood.

Even though they are only words, some people become a little embroiled if I go into the analogous extensions.. and that's all it is.. So I don't talk about it much, but when I do... I'll be sure to let you know.

People only need to shift their thinking.

it can happen.. if it does..

health will run rampent.. hospitals and big pharm will downsize.. heart disease and nearly all medical problems would all disapear over two or three generations

btw... in the last few days I've eaten a ton of pizza.. cake... ice cream.. some pretty rough stuff.. but.. hey.. I've got this eatin' stuff down.

hungry? no

suffering? no

burgers fries and a coke

easy stuff

__________________
High Tolerance is Beautiful
Reply
Guru
Technical Fields - Education - Seasoned Vet in the Classroom United States - Member -

Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: Troy, NY
Posts: 762
Good Answers: 19
#17
In reply to #16

Re: A Perfect Storm of Fuel and Fat (Part 2)

08/27/2008 8:08 AM

I would love to see health run rampant.

How do you make that happen???

__________________
StE - "For 'tis the sport to have the enginer/Hoist with his own petard" -Hamlet Act III, scene 4, 202–209
Reply
Guru

Join Date: Apr 2008
Location: Chicago
Posts: 3989
Good Answers: 144
#20
In reply to #17

Re: A Perfect Storm of Fuel and Fat (Part 2)

08/27/2008 11:29 AM

education - it can be a strong motivation

__________________
High Tolerance is Beautiful
Reply
Guru
Technical Fields - Education - Seasoned Vet in the Classroom United States - Member -

Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: Troy, NY
Posts: 762
Good Answers: 19
#21
In reply to #20

Re: A Perfect Storm of Fuel and Fat (Part 2)

08/27/2008 11:36 AM

Agreed. But in this case, I would think parents would need to be the target and I don't know how we, as a society, can target the majority thoroughly enough to make a difference.

It might have to be a community by community initiative.

How about only having internet access/cable access available for a certain number of hours a week? Can you imagine the revolt???

__________________
StE - "For 'tis the sport to have the enginer/Hoist with his own petard" -Hamlet Act III, scene 4, 202–209
Reply
Reply to Blog Entry 21 comments
Interested in this topic? By joining CR4 you can "subscribe" to
this discussion and receive notification when new comments are added.

Comments rated to be Good Answers:

These comments received enough positive ratings to make them "good answers".
Copy to Clipboard

Users who posted comments:

agua_doc (1); Jaxy (1); JE in Chicago (2); phoenix911 (5); ShakespeareTheEngineer (10); Sharkles (2)

Previous in Blog: A Perfect Storm of Fuel and Fat (Part 1)   Next in Blog: Back to School: Teaching Students About the Value of Education
You might be interested in: Fuel Cells, Fuel Testers

Advertisement