Childhood obesity has more than tripled in the past 30 years (CDC). It is an epidemic and it’s going to cost our country big bucks. I’m happy that Michelle Obama started the Let’s Move campaign to focus on this issue. Who doesn’t want to fight “obesity?” It’s just…
“Obesity” implies eating too many calories. But the assumption is that nutritional needs are being over-fulfilled. Not so. I believe you can overeat the wrong foods and miss vital nutrients.
Instead of having a discussion about obesity, I wish it could be framed in the language of “nutrition” or “nourishment.” Because I’d like to include all the kids, fat and thin, big and small, in a larger discussion of food.
I see lots of thin kids at school and they are eating the same foods as the obese kids. Are they eating the right calories and fats to nourish their bodies? Somehow I don’t think so. They must be just eating less and maybe not enough of the good stuff.
I think I know why the Let’s Move folks chose “childhood obesity” as the enemy because it’s an easy win — who can argue? If they instead tried to focus on nourishment or nutrition, they would lose people. Let’s face it, “childhood obesity” conjures up a picture of “a fat kid” (not politically correct but true). In our thin world it’s easy to say “let’s fight fat!”
What about “childhood nutrition?” I see a cornucopia with squashes and gourds (see above). “Nourishment?” Hmm, I see my mom is making chicken soup with buttered bread. No enemy there!
Don’t get me wrong: being obese is a big problem. I wish the obesity problem wasn’t thought of as “just being fat,” because there’s a chance most kids are undernourished regardless of their size.
NOTE: I apologize if this post offends you. It is not meant to hurt anyone’s feelings. I removed the line that offended people.
74 thoughts on “Framing obesity”
I couldn't agree more! It wasn't uncommon to see skinny kids who said they were "healthy" when I was in high school last year yet they ate pizza, fries and other greasy foods that probably weren't the most nutritious choices. Others were thin but never exercised at all – how healthy is that?
I've been at both ends of the spectrum – very overweight and very underweight and now I'm focusing on healthy eating and living overall, not just being thin or finding a correct weight, but eating the right foods, taking in the right macro and micro nutrients, and exercising properly. Those are the kind of things we should promote as well.
(By the way, this is my first time commenting on your blog but I've been reading for quite sometime and I love / appreciate what you're trying to do for school food. I support your cause 100%!)
I am so happy to see this post. Obesity and disease are not the result of gluttony and sloth — they come from eating slow-acting poison instead of real food. Minimize/eliminate grains, sugars and vegetable oils, stick to healthy natural fats, and be amazed at how your health improves. In other words: Skip the bread, eat the butter!
I take issue with the statement "you did something to get there," especially when it comes to kids. It's been all over the news recently about how infants who are above the 95%ile for weight before age two are likely to be obese- are we really going to put the onus on infants, for crying out loud? I mean yes, it is the infant who is consuming too many calories, but seriously, are we to take the attitude that they should know better? Because that's what a comment like that implies. Presuming your school starts with Kindergarten, some of those children haven't even reached the age at which is's even appropriate to expect them to take responsibility for their weight in terms of understanding that too much food and too little exercise= obesity. Once they're already overweight or obese, which may well happen before they're at an age where they can take some responsibility it's awfully hard to lose that weight- and study after study will back that up when it comes to weight gained in childhood. It's biologically quite different than the extra fat carried by teenagers or adults.
I absolutely want to see better nutrition in schools, and I think that will make a huge impact on the problem of childhood obesity, but let's not be so quick in handing out the personal responsibility to children who aren't yet capable of that type of reasoning.
Dearest Mrs. Q,
"…being obese is a big problem and if you are overweight, you did something to get there."
I may be missing something, but that statement sounds as though the blame is being placed on obese children. When we all know that the blame should be placed SQUARELY on the parents.
Most kids are so unaware of what we know about food. And the majority (at least here) of adults are clueless about food. It comes down to us being responsible for educating ourselves, teaching them and setting the right examples.
Parents cannot continue to be, selfish and lazy! I know that sounds harsh…sorry.
That fast-food dollar menu that we think is saving us a little time and money is doing more much more harm than good…for all involved.
