Fat chance

I still can't get over- even after all this time- how obsessed Americans are with food and fat and weight. Santa needs to go on a diet and so many parents don't think their kids are obese- when they really are.

The wonderful folks at Keep Santa Fat are doing a great job of addressing the first one (though I never thought I would see the day). The second one is much more disturbing, in part because people seem to be accepting the word of the 'fat police' at face value.

Not that I blame the parents. After all, the truth really isn't out there, not really.

The premise of this news article was that kids are obese, this is horrible, and parents need to know exactly how horrible it is. Parents are "in denial" about their children's weight issues. It's a press release about a study performed by the University of Michigan (Go Blue!) where parents of obese children were asked what they thought about their children's weight. Approximately one third said their child was "slightly overweight" and 13% said "very overweight." The rest of the parents (about half) said that their child's weight was fine.

The authors of the study bemoaned this finding, basically concluding that our world was going to hell, and all fat kids were going to die of heart disease before age 20. What was astounding was the lack of research by the journalist- no critical analysis was done of the study, either by the reporter or by interviewing other scientists. Okay, okay, it's an AP story, they work under tight deadlines. As a journalist, I get that. On the other hand, that's not an excuse for crap reporting. Most scientists love to talk about their research, and they also are (mostly) more than willing to put you in touch with their critics. This means that either the reporter didn't ask, that the scientist didn't give any critics, OR that most scientists are uncritical of such studies.

So-called legitimate scientists are willing to openly deny evolution (upon which all biology is based). Yet scientists aren't questioning this line of research. Granted, the question of evolution is much more central to science and medicine than obesity, but it's the premise that's important. You can question evolution but not obesity.

I had a different take than probably most people when I read the results of the study. I don't have PubMed at my parents' house, so I couldn't look up the actual findings, but even just reading what this person wrote, I thought:

"Maybe parents are accepting that their children come in a wide variety of healthy weights. Maybe they love their children for who they are, rather than what size clothes they wear. Maybe- get this- they don't give a shit."

Maybe this is a good thing. Maybe there's nothing to be in denial about.

Being "too fat" is not nearly as bad health-wise as being "too thin." It's not. Period. Also, as your self-consciousness about your weight increases, your risk of suicide also increases. Regardless of your weight. Suicide is a leading cause of death among young people. Not heart disease, not high cholesterol, not diabetes. So you're telling me that making kids feel bad about themselves is the way to decrease overall death rates. Right...

"Happy" and "healthy" have a large range of definitions. Why don't we keep it that way?

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1 comment:

Dreaming again said...

My children are both overweight. Older teenaged boys. I take them to the doctor and the doctors start to grill them about DIETING.

I try to balance it out in the appointment with "healthy eating"

and try not to go into some kind of weird panic attack myself.

It was easier when the resident they had was also a psychiatric resident ..and interned at Laureate as well. He wasn't about to cross any boundries with the boys.

It's hard ... I don't want to come unglued in front of my kids but ...

My boys are intelligent boys
overweight
they have OCD
and a family history of eating disorders ....

that is the male high risk for asking for an eating disorder

it drives me insane when the doctors start to tell them to diet.

Do I want my sons overweight?

NO ... I want them HEALTHY ...

(do they sabotage themselves ... absolutely ...it's the sugar soda they drink at school, I'd bet my new house on it and their couch potato life)

Diet?:?????? NEVER!!! Do not set my sons up for my life!

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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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