Sunday, March 04, 2007

Child obesity epidemic? Where IS IT?

A recent blog mentioned a campaign in which "childhood obesity" was targeted on billboards as a "public health issue". As understandable, many objected to this pointing out that it would traumatize fat children even more than they are being traumatized now. But the sponsors of the campaign, The MetroWest Community Health Care Foundation says they are NOT backing down.

Peggy Howell, spokesperson from NAAFA stated that:

“It’s just simply reinforcing the fact that the children who are already bullied and teased mercilessly by their own classmates now are being made the butt of even more (teasing),”
Which of course seems a no brainer.

But I am wondering something. Where IS this great "obesity epidemic" among kids? I teach in an elementary school and I also visit my grandkids' school often and I just haven't seen all these "dangerously fat" kids that the news media seems to want us to believe, exist. Seems the same percentage of genetically fat kids there were when I was in school (in saner times) in the 1950's - about 2-4 per 30 kids.

What I DO see a lot of is painfully slim kids. When I taught 20 years ago, there was maybe one or two very slim kids in the class and those were invariably the ones who were sick a lot and had a poor attention span. In fact, I remember wondering whether things would be better for them if they were more 'robust'.

Now those very slim kids form the majority of kids in elementary schools. And have the same high rate of illness (like vacinated kids getting whooping cough) and same poor attention span that super slim kids had 20 years ago. And they are all obsessive about food. Know the calories of every food and painfully aware of everything they eat.

Sounds like we may be raising a lot of kids with eating disorders and you know, being slim as a kid, if one has "fat genetics" does NOT stop fatness as an adult.

And fatness as an adult does not mean lack of health either. In several comments about the campaign targeting childhood obesity, people have pointed out that they are rather large and still very healthy and fit. I will add MY comment to that - I weigh 261 at 5'5" and haven't had a cold since Dec 2005. Also I can do yoga and ride a trikke cambering scooter, dance. Pretty good for a 62 year old - truthfully, I am a whole lot healthier and stronger than some of the slim folks around me.

So what IS this all about? Selling diets? Fear mongering on the news to get people to watch so they see the ads? I know one thing it is NOT about. It is NOT about health, and it's NOT about the welfare or well being of our children and that is FOR SURE.

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