We live in the “Age of Irony.” So, if I told you a healthy lifestyle-promoting pediatrician conducted a raffle offering a video game as top prize, you’d say, “How ironic.” But, what if this video game was a Wii Fit, which demands physical stamina and burns calories? Well, you’d have to get your irony fix elsewhere.
Dr. Marc Freed held the raffle at his booth at SummerFest. Freed and his crew were measuring the body mass index of children, handing out surveys to gauge the healthiness of their lifestyles and taking in 300 entries for the raffle contest.
The Berwyn physician sees childhood obesity as a national epidemic and a local crisis. He estimates 30-40 percent of the patients he sees are obese. He’s supporting the White House 5210 Program: 5 fruits a day, 2 hours of screen time, 1 hour of activity and 0 sweets. Every pediatrician is concerned about obesity, Freed said, because it can lead to diabetes and hypertension.
Freed’s booth was across from the giant slide on Madison Street. That was the Friday night destination of Renee Reggans and her daughters Kaila, 8, and Kelis, 4. When Kaila heard about the raffle, she persuaded her mother to enter. After Renee’s form was drawn, Kaila declared, “God blessed us.”
Renee and her girls were already blessed with an appetite for exercise. They used to jog through Columbus Park, before Renee realized her dream of moving to Forest Park. Now, they run laps around the Proviso East track. When the girls aren’t jogging, they’re taking turns on Renee’s elliptical machine.
Now, they have something more than that machine for indoor workouts. The Wii offers simulated baseball, bowling and boxing. You can also play tennis, gyrate inside a hula-hoop, or practice your ski jumping. It gives the girls sports they can play on a rainy day.
Wii players stand on an exercise board that measures calorie consumption. So, after a giant steel ball knocks Kaila off the obstacle course, she’s comforted by how many calories she burned trying to survive. The Wii also offers grueling competition.
I took them on in the ski jump and executed a shaky landing, while the girls wiped out and turned into giant snowballs. I didn’t, however, even try to out-twirl them with the hula-hoop. I missed almost every gate in the ski slalom but came in second, just ahead of Kelis. Then there was the soccer game – heading balls, while avoiding flying shoes – that gave us all a headache.
Renee’s favorite sport on the Wii is boxing and it left her sore for a week. I know what she meant. My legs felt like I’d actually swooshed down a giant slalom.
So, a pediatrician gives a fitness game to a family that is already highly motivated to exercise. Is that ironic, or a perfect fit?