Happy National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month!
That’s right, September 2011 has been so proclaimed by President Obama. The President notes that a third of American children are obese or over-weight and urges “all Americans to take action by learning about and engaging in activities that promote healthy eating and greater physical activity by all our Nation’s children.”
I can’t find a place on the proclamation to leave a comment, so I’ll do it here.
Mr. President, I’m with you on the healthy eating, but I’m not so sure about the greater physical activity. Yes, I think kids should run, jump and play outside, but I don’t see physical activity as doing much to prevent or eliminate childhood obesity. It’s true that physical activity will take kids’ minds off of snacking — for a while. But sooner or later, the kids are going to sit down and eat. Then what?
Then the fat kids will still be fat, and the skinny kids will still be skinny. That’s how it was for me. As an adolescent, I was fat but reasonably active. Then, in high school, I lost the fat, even though I was less active than I had been in my heavy years.
Yes, there were hormones involved. There are always hormones involved in weight gain and loss — for instance, insulin.
Imagine a fat kid and a skinny kid are both playing hard. The skinny kid’s body burns up any fat stores it has; the fat kid’s body does not. As a result, when they stop playing and start eating, the fat kid will be hungrier than the skinny kid and will eat more. Or maybe not. It doesn’t matter because the fat kid is not burning fat. Insulin sees to that. For reasons that may be both genetic and dietary, the fat kid’s body makes insulin galore and the insulin keeps fat locked away. A change in diet could help, but exercise alone will just make the fat kid a hungry fat kid.
Therefore, sir, I submit that it is the “healthy eating” that deserves most of our attention. First get kids slimmed down through diet, get their bodies automatically balancing energy input and output, the way nature intends, and then the higher activity level will follow. Or it won’t follow, but at least obesity will be less of an issue. Anyway, healthy eating is the key.
I’d like to say we’re on the same page regarding “healthy eating,” Mr. President, but in your proclamation I see this bragging point: “We adapted the food pyramid to a new design ‑‑ MyPlate ‑‑ to encourage balanced meals.”
You apparently see MyPlate as representing “a science‑based roadmap” for better nutrition.
I respectfully disagree. To be blunt, MyPlate is atrocious. It includes too much grain-based and starchy food to be a healthy, balanced diet for kids prone to putting on weight. All those carbs in their system will keep their insulin levels up and their fat cells in place — and growing.
MyPlate is fat-phobic and sodium-phobic to no purpose — the same failed, counter-productive message the USDA has been pushing on the American people for the last three decades and more. MyPlate’s advice to “eat less” and “avoid oversized portions” is worthless for people who are always hungry, and too many people eating the recommended high-carb, low-fat diet will always be hungry.
One thing MyPlate gets right is recommending that people drink water, not sugary beverages. I suppose it’s a start.
Still, if MyPlate’s diet were forced upon the American people by a foreign power, it would constitute an act of war.
Given all of the other problems facing your administration, Mr. President, I don’t expect you to spend much time reforming the USDA’s dietary advice — or getting the USDA to stop handing out dietary advice, which would be better yet.
Like yours, my purpose is just to raise awareness.
It’s the least we can do.
Hear, hear, Mr. President!
I think we would be way better off if the government’s role in our food had to do solely with keeping it free of disease causing nasties. I am not talking about fat or cholesterol or even carbs or sugar. I am thinking more in terms of e-coli and the like. Plant and processing inspections seem like the perfect thing for government to be in charge of. The rest is really none of their business and is just a HUGE waste of taxpayer’s (ie. yours and mine) money. This is one of those totally non-essential things the government spends money on that could so easily be put to better use elsewhere. We also need to figure out how to not subsidize specific crops as that seems to be causing huge issues (but that is for another discussion)
The people who understand that food can affect their health go and look for their own information. The people who don’t will not be influenced by a pyramid or a plate with cute little food drawings on it. And the truth of the matter is that as a population we weighed less when we knew less.
A side note here, my DS just got back from Guatemala, and noted the difference in the flavor of the soda’s (they could only drink bottled liquids), he took note that they did not use HFCS in them. Being able to taste it helped him understand there is a difference, and if it tastes different it probably acts different in the body. smart kid
Well put, but unfortunately, I just can’t see a change coming anytime soon. As Tom says over on his FatHead site, “Follow the money.”
Dr. Eades posted a link on his Twitter that brought us to a site showing lots of photos of high school kids back in 1969. The fashions were fun to see, brought back a lot of cool memories, but what is really striking is the lack of obesity in those kids. Makes me wonder if the photos were staged or really done randomly? Were the uncool, chubby kids told to stay out of view?