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Friday, July 10, 2015

Are cold New Zealand homes really the main cause of child ill health, or is it something else?

Let me start this essay with a photo of me from about 1961, living in Putaruru with next to nothing in the way of modern comforts, including a warm home.  Bare feet today and cold homes are synonymous with child poverty.

Here's the temperature in our living room today while I am typing this article.  I know, this is ridiculously cold but it is warmer than our Central Nth Island home was in winter during the 1950's and 60's.  We had no insulation at all, just scrim and wall paper over the walls and one open fire to heat the entire house.  I can remember the day Dad came home with a Shacklock Conray bar heater. 

Here are five of the 6 Mollers from about 1962 with our Sunday best clothing.  Barefoot was the norm.  More a sign back then of an active and very healthy outdoors lifestyle, than of poverty.  Bruce, you look unhappy - is it because the ball won't come out of the bucket?

The prefab classrooms at primary school were heated by a potbelly stove in the corner which the first children to arrive in the morning were responsible for lighting up (no prefabs were burned down).  There were no down jackets back then and I even walked to school in the frost barefoot.  Gosh - did we freeze, especially at night!
My class of 1970.  No obesity, good bone structure.  Straight teeth (mine were the least), no acne - only pimples. No diabetes in the entire school, as far as I knew, and just one case of asthma.  No autism or ADD that I was aware of.  How come?

1969 cross country team.  Any of these young athletes (bar one) would make the national athletics team today, including one who became a multiple Olympian.  All barefoot bar one.  Isn't the lack of shoes a sigh of poverty today?

My daughters, Mary-Ann and Myra, both part Cook Islands Maori.  You might note, as well, that there is not an obesity problem in  my family and they have good teeth.

Note their strong facial structures which are similar to those below.
Polynesian teeth and bone structure, from many years ago, from islands that have yet to be inundated by "Western" junk food.

Happy, healthy people with obviously very good sun tans.
Polynesian teeth and weakened facial bone structures from islands that have been inundated with junk food.  Miserable health.

Our son, Alama, doing his daily workout.  Got to start them early!

Alama, some years ago, getting ready to go to his Samoan language nest, lunchbox in hand. He lives in a cold home.  Good facial bone structure by the way, but in need of a hair cut.

Exercise, vitamin D from sunlight and nutritious whole foods.  Maybe these are the keys to good health.  

Here are Myra, Mary-Ann and Kelvin, posing with Rod Dixon after competing in an athletics meet.  Oh dear - barefeet, no sunscreen and they are sooo thin!  These children are being neglected!

Perhaps much of current health advice is misguided with some being little more than a load of cobblers?  For a surprising and relevant example:

Warm homes in winter and cooled homes in summer do contribute to the obesity epidemic:

"Heating and air conditioning might also be to blame. When people and animals go above or below a "thermoneutral" ambient temperature, they lose weight - if it is too cold they burn fat to stay warm, and if too hot their appetites decrease. But studies show that people are keeping their houses warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer than they did a few decades ago, so these natural influences on weight are negated."

Perhaps the biggest contributors to ill health in New Zealand are the misguided health experts themselves, the nutrient depletion of food, plus the structural inequities that have split our once egalitarian society of the 50's and 60's into two classes - those who have and those who haven't.

If we think that heating homes is going to solve our burgeoning health problems, think again.  In fact, higher power bills from heating homes will make matters of impoverishment worse over the long term, for sure.

Poverty and ignorance are not a good combination, especially when it is much cheaper to buy a loaf of white bread and soft drink than it is to buy some vegetables and fresh meat.

Hey!  Who put this photo here without my permission?  Those Moller kids were not supposed to have any shoes way back then.  By the way, those are nice cloth nappies you are wearing, Bruce.

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The advice in these articles is given freely without promise or obligation. Its all about giving you and your family the tools and information to take control of your health and fitness.

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