Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The Kids Are All Fat

Most of you know that I am not a big fan of all the hoopla about our national obesity “crisis.” Not because I don’t think people are getting heavier and not because I don’t think there are health risks associated with being very overweight. Mostly because all of the conversations around this “crisis” seem to always devolve into ‘fat people are lazy’ discussions and/or ‘if we could only educate those poor fatties, they would KNOW how to help themselves’ self-congratulatory tomes. Newsflash: fat people (and I might add, not-necessarily-that-fat-people like myself) know they are fat. It’s not a secret. Also, a lot of these anti-obesity campaigns seem to be focused on LOOKS and not on HEALTH. If you look thin, you must be healthy. If you look fat, you’re unhealthy. There is little wiggle room. And, OMG, FUCK THE BMI.

Basically, I have a lot of feelings (italicize) about obesity and food and fat, and not a lot of rational thoughts. I get all riled up when I see things that I think are wrong about health and nutrition in general, but I’m not sure if I know what is right. I have thoughts about campaign finance reform and food marketing and corn subsidies, among other things. And I read A LOT of books, but I am admittedly very jumpy about this stuff and see everything through a “stop judging me because I don’t look right” lens.

Also, I sure as hell don’t know how to educate people about health and exercise and nutrition. But Slate readers do. Sort of. A while back, they asked readers to submit their best ideas for reducing the rate of childhood obesity. Earlier this week, they posted the 12 best ideas : 6 selected by experts in food, nutrition, fitness, and public health, and the other 6 picked by readers.

he judges' top six picks are:
1. Stop Being Afraid of the Food Industry, by Maria
2. Teach Children Cognitive Control, by Kristin V.
3. A Holistic Approach to Reversing Childhood Obesity Rates, by Rachel Assuncao
4. Legislate, Educate, and Inoculate To Create Food-Savvy Kids, by Bettina at The Lunch Tray
5. Food Stamp Incentives, by Zahava
6. Change the Cultural Norms Around Eating, by JenInNH

The readers' top six picks are:
1. Push Play Instead of Push-Ups, by Matt Bowers
2. End Corn Subsidies, submitted anonymously
3. Improving Sidewalks, Bike Lanes, and Street Safety, submitted anonymously
4. Change the Parent's Mind, Change the Child's Life, by HealthCoachRobyn
5. Build an Online Network, by Elizabeth Brotherton
6. Subsidize Small Local Farmers, by Rebecca Rothfeld

There’s a lot of interesting stuff in there, and I should point out that NONE advocate a shame-based approach. This was noted by some of the more douche assholes in the comments section. Also, Tea Partiers fearing a “nanny state.” Seriously.

When we’re not worried about ruining our children’s lives by sending them to the wrong preschool, YG and I worry about saddling them with all of our weird food issues. Our families had extremely different approaches to exercise and nutrition, but both of us are undeniably fucked up. So we’re trying to figure out what our approach is. Right now, it seems to be moderation around food and play and modeling by example. We’ll see what happens as we get deeper into the middle school, terrible girl years.

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