Sure, after a full day's responsibilities, we are all worn out, and the idea of taking a walk or being stuck in the kitchen does not appeal to us…but honestly, we need to get a grip (and a clue)!
Besides childhood obesity, the increase of diebetes in America's youth is ALARMING.
An ounce of prevention…
We cannot continue to allow or enable our children to consume crap.
The reason I put that line "you did something to get there" in there was because I don't want to let an overweight person say it was entirely someone else's fault. Of course there are many variables in why people are overweight. I'm just saying the person had a role even a small one.
I do think obesity is an issue that should be addressed, but this is so true. All kids need to understand the importance of proper nutrition otherwise whats going to change?
"Don't get me wrong: being obese is a big problem and if you are overweight, you did something to get there. "
I don't think this was directed at kids at all but to the readers. I know I'm still overweight and I'll take accountability for what I've done and now I'm doign something about it. Mrs. Q is standing up because she thinks that as adults WE have the responsibility to change the food system and make it where it is beneficially for our children.
I agree completely. I am overweight (losing some though!), yet for years I have been trying to stick to real foods. My husband has an amazing metabolism, has been skinny all his life and yet prefers processed foods and refuses to eat vegetables, fruit, whole grains, or anything else remotely "healthy". I often worry about his potential health problems down the line, but since he is skinny, he thinks there is nothing to worry about!
Looking forward to hearing you this morning on Wisconsin Public Radio, Mrs. Q!
Listeners can tune in here: http://wpr.org/webcasting/live.cfm
"…being obese is a big problem and if you are overweight, you did something to get there."
Lost a reader over this one. Thank you for being as judgmental and as narrow minded as everyone else in your lilly white suburban world. Enjoy eating your crappy food, I really hope you get your comeuppance after that.
Problem is, the "something" you did to "get there" was putting food in your mouth, which is the same thing non-obese people do. Obese people *sometimes* eat more calories than non-obese people, but you've pointed out in this very post that that's not always the case. Obese people *sometimes* are obese because of side effects of a completely different health issue, and *sometimes* are obese because of food ignorance, and *sometimes* are obese because of nutritional scarcity paired with caloric abundance, and *sometimes* are obese because of nutritional and caloric overabundance.
Being fat isn't a moral failing. Treating it as one, and treating all the cases of obesity as if they're the same thing, doesn't make for good analysis or good policy. I don't agree with the portion of the Fat Acceptance meme that denies that obesity is *ever* a result of simply too many calories, but even when it *is* that isn't grounds for rejecting someone as a person.
(Me, I'm fat because I eat too much and exercise too little, and I'm quite happy with that. My friend is fat because her muscles and immune system don't work right, and it's take the medication, live, and be fat, or go off the meds and die before she's got time to appreciate the weightloss. Looking at the two of us standing side-by-side, you wouldn't be able to guess which was which. Be cautious when you judge.)
Is it possible the increase in obese children comes from all the processed foods the school's choose to serve our children? I believe so. Our bodies weren't meant to receive all the man-made chemicals in these foods. Our bodies were meant to take natural animal and vegetable fats and process those. It makes sense as to why kids/adults are gaining weight, it's cheaper to buy these processed foods. But in the long run, is it really?
I believe that children need to be active during school and after so as to avoid weight gain. You can't just eat right and not exercise. A body (especially a young body) needs both. I was really taught what to eat as a younger person, I trusted that the food I ate at school and home were nutritous enough. I trusted that the way I ate would help me avoid being obese later in life. Boy, was I wrong. Thinking like I did and not exercising I gained quite a bit of weight during 4 pregnancies. It is my own fault and now I'm improving my lifestyle and that of my husband and kids, but I never really knew what was the best for me or them. I'm still learning what is good for us. I'll get it, hopefully before my own children learned my bad habits.
I love what you're doing, and I totally appreciate it. I really hope your health doesn't decline while eating this project. If it does, I'm sure we know the reason. Thank You, I love this blog. BTW, I found it from the yahoo.com article.
Wow, I am so surprised over the anger the "did something to get there statement." I think you were very clear about what you meant by that.
