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.