I read with some measure of sadness a piece on the CNN website entitled: 1 in 5 Children Will Become Obese.
Like the rest of the nation, I worry that the corn-feeding of America’s youth will bequeath staggering medical costs on future generations that no economic engine, regardless of its strength, could possibly generate enough power to support. Not to mention what it’s doing to the individual kids.
When kids are already obese and diabetic by second grade, what will they be when they reach adulthood? What kind of life will they be able to enjoy? And for how long?
I agree with Dr. Jeffrey Koplan of Emory University, who led the Institute of Medicine (a group who advises the government of such matters) panel on the topic:
This is a major health problem. It’s of a different nature than acute infectious threats, but it needs to be taken just as seriously.
The problem, however, is that no one seems to have a clue about how to take it seriously. All the usual suspects (CSPI, American Academy of Pediatrics, AHA, etc) continue to line up to blame the things they usually line up to blame: lack of leadership, too much fat in the diet, lack of exercise, and only very rarely, too much sugar, HFCS, and refined starch.
Numerous states have weighed in on the topic, starting programs mostly devoted to increasing physical activity not to changing what kids eat. And sadly, if they do recommend changing what kids eat, it’s usually to strip the fat out of their diets, load them up on fat-free carbs, limit the animal protein they get, feed little boys lots of soy (click here for why that may not be such a good idea), and generally ignore the obvious.
Federal, state, and local governmental agencies spend millions, nay billions, of dollars each year to force kids to get more exercise or they institute nutritional ‘awareness’ campaigns, generating lots of pretty posters, pamphlets, and leaflets to warn kids and their parents of the dangers of eating fat. Meanwhile, they’re turning average kids into king-size kids.
Some school districts have begun to build bike paths so kids can walk or bike safely to school.
Actually, that’s an idea that I think has merit, not for helping them lose weight necessarily, because it probably won’t do much when you consider that walking a mile or two a day will only burn a few hundred calories, which if they don’t change their eating habits, they’ll cover with 4 bowls of HFCS-sweetened cereal and low fat milk before their afternoon cartoon shows end. Rather, I think it’s a good idea because it will decongest the streets, reduce national oil consumption, and besides, it’s traditional; I walked home from school every day, so they should, too.
Lots and lots of other dollars go to mandating physical ed requirements, often in idiotic and counterproductive ways, such as insisting that participation in marching band shouldn’t count as a p.e. class. For crying out loud, have these people ever carried a tuba while dancing, hopping, marching, and spinning on turf every day? Not to mention that the kids expend the wind power of actually playing the instrument while doing this. Sheeeeesh!
I’d wager it’s a sight better workout than sitting in the bleachers or standing on the sidelines while somebody explains to you how to kick a soccer ball or shoot a basket. And yet…because kids are not losing weight on their idiotic low-fat nutritional advice, it must be they’re still not exercising enough.
It’s like they can’t see the forest for the trees. To borrow from erstwhile Clintonista strategist, James Carville:
It’s the carbs, stupid.