I really hope the majority of your readers dont allow that to overshadow the very important point you've made in this post. Eating well is critical for everyone. Our health care system is in crisis and chronic diseases continue to grow in prevalence. As citizens we all need to take the on responsibility of being healthy.
I'd like to recommend a book: "Health at Every Size" by Linda Bacon, PhD. It will really change the way you view weight and individuals'control over it. It is important to realize that children's weigh doesn't indicate their underlying health.
Maybe I'm wrong, but I read the 'did something' line as a cause/effect statement. Something is done, something happened. It doesn't imply you could have done something different.
Here's my fat story:
for years I didn't know why I was gaining weight. I ate the recommended calorie content or below. I was moderately active. I purposefully lived in a 3rd floor apt with no elevator. I went on long walks and bike rides, yet still I was quite over weight, bordering on medically defined obese and borderline diabetic. Then I started reading further than the calorie lines on the boxes of food I was consuming. I noticed that nearly everything I was putting into myself had an ingredient list 5 miles long and everything had cornsyrup in it. Now I am not going to geting to the good/bad debate, but as a borderline diabetic, and studying the biology portion of my undergrad, I knew that wasn't good for me. So I started weeding it out of my diet. No just the high fructose stuff, but all cornsyrup. I now keep mostly to whole products, kosher, and organics (not even all organics are good for me) I've dropped off 20 lbs, and the only thing I changed was the brands I buy and I have to make a few more things from scratch. I didn't change my activity level and I didn't change the fact that more or less calories.
So yeah, I was doing something that made me fat. But I had no idea that is could be that, since I was "eating healthy".
So yes, even infants and children are getting fat because they did something, and that something was being done to them. They have no idea that what they are doing is the wrong thing, and it is up to us to make sure that they are doing the right thing with their diets. That's why the school food is so important and why it is important to send the message to the food companies that we aren't going to let them produce crap foods that we mindlessly eat.
*on a different note*
While I may or may not disagree with Mrs. Q on her opinions, this is her blog. Blogs, by their definition, are the writers opinion. I feel bad that there are people out there that feel the need to storm off in a huff when they disagree and let the whole world know that they have lost a reader'. Shame on you for wishing someone ill and taking your toys and going home.
I agree here that Mrs Q has clearly been misunderstood. I think that there may have been readers carrying around some baggage that contributed to jumping to an unintended conclusion here.
I agree completely with Mrs Q, if she means what I think she means:
We have been politically correct about this issue for too long and it has gotten us no where. I think the issue here is focused on those who are obese due to the consumption of calorie dense and nutrient lacking foods while not exercising AND are teaching their children these same dietary and lifestyle values.
We are all worried about the Children here.
So why aren't we teaching LIFE SKILLS in school to every child?
Such as Nutrition and Preparing healthy and tasty meals? Or easy ways to get enough exercise on a daily basis?
Achieving financial stability and use of credit-lets face it, Nutrition isn't the only thing we're missing-
I have a love for learning and I don't want to see Math, Science, Reading, Music, Arts etc squeezed out of the classroom but the malnourished, obese debt laden people our children may grow up to be would probably have appreciated learning some of these skills.
If parents aren't going to teach or show by example these important life skills to Our children-and by that I mean the children of our country we have a responsibility to look after-then well We the people need to find another way to get the knowledge out there.
our future society depends on it.
As a Registered Dietitian working in NYC on the front lines of pediatric obesity (our neighborhood lays claim to having among the highest rates of adult and ped. obesity and ped. T2 diabetes in the nation) I'd like to point out that in our practice here we absolutely describe obesity as a form of malnutrition — same as we do with children diagnosed as (Potential/) Failure to Thrive (underweight). The diets of obese children are extremely likely to be deficient in essential nutrients.
That being said it’s also critical to acknowledge that the condition of obesity, of being overweight, results simply (with rare exceptions, descriptions of which are beyond the scope of this post) from over-consumption of calories. If you ingest more calories than the body needs/uses/burns, you gain weight. This is independent of whether they’re from bread or butter, cake or carrots, soda or spinach.
