I would like to hand out another Smooshy-faced Cat Award, this time to one of the most prestigious medical groups of our nation: the American Medical Association.
Their newest campaign against "Childhood Obesity" definitely disproves the fact that doctors are, indeed, smart. I'm sure there are a few sharp crayons out there, but the rest? It's time to buy a new box of Crayolas, kids.
This was their latest proposal: Expert Panel Says to Call Kids 'Obese'. One of the experts was the illustrious Centers for Disease Control (for whom I used to have much respect). The other was the good ol' AMA. An exerpt from the article:
Dr. Reginald Washington, a committee spokesman and member of the American Academy of Pediatrics, said Tuesday that some doctors have avoided the blunt terms for "fear that we're going to stigmatize children, we're going to take away their self-esteem, we're going to label them."
The recommended terms cut to the chase, at least medically, but don't mean that doctors should be insensitive or use the label in front of every patient, he said. "We need to describe this in medical terms, which is 'obesity.' When we talk to an individual family, we can be a little more cognizant of their feelings and more gentle, but that doesn't mean we can't discuss it," Washington said. "The evidence is clear that we need to bring it up."
Answer me this: why shouldn't doctors be aware of and respond to a patient's feelings? Why don't you ask the kid what s/he likes to eat and eats regularly, and what activities they enjoy. Hell, ask them if they're happy.
And pray tell, Dr. Washington, to what evidence are you referring?
Ah, yes. Statistics. Mark Twain said it best: There are lies, damn lies, and statistics.
Younger kids are developing Type 2 diabetes. Almost 1/3 of our children are 'overweight.'
Yet the irony is that the children with Type 2 diabetes are quite the minority, and I don't know that anyone has done a study on any possible genetic or underlying metabolic causes for this. Another question is this: are children any unhealthier now than before?
See here's the thing: people are confusing cause and effect. It's like the current debate about mercury in childhood vaccines. Study after study has confirmed no relationship between thimerosol (a preservative containing mercury) and the onset of autism. So why the debate in the first place? The onset of autism typically happens around 18 months. Which is about the same time as some childhood vaccines. Ergo, the vaccines (or the mercury) caused the autism.
Autism is a serious, heartbreaking disease. I've seen it in my relatives. Research on the causes of autism is necessary (just like it is for eating disorders). The timing of vaccination happening around the time of autism symptom onset doesn't mean that there's a causal relationship.
It's the same with so-called 'childhood obesity' and it's 'epidemic.' Just because kids weigh more today doesn't mean that they are less healthy. They are less likely to die of infectious disease. They are less likely to die in automobile accidents. Why not worry about something we know actually harms a child's health, like lack of insurance? Vaccines are life-saving. So is food. Sandy Szwarc, in her Junkfood Science blog, put it best:
"Far more young people are dying from anorexia than . . . from being fat."
This comment is coupled with an intriguing and haunting research study done by the CDC that a young person's perception of their weight (either too overweight or too underweight) drastically increases their likelihood of attempting suicide. This was NOT related to their actual weight. Rather, it was their perception of their weight that increased the risk.
Talk about speaking out of both sides of your mouth there, you CDC peeps. "Kids are too fat!" you say, yet a little itty-bitty news article says "Kids who think they're fat are more likely to commit suicide."
Solution? Tell kids they're obese. Suicide kills more teens than any type of overweight.
Pat yourselves on the back for a job well done. You have outdone the veritable Jonathan Swift on creating your own Modest Proposal.
FYI: A Modest Proposal was a short satirical essay written by Swift on the near-famine conditions in Ireland in the 1700s. His solution? Parents should eat their own children, thereby lessening their financial burden and providing sustenance.