Saturday, May 19, 2007

Can fat hysteria be dumbing down our kids?


Most public schools these days, are very concerned with the fatness of the kids who attend there. In walking around the cafeteria of a public school at which I attended a concert recently, I noticed all kinds of diet posters and slogans. I noticed NO slogans about doing better in school or thinking more. Most children of 9 years and older, read the backs of food packages to find out "how many calories" are in the food they are thinking of eating, more often than they read books. Some of us educators are a bit concerned about that.

A study by Tufts researchers, (WELL FUNDED by the CDC as well as other companies with vested interests) put all the children in Somerville, a suburb of Boston, into a program called "SHAPE UP" which stressed "smaller portions" and lots of exercise. They reported in "Obesity Journal" (Obesity 15:1325-1336 (2007)) that the study was a success because during the year long study, Somerville kids gained 1 lb LESS than kids of their same ages in neighboring suburbs. That resulted in a BMI difference of 0.10.

Seemingly of no concern to anyone was the fact that the reading scores of kids in Somerville are 14 percent BELOW the national average and the math scores, 25 percent BELOW. This is especially odd as Somerville is a semi affluent community.

I am reminded of an article in "SHAPE MAGAZINE" around 1995, entitled "DOES DIETING MAKE YOU DUH?" which reported that people on a diet did not function as well, cognitively, as people eating normally.

Many people have noticed a general "dumbing down" of society in the last couple of decades. Could our affinity to partially starve ourselves to attain what we consider to be "the perfect body" be a factor? Studies by the Food Institute of the UK suggested that prolonged calorie restriction, caused PERMANENT brain damage.

Will we go back to emphasizing things like READING BETTER to children or continue to dumb down with things like the "shape up" campaign, which though considered successful by the researchers, really did not make much difference in the children's health status and certainly did NOT help their poor reading and math skills (on the contrary, I suspect). I would guess that it's in the interest of those who wish to sell us something that we continue to dumb down, because educated, aware buyers are much more difficult to manipulative through the media.

resource: blog by RN, BSN, has a detailed description of the study and an excellent analysis of the flaws etc.


1 comment:

violet_yoshi said...

The idea that learning the basics of education are more important than social skills, and fat scares?! :O

It's like the public schools are doing a covert campaign, proving why your child should be homeschooled.

I mean really, there's the proof right there. Your child isn't learning about math, reading and writing. They're learning how to have no self-worth, fit in at all costs, and how to have an eating disorder like top celebrities. Are our schools being funded by media tabloids now? You can't call yourself a school, if you're turning out Paris Hiltons instead of Condi Rices.