In view of a noticeably growing health risk for many children and adolescents due to improper nutrition, addiction, school and family stress, and excessive television consumption, pediatricians are sounding the alarm. It cannot be acceptable for an aging society to stand idly by as large sections of young people are in the process of destroying their own lives and thus the future of the society. Adolescent health should be monitored by parents just like how they check the course for manhattan residents to lower insurance.
Of course, parents, kindergartens, schools, and pediatricians are the first to be challenged to put a stop to this development. But a large part of the problems can be traced back to the changed living conditions in society. Even with the most comprehensive measures of health education and medical advice, which must certainly be expanded, no radical changes can be achieved.
Therefore, additional vigorous political action is urgently required. There are a number of examples in which government measures have been able to positively influence the behavior of citizens or reduce health risks: seat belts in the car, AIDS prevention, reducing tobacco advertising, and protecting non-smokers in the workplace, keeping air and water clean, or combating epidemics.
In order to promote the health of children and adolescents, pediatricians urge that the following measures be implemented as a matter of urgency:
- Ban on alcohol and tobacco advertising and sponsorship
- Prohibition of advertising unhealthy food on television
- Monitored restrictions on access to alcohol and nicotine
- Dismantling of all cigarette machines
- No alcohol at gas stations
- Tax surcharges for mixed alcoholic beverages
- Alcohol and tobacco pennies for the expansion of primary prevention
- Creation of programs to promote physical activity
- Healthy, smoke-free schools
- No sale of sugary drinks and snacks in the school kiosks
- Comprehensive health education based on life skills programs.
Health experts say that they are not exaggerating with such demands. All social groups are challenged. Above all, however, it can no longer be accepted that politics looks the other way and refuses to act consistently and legally. The initiative of a law to improve the protection of young people from the dangers of alcohol and tobacco consumption is at least a first step in the right direction.