Some sanity in the anti-obesity hype

Most of the articles I read on childhood obesity leave me swearing in frustration and/or shaking my head in disgust.

Not so with this fabulous article:

Singapore to scrap anti-obesity program

Why? Apparently it caused some kids to be singled out and teased about their weight loss. The director and creator of the "Trim and Fit" program says, "If you want to focus on just overweight children, then no matter what you call it, there will be a stigma associated."

Gee, I'm surprised at that one. Actually, I am surprised that someone would a) notice that, b)admit it, and c) then DO something about it. Amazing.

People told me I was fat (chubby, hefty, big-boned, curvy...you get the idea) when I was younger. And I was about 85% weight-for-age on the growth curves. But I was also 90% height-for-age. Duh. But schoolkids neither know the difference nor care. If I wasn't a target because of my weight, I would have been for something else (smart, quiet, loved books, etc).

The irony with all of these anti-obesity programs is that none of them work. Even the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published a study that said the same thing- within whose vaulted halls many such anti-obesity propaganda has sprung. In a 2005 report, they said that only one of the studies targeted at middle school students showed even minor decreases in weight. Most hilariously, if you read the first part of the report, it says that overweight (a BMI between 25.0 and 30.0) was not associated with excess deaths. Underweight (BMI less than 18.5) was associated with excess deaths- though you never hear about that. The only other group whose weight was associated with excess deaths were those people with a BMI greater than 35.0- which is approximately 8% of the population.

Why aren't more reports being issued about the dangers of underweight? Though I hesitate to implicate the big bad media in the causation of eating disorders, I will argue that the promulgation of the thin ideal causes weight loss to go unnoticed or un-worried-about. Our threshold for determining a healthy weight has been lowered. Right before I was hospitalized for anorexia at a life-threatening BMI, people were asking me for diet tips. That's just messed up. Creating all of these fears of obesity and how fat is going to kill you just you wait and see, when really it's only 8% of the population that has an increased risk of death and illness? As well, many of the so-called morbidly obese may well have a chemical imbalance that causes an inability to feel full.

So can we get some sanity here? Please? For all our sake's, and especially our children's. An effort to end one problem may be creating an even larger one.

No pun intended.

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2 comments:

Ryanryan said...

hey carrie, i was in TAF club as a kid, and i remember a really humiliating incident one recess, when i bought a packet of choc cookies and the Phys Ed teacher screamed at me in front of the entire level at the canteen

it still haunts me to this day

ryanryan

CARRIE ARNOLD said...

Ryan,

That would haunt me too. I have vivid memories from classmates as well.

Tell your teacher to shove those cookies up his arse!

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I'm a science writer, a jewelry design artist, a bookworm, a complete geek, and mom to a wonderful kitty. I am also recovering from a decade-plus battle with anorexia nervosa. I believe that complete recovery is possible, and that the first step along that path is full nutrition.

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Have any questions or comments about this blog? Feel free to email me at carrie@edbites.com



nour·ish: (v); to sustain with food or nutriment; supply with what is necessary for life, health, and growth; to cherish, foster, keep alive; to strengthen, build up, or promote



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