Of course we WANT spinach, carrots and bread (whole grain, naturally!) to comprise the majority of the calories being delivered to the body. The soda, cake and butter, not so much. This is because of nutrient density. It’s a qualitative issue. This is not rocket science and you certainly don’t have to be a dietitian like myself to know it. But as healthcare providers, parents, caregivers, educators and role models we all must learn more about not only the qualitative but the quantitative facts of appropriate feeding practices to keep our children healthy. Because no – it is not their fault, it is ours.
Kids have no control over what their parents feed them, and often I have seen parents feed their kids completely processed, sugar filled crap because they claim that's all they will eat. If the parents allow the child to have chocolate cake for breakfast, the kid obviously doesn't have the knowledge or skills to say, "No, I'd rather have a bowl of cereal, thanks." Educating kids about healthy eating in school is great, but the child STILL is at the mercy of whoever in the family buys the groceries. If the parent only buys the processed crap, the kid has no choice but to eat it.
In my opinion, a child shouldn't ever be held responsible for being obese because it's the *parents* who got them there.
frogfarm wrote:"Skip the bread and eat the butter.."
Amen froggy! What few want to admit is that the carb content in most everything NOT bread is more than enough for a person to have during the day. I haven't had an easier time losing weight and most importantly, *keeping* it off (even as I pass through menopause, so that IS saying something) as I have, since I kicked bread and HFCS-laden product – ALL of it, OFF the menu.
Sugar is the killer.. or more correctly, high-fructose corn syrup and enriched, bleached white flour (which is just as refined and fattening as corn syrup).
As Jamie Oliver said in his TED.com speech, it is the sugar that is in everything that is the issue.. with school meals in particular. What he shows with the wheel-barrel full of sugar-cubes from the flavored milk is astonishing!
I think too often our society places the blame for poor health behavior on the individual, rather than looking at that person's environment. In terms of obesity, we have to start changing the food landscape in this country. Currently, poor food choices are the most affordable. Until healthy food becomes more financially accessible, we can't blame individuals for wanting to get the most for their money.
In addition to financial inaccessibility, general availability of health food is also unequal. Visit a grocery store in a low-income neighborhood. Fresh fruits and vegetables are priced much higher than in more middle class neighborhoods and the items are of poor quality. There is generally a smaller selection of fruits and vegetables.
We have to stop viewing obesity and other health issues as individual problems and start accepting that these problems are a product of our society. Individual health behavior is greatly influenced by the total health environment one lives in. Problems like obesity must be addressed in every facet of that environment if true improvements are to be made.
agree agree agree with what i think you are saying here.
the minute you talk about nutrition at school, the "fat" kid starts shrinking down in their seat and dying inside. and it's not fair. because people come in ALL sizes and you can be bigger, really active, and still healthy.
weight is too individual to be pigeon-holed in a classroom.
a focus on nutrition, healthy eating, and a chance to actually *be active* during the school day is what is needed.
and re: being active .. it's not ONLY about recess and P.E. .. there are schools where kids actually get to move around their classroom during the day, where they are up and building and cleaning and moving and putting things away and walking from one room to another.
If you look at the "Blue Zones" of the world, most residents of these places live at or around what we would consider the poverty level(Sardinia, Nicoya Penninsula), but they are healthy. Why? Their food choices. Yes, they don't have access to the processed foods that we do, but the food that they do consume is very healthy and inexpensive. Lentils, beans, and cornmeal are not expensive. I disagree that "poor food choices are the most affordable." It's just that most people prefer the poor food choice over say, cooking some lentils with spices and eating a tortilla. People need to be aware of what they are doing to themselves and they need to learn how to create healthy meals. Also, while fresh veggies can be expensive, frozen vegetables often are more nutritious b/c they are frozen right after harvested. And, they are cheaper!
Nutritionism is largely responsible for the horrible food kids are fed at school, along with the incestuous relationship between big food business, agribusiness and the USDA. If you really want to have your eyes opened about obesity, ready "Good Calories, Bad Calories," by Gary Taubes, the only really objective analysis of the "science" behind obesity and our govnerment's obsession with fat.
Kids are fat because from the earliest age they are stuffed with cheap carbohydrates and sugar, and the practice only continues in school.
