Tuesday, November 27, 2007

New "Prevent childhood obesity" initiative forgets some things

Today we got the news that Laura Bush (our First Lady) saluted the announcement of a new initiative to prevent "childhood obesity" and promote "healthy weight".

Although I generally like the Bush administration, what I do NOT like is that they are even MORE in bed with the pharmaceuticals and the diet industry than are the Democrats. I guess they really believe in this stuff because the President with a healthy cholesterol level of 170 is , believe it or not, exposing himself to muscle weakness risks and cancer risks by taking one of the statin drugs.

There are two problems with the childhood obesity "epidemic". Judging on 2 large survey studies (you know how accurate epidemiological survey studies are.... NOT), the CDC came up with the following:

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, data from two National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys (NHANES) (1976-1980 and 2003-2004) show that prevalence of childhood overweight is increasing. For children aged 2-5 years, the prevalence increased from 5.0 percent to 13.9 percent; for those aged 6-11 years, prevalence increased from 6.5 percent to 18.8 percent; and for those aged 12-19 years, prevalence increased from 5.0 percent to 17.4 percent.
Well that's all well and good but even the worse stats such as those for those kids aged 12-19 years old put "obese" kids at a MINORITY. 19 percent obese means that 81 percent of the kids ARE NOT obese.

The other problem is, of course, that the BMI scale, an outdated inaccurate scale which was invented in the 1850's which does NOT take into consideration, muscle, gender or bone mass, puts many who are NOT obese into the "obese" area...

Finally when we think of "obese" we think of those very large kids like "the Maury Show" features from time to time (you know the ones they put in diapers and give donuts to before they show them on TV and berate the parents for "childhood abuse"?). But "obese" is medically defined as any BMI over 30.

For example, some very slim but muscular Hollywood stars and many Olympic athletes are also classified as "obese" (including the governor of California).

So no one is really sure whether those "classified" as "obese" by weight are really obese or just very muscular and/or big boned.

In any case, by any measurement, the majority of kids ARE NOT OBESE. Has anyone asked the question, why start a weight based initiative when MOST of the kids are not obese?

What this is ESSENTIALLY doing is making ALL kids including the non obese ones, utterly paranoid about BECOMING obese. Disturbing reports from the UK and Australia, both of which have stressed weight based initiatives against "childhood obesity" stated that a raising percentage of kids 12 and up are dieting, vomiting, starting smoking and doing other unhealthy things to avoid the "dreaded" obesity because the bottom line is that any kid who has a "normal" BMI will be accepted as living a healthy lifestyle REGARDLESS of how that "normal" BMI was attained.

One of the kids on a "National Body Challenge show" who was very slim asked their nutritionist why HE had to eat the "healthy food" because he wasn't fat. I have met several people who feel that they don't have to eat healthy because they are not fat therefore they assume they are healthy. Also several people who smoke who feel they are healthy because they are not fat regardless of the fact that smoking is directly associated with 400,000 deaths a year and 95 percent of chronic lung disease.

When I was a kid, they were hung up on the one number classification of IQ. Despite the many drawbacks of IQ tests and the numerous talents they do NOT test (IQ scales were never meant to be a one number fits all), children were judged and branded by their IQ number and many children were emotionally scarred for life because of this judgment. Now the one number gauge of worth is BMI.

So have these initiatives inspired kids to exercise or eat more veggies and eschew fast foods, potato chips, French fries and the like? NO WAY! Kids are MORE sedentary today than ever, they fill up on junk food and fast food and avoid good food.

So if we THINK we are giving kids the message they ought to live eat more healthy and exercise more, we are badly mistaken. The message we are giving kids is as long as they are slim, they can be as sedentary as they want and stuff junk food all day and all is ok.

Meanwhile, we are seeing outbreaks of childhood diseases which were only a memory in my day, like whooping cough, among vaccinated kids, and even things like cancer and sudden heart attack are on the rise in our kids. Maybe, just maybe, a factor in this might be that they are undernourished for fear of "obesity" (which 81 percent or more never had to worry about anyway)?

One wonders if society will ever learn to use their brains. Or are THOSE brains getting starved out also?

1 comment:

Fatadelic said...

The message we are giving kids is as long as they are slim, they can be as sedentary as they want and stuff junk food all day and all is ok.

That's so true. And that if they are fat, they have to starve themselves to be thin.