Monday, September 25, 2006

The War On Fat Kids



From a letter to the editors of the Wall Street Journal, in response to a report from the Institute of Medicine that states the federal government and the food industry aren't doing enough to combat child obesity:


Why should taxpayers be saddled with yet another task force and more government programs to combat childhood obesity when the two causes of this epidemic for the overwhelming majority of children are clear and agreed upon by all: an unhealthy diet coupled with a lack of appropriate exercise?

In the past, these behaviors were the responsibility of parents, who both monitored and modeled these activities for their children. Now, too many parents are unwilling to set aside the time and resources that it requires to prevent obesity in their own children. When my children were young, I sacrificed time, income and career advancement to ensure that they exercised on a daily basis, ate a well-balanced diet and learned to prepare healthy food for themselves.

Now that my children are grown, I, as a taxpayer, resent being asked to take on this responsibility for other parents by paying for more studies and government programs for remedies that are obvious to all. Similarly, I am fed up with the liberal agenda that makes parents the "victims" of television advertising about non-nutritious foods and the downsizing of school-based physical-education programs.

Parents need to recognize that their children's health is their responsibility, whether that means modeling a healthy lifestyle, preparing nutritious food, or assuming a more active role in schools to reverse the trends of unhealthy food choices and the elimination of physical-education programs. Our precious health dollars should be targeted toward the diseases for which we don't understand causes and cures. For the vast majority of obese children, both the cause and the cure are apparent, and both are modifiable by parents.


I agree with the letter writer, except about the characterization of the "liberal agenda." It is a common trait of all Americans to expect the guvmint to tackle society-wide problems; as well they should, since democratic government, at its best, represents the efforts of collective will. In fact, what this letter writer rails against is what our society, and our goverment task forces, should address: crappy parenting.

So, what to do? The dominant "liberal agenda" notwithstanding, no cultural force is going to make corporations stop aggressively advertising junk food to kids and their parents. And compulsory exercise already exists in most public schools in the form of gym class; extending gym through legislative mandate is politically infeasible, if not unenforceable. What this requires is creativity. How abou tax credits for parents of skinny kids? Annual child body-mass measurements, with mandatory parenting classes for moms and dads of fat kids?

There must be other great ideas out there, short of eugenics. Anyone?

4 Comments:

Blogger sexyretard said...

How about the "if you are fat, we will not pay for your cholestorol medication, fatass plan?"

Is that not good?

I suppose free YMCA memberships to the entire youth population would be a good place to start, although that would make my workouts totally lame(r), as they would be surrounded by children I spend a great deal of time trying to avoid in the first place. Without that sanctuary of the Y, I would have no reason to work out whatsoever.

It does bug me that I need a license to fish but I can have as many kids as I want, and slop them as I would pigs, without any legal repercussions whatsoever.

The only thing worse in the world is people imposing vegetarianism on their kids.

Love ya! See you Thursday.

9:25 PM  
Blogger Germanicu$ said...

"The only thing worse in the world is people imposing vegetarianism on their kids."

You may argue that vegetarianism is a mis-founded value system (though I would disagree, and lend you the fantastically graphic and typo-filled tome, "VEGETARIANISM: FACT OR MYTH?" which I picked up at the Printers Row Book Fair), but parents have every right to "impose" it on their children. People "impose" all sorts of things on their kids they think best, such as clarinet lessons, broccoli, or Mormonism. I myself still bear the scars of my parents imposing onto my brothers and me matching green velour izod v-neck sweaters. But hey, that was their right. They obviously thought it was cute, and they probably got a discount buying in bulk.

Hmm. I now see that my knee-jerk libertarianism re: parenting is rather at odds with my call for a society-wide crackdown on parents who let their kids get obese. Maybe these parents are just trying to groom their little chubsters to be the next Mosi Tatupu or George Wendt. And shouldn't they have every right? They're their kids, after all.

Now I don't know what to think.

2:48 PM  
Blogger Jeff said...

"It does bug me that I need a license to fish but I can have as many kids as I want, and slop them as I would pigs, without any legal repercussions whatsoever."

Absolutely. What is called for is not eugenics, but rather eumemics, by means of a parental licensure program. Want to be a parent? You have to have a means of supporting the kid, no history of violent crime, and take a bunch of parenting classes.

I don't really think licensing parents would help the childhood obesity problem, though--I just latch onto whatever excuse I can find to preach licensure.

But here's a question that would provoke some outcry if any respectable people ever visited this site: has anyone broken down the childhood obesity numbers (or all obesity) by race? The "evidence of my senses" suggests that, wrt childhood obesity, latinos may be driving the trend, and that blacks are major contributors to adult obesity. This is of course not to say that whites don't have their share of fatty fat-fats, but you have to wonder if the growth in the childhood rates has anything to do with the latino population explosion.

9:01 AM  
Blogger sexyretard said...

Absolutely. As noble Germanicus described this past Thursday, over-eating is itself a symptom of the "American Dream." Now that I can have all I want in the terms of material goods, I suppose I can eat all that I want as well.

I think what is going on in other communities may be more along socio-economic lines rather than racial ones. I can show you some two tons of fun types in West Virginia and I guarantee there is an absence of misagynation in their heritage. These people are as white as the new fallen snow, and about as large as one can really get. Clothing sizes really should come in Small, Medium, Large, Extra Large, Extra, extra large, and West Virginian.

2:40 PM  

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