I'm fat and I'm not offended even though you took the line out. I did do something to get there but most children who are obese really are a product of their environment. What I wanted to point out is that I think that targeting obesity is a way to approach the nutrition issue that gives use a visual.
This is the crap we are feeding our kids = this is the obesity that results.
It is true that this over processed faux food we all eat is making us all unhealthy…skinny or fat. But the numbers on obesity don't lie and it is a way to help wake people up and realize that the food is the problem.
I've been checking your blog for quite some time and I also finally decided to comment on the issue. I think what you do is great!!! I’m originally from Poland and I put significantly on weight after I moved to the USA. When I used to live in Poland my diet consist of many things that are considered fattening like potatoes, bread, cakes, etc. I put on weight because I was stupid. I chose to cook foods that were easy to prepare after day at work over those that were healthy. I do my best and try to watch what I eat and hope to drop the extra pounds. I think that most of the foods you can buy in a supermarket are really unhealthy. Why would you wanna make your own Nuggets if you can just reheat them? I learn my lesson and I try to stay away from the processed foods as much as I can. I miss my mom’s cooking. Last time when I went to Poland for an extended visit I lost couple pounds just by eating completely homemade meals without trying to watch any calories. I so wish that people realize that a TV dinner takes them couple minutes to heat, but it really is not the best choice you can make.
Just wanted to add that I also think people are overreacting to the "did something to get there" comment. It's cause and effect. Children aren't completely immune from this, and while they don't have full control over what they eat, as a former teacher in a Title I school, I saw plenty of children finding ways to try (chips and soda for breakfast, for example).
A couple weeks ago, my husband and I were talking about your blog (I love it), and he told me about how he was fat (his words, not mine) in elementary school. He said to me, "It was just one day I realized that all I drank was soda, and soda was making me fat!" This was a 5th grade memory for him. He stopped drinking so much soda and started to thin out– of course things like puberty and being young were helpful in that, but the point is he understood that what HE did resulted in being heavy. (He also realized other foods contributed to his weight, but hopefully I got my point across.)
I couldn't agree more that food needs to be integrated into our children's education. I know there are preschools where the children have access to fruit and vegetables, and part of their work is to prepare it for themselves and their classmates. They learn about where food comes from and how it can be used. They can learn to treat their bodies well by making good choices for it. (By the way, I am a parent of two, a 3 year old and a newborn. Some might be surprised how much a 3 year old boy can do in the kitchen. :))
Hey, you don't need to apologize for what you write on your blog! (Nor edit it!) It's your blog, your thoughts, your opinions. What I see was just as Anon 2:48 said — cause and effect. Just because Mrs. Q said the word "you" in both parts of the sentence, doesn't mean she was incriminating chubby children!
I'm all for adding disclaimers to decrease confusion, but come on people… she's not out here to offend you, she's out here to promote nutritional awareness.
Thanks Mrs. Q for your great posts, I'm enjoying reading them a lot. 😀
Good job on stating such a true fact. I agree that it is nutrition that is the big picture. As a professional cyclist from Mississippi and from the previous field of Child Nutrition in Rankin Co. I totally can understand that point. I consume up to 3,000 calories a day but they are 'clean' calories! Fruits and veggies are the main component of my diet, followed by grains and proteins, then fat and alcohol at the end……
Another huge component of nutrition is exercise! Our bodies NEED both! Kids bodies NEED both! Let's keep teaching children where their food comes from, what foods are nutritious and healthy, so they can take responsibility of their own food choices. Parents will not always be there to make the decisions for them but if taught proper eating habits and not DIETS, then we can get a handle on obesity and more important, nutrition.
It is true that obesity is not the only problem in our country. The food that we eat can be harmful not only to our weight, but also to other parts of our bodies. I'll use myself as an example. I myself am thin, and if you looked at me, you'd think I was completely healthy. But I actually have a cholesterol level so high, my doctor is having me see a specialist. I would bet you could find more thin, high cholesterol people in America then obese people.
childhood obesity is an epidemic because we, as a society, let it become one. parents got lazy; it's easