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Saturday, June 18, 2011

I'm not buying it

For some years now there has been an all out effort to convince us that our children are getting fatter and can expect a shorter life span than we currently enjoy. These notions are most often tossed into the national discussion via news casts and other media outlets that seem to lack one integral piece of journalistic prowess and that is fact checking. Are our children really getting fatter? Is there really an epidemic of childhood obesity in America?

I contend that children on the whole are no different today than they have ever been. When I was younger there were big kids and little ones too. Today some kids are thin and others not so thin but to couch this in terms of an epidemic seem to somewhat overstate the issue. Going back even a little further there were the Little Rascals an early television show featuring a gang of mischievous kids some of whom were thin like Alfalfa and others who were plump like Spanky and Darla. Were they the only two fat kids in America at the time? Probably not but the Great Depression gave folks something to worry about other than the BMI of our children.

To combat this so called epidemic government at the federal, state and even local level have put on their do good badges and sought to fix the problem. A recent example of this are the deeply caring but sadly misguided members of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors who voted 8-3 to ban toys in fast food meals that have excessive calories, sodium and fat. Their goal in passing the waste of a piece of paper legislation is to curb the obesity epidemic. Has anyone bothered to ask if that would work?

Couple this with the nationwide move to ban cupcakes and other sweet treats from school functions. This assault on sweets is part of a federally mandated school wellness initiative that makes it seem like we may not live in America anymore. Has anyone asked whether cupcakes and other confections thwarted the learning process of generations since our nation’s founding or if such a ban will cause even one child to lose one pound?

As a nutrition professional the very fact that these arrogant public servants, meddlers better said, think that even one child will lose weight because of this ban is scary. Scary because if children do face real health issues related to nutrition a ban on toys, fat laden foods or any food for that matter will not change anything.

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