Once again, the Onion nails it. This time, it was the piece titled "Study: Abstinence-Only Lunch Programs Ineffective At Combating Teen Obesity," which managed to poke fun not only at many of the anti-obesity initiatives, but also at abstinence-only sex ed. And it really drove home the point that food is the new chastity belt.
Some highlights from the article:
"There's no evidence to suggest that instructing teens not to chew, swallow, or even think about food is actually going to stop them from eating," Sebelius told reporters. "Let's face it: Kids are already eating. And not only during lunchtime. They're eating after school, at the mall, in their parents' basements. Pretending like it's not happening isn't going to make it go away."
"After all, they're teenagers," Sebelius continued. "Eating is practically the only thing on their minds."[snip]
Perhaps more troubling, students who completed the abstinence-only program were reportedly unable to answer the simplest questions about their own digestive systems, and some as old as 17 still believed they could catch high blood pressure from their very first Snickers bar.
"Kids need to know the truth about food," said Sue Weber, a nutritionist. "It's irresponsible for these schools to fill their students with misinformation about the devil working through trans fats, instead of just saying to them, 'Look, I know eating that entire box of Cheez-Its might feel good now, but when you're older, you're going to wish you had gone for the salad.'"
"I'm never ever going to eat, because eating is wrong, and I'm worth more than a chicken sandwich with asparagus and rice pilaf," Woodbridge seventh-grader Tracey Holmes said. "I heard Jennifer Hines eats all the time, like 50 times a day. I heard she eats all her ice cream upside-down, though, so she doesn't get fat. That's how it works."
Food and fat have almost replaced sex in our cultural repertoire of Things That Make Women Bad, so the comparison to abstinence-only sex ed is more than spot-on. Thankfully, I'm no longer a teenager (and I have less than one year left in my 20s), so I can't tell you from experience whether this is true or not, but when I was in high school, the big freak-outs were over STDs and teen pregnancy. Certainly things like "healthy eating" were mentioned and discussed, but there were also cupcakes for birthdays and Coke in the vending machines.
Now it seems the obesity epidemic has almost overshadowed all those worries. Maybe in another ten years, we'll find something else to freak out about. In the meantime, read the article and enjoy.
(Image courtesy The Onion)