Interesting items from my email inbox …

Dear Parents:  Your Kids Are Fat

Let’s file this under the category of we’re from the government and we’re here to help:  schools in Massachusetts are now sending letters to parents informing them that their kids are overweight.

Schools in North Andover are trying help students dealing with obesity issues, but some families say the schools are going too far.

Cameron Watson, 10, isn’t just a strong athlete; he’s also a tough fourth grader who didn’t let a “fat letter” sent to his home get him down.

“I know I’m not obese so I didn’t really care about the letter. I just crumpled it up,” Cam Watson said.

The letters were sent to plenty of homes throughout the Commonwealth.

The Department of Public Health says 32 percent of our students have a Body Mass Index that shows they’re overweight or obese, and the letters are supposed to be a helpful tool for parents.

The “helpful tools” in this case are the government officials who believe these letters have any positive effect whatsoever.  Do they really think the letters will result in conversations like this?

“Johnny!”

“Yes, Dad?”

“You’re too fat!”

“I am?  Why the heck didn’t you say something about it?”

“Well … I didn’t realize you’re fat until your school told me.”

“Wow.  I didn’t either.  Are we stupid, Dad?”

“I’m afraid so, Johnny.”

“So what do we do about this, Dad?”

“Well, you stay in school and I’ll try to read more books and–”

“No, I mean what do we do about me being fat?”

“Uh … I don’t know.  They haven’t told me yet.”

But of course, we know what advice the school will give:  more of the same eat less/move more nonsense that’s already failed.  Of course, it doesn’t help that the schools are serving meals like this (picture supplied by a reader who works in a school):

A roll, mashed potatoes, pasta, an apple and strawberry milk … all in one meal.  Yup, that’s your government-approved school lunch.

Now why the heck are so many kids fat?

Dear Person:  YOU’RE TOO FAT, YOU LAZY @#$%!!

Letters to parents may be enough to turn around the tide of childhood obesity, but we adults need stronger medicine, according to a bioethicist:

Unhappy with the slow pace of public health efforts to curb America’s stubborn obesity epidemic, a prominent bioethicist is proposing a new push for what he says is an “edgier strategy” to promote weight loss: ginning up social stigma.

Daniel Callahan, a senior research scholar and president emeritus of The Hastings Center, put out a new paper this week calling for a renewed emphasis on social pressure against heavy people — what some may call fat-shaming — including public posters that would pose questions like this:

“If you are overweight or obese, are you pleased with the way that you look?”

Callahan outlined a strategy that applauds efforts to boost education, promote public health awareness of obesity and curb marketing of unhealthy foods to children.

But, he added, those plans could do with a dose of shame if there’s any hope of repairing a nation where more than a third of adults and 17 percent of kids are obese.

“The force of being shamed and beat upon socially was as persuasive for me to stop smoking as the threats to my health,” he wrote. “The campaign to stigmatize smoking was a great success turning what had been considered simply a bad habit into reprehensible behavior.”

That same pressure could be applied to overweight people, perhaps leading to increased efforts by people to eat right, exercise  — and actually succeed in losing weight, Callahan argued.

Dr. Callahan, the people who beat up on you for smoking were clearly in the wrong.  They should have beaten up on you for being an arrogant ass.  Shaming and beating up on obese people socially will only cause them stress, which will raise their cortisol levels, which will make them fatter.  Then you’ll want to beat up on them even more.

Dr. Callahan is described in the article as a “trim 82-year-old.”  In other words, he’s never been fat and has no flippin’ idea what he’s talking about.  I wrote about his weight-loss theories in a previous post, so I’ll just repeat myself:

Boy, if only someone with Professor Callahan’s deep understanding of what causes body-fat accumulation had been around when I was becoming an obese adolescent, I would have remained lean.  When we had to play shirts vs. skins in gym-class basketball games, it just never occurred to me to feel ashamed of my fat belly, love handles and boy-boobs.  If the naturally-skinny boys in my class had cared more about me (and been armed with Professor Callahan’s insights), they could have helped me out by calling me names like Lard-Ass, Fat Boy, Pudge, Booby Boy, Porky Pig, or Butter Butt.  I now realize that with their kind-hearted acceptance of me (and the one other fat kid in class), they were inadvertently acting as enablers.

So to all you obese people out there who are happy with your bodies, it’s time to look yourself in the mirror and feel ashamed!  Don’t wait for Professor Callahan’s ideas to catch fire and inspire some do-gooders to shame you … be pro-active and take responsibility for shaming yourself.

But if we only exercised more …

Our friends down under, who have already been advised by their government to exercise to prevent obesity, are now being told to exercise even more:

Australians are now being advised to exercise for up to one hour a day, up from 30 minutes, because of the higher number of calories we’re consuming.

At least 60-90 minutes of activity a day are required to prevent weight gain in previously obese people, according to new official dietary guidelines released today.

Australians have also been told to cut their consumption of white bread, high fat milk, hot chips, take away food and cakes and biscuits amid warnings 85 per cent of males and 75 per cent of women will be obese by 2025.

The nation’s peak medical body the National Medical Research Council says we need to eat more vegetables, fruit, wholegrains, fish and low fat dairy products.

Yes, if only everyone would set aside an hour per day for exercise and stop drinking high-fat milk — just like our grandparents did back in the days when few people were obese.  (You all remember how Grandma drank her skim milk before heading to the gym for an hour, don’t you?)

If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it at least twice:  when government programs fail, government officials interpret the failure as evidence that they should do the same thing again – only bigger.

One way to avoid high-fat milk

What, you mean don’t like low-fat milk?  Well, how about if we sweeten it up for you?

Two powerful dairy organizations, The International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA) and the National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF), are petitioning the Food and Drug Administration to allow aspartame and other artificial sweeteners to be added to milk and other dairy products without a label.

The FDA currently allows the dairy industry to use “nutritive sweeteners” including sugar and high fructose corn syrup in many of their products. Nutritive sweeteners are defined as sweeteners with calories.

This petition officially seeks to amend the standard of identification for milk, cream, and 17 other dairy products like yogurt, sweetened condensed milk, sour cream, and others to provide for the use of any “safe and suitable sweetener” on the market.

They claim that aspartame and other artificial sweeteners would promote healthy eating and is good for school children.

I dare you to read that last sentence 10 times in a row while fighting the urge to bang your head on your desk.

Here’s how we get kids to drink milk:  STOP TAKING THE FAT OUT OF IT.  The last thing kids need is more sweet food to pervert their taste buds.

Wrong interpretation of an otherwise interesting study

You probably saw the headlines this week about a new study touting the benefits of a Mediterranean diet.  Here are some quotes from an online article:

Pour on the olive oil in good conscience, and add some nuts while you’re at it.

A careful test of the so-called Mediterranean diet involving more than 7,000 people at a high risk of having heart attacks and strokes found the diet reduced them when compared with a low-fat diet. A regular diet of Mediterranean cuisine also reduced the risk of dying.

The findings, published online by The New England Journal of Medicine, come from a study conducted right in the heart of Mediterranean country: Spain.

A group of men and women, ages 55 to 80 at the start of the study, were randomly assigned to a low-fat diet or one of two variations of the Mediterranean diet: one featuring a lot of extra-virgin olive oil (more than a quarter cup a day) and the other including lots of nuts (more than an ounce a day of walnuts, almonds and hazelnuts).

While lots of research has found benefits from the Mediterranean diet, many of the studies have observed what people have eaten and looked for associations. One of this study’s strengths is that it randomly assigned people at high risk of developing cardiovascular disease to diets that stood to help them.

The study was stopped early (after a median follow-up of 4.8 years) because the benefits from the Mediterranean diet were already becoming apparent. Overall, the people consuming the diets rich in olive oil or nuts had about a 30 percent lower risk of having a heart attack, stroke or dying from a cardiovascular cause.

The Mediterranean diet has become a politically correct alternative to the low-fat diet because of this commonly-held opinion stated in the article:

The Mediterranean diet is rich in fish, grains, nuts, fruits and vegetables. The diet is low in dairy products, red meat and processed foods.

Grains, fish, fruits and vegetables … heck, the USDA could almost get behind it.  Just one little problem:  people who’ve lived in the Mediterranean assure me the local diet is also high in pork and saturated fat.

I looked up the dietary protocols for this study.  All three groups were told to limit their consumption of red meat – no more than one serving per day for the Mediterranean dieters, and no more than one serving per week for the low-fat dieters.  There’s no way you can conclude from this study that cutting back on red meat improved anyone’s health.

The low-fat dieters were also encouraged to consume at least three servings of bread, pasta, rice or potatoes per day.   The Mediterranean dieters weren’t told to consume grains at all.

So the headline for this study shouldn’t be Mediterranean Diet Saves Lives.  It should be Grain-Based, Low-Fat Diet Fails … Again!

Faced with this evidence, the USDA will of course continue recommending a grain-based, low-fat diet.  And then the schools required to follow that advice will send letters home to parents telling them their kids are too fat.

Baby Boomers Living Longer, But Sicker

The baby boomers are the first generation raised to fear arterycloggingsaturatedfat! and told to eat a grain-based, low-fat diet.  So let’s see how they’re doing:

As each generation gets older they like to think that they are healthier than the previous generation, however, the baby boomers are now unable to confidently make this claim.

The new findings were published in JAMA Internal Medicine, in a study conducted by a group of researchers from the West Virginia University School of Medicine.

The study revealed that a portion of the baby boomer generation, specifically the 78 million Americans who were born in the post-war baby boom from 1946 to 1964, were less healthy than most of their parents.

Historically, the baby boomer population has been labeled the “healthiest generation”, due to their long life expectancy and their ability to take advantage of the newest medical care and public health campaigns.

However this label may no longer apply because studies are now showing that baby boomers have more elevated levels of certain conditions than the previous generation, including:

  • obesity
  • high cholesterol
  • diabetes
  • hypertension

Key findings the authors pointed out:

  • 7 percent of baby boomers used a cane or other device to help them walk, compared to 3 percent in the previous generation.
  • 13 percent of baby boomers have a type of limitation in their ability to complete daily tasks – like going up steps or mowing the lawn – compared with 8.8 percent of those in the previous generation.

Like I’ve said before, if your fifty-year-old grandfather could be transported through time to face the average fifty-year-old today in a fight or any other physical contest, I’d bet on Granpda every time.   The Greatest Generation gave birth to the Sickest and Fattest Generation, thanks in part to our government subsidizing and promoting a grain-based, low-fat diet.

Faced with this evidence, the USDA will of course continue recommending a grain-based, low-fat diet.  And then Dr. Callahan – a trim 82-year-old – will yell at the baby-boomers that they’re too fat and ought to be ashamed of themselves.

As the baby-boomers might say:  and the beat goes on …

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52 Responses to “From The News …”
  1. JayMan says:

    “Dear Parents: Your Kids Are Fat”

    It really disappointing that they’re doing that in MA (here I thought it was just Arkansas). In any case, maybe they should read my blog post on the matter. In short, parenting has no effect on children’s body weight once they’re grown (since parenting doesn’t have much of an effect on anything anyway).

    “Dear Person: YOU’RE TOO FAT, YOU LAZY @#$%!!”

    I actually had a long battle over this topic elsewhere myself. Here’s another view in the vein of what you’ve written.

    “But if we only exercised more …”

    Yup, we know how that is… ;)

    “Wrong interpretation of an otherwise interesting study”

    Yeah, this study is commendable in being an actual experiment with a control group. The caveat I give it of course that genetic factors need to be taken into account, as 23andMe recently reminded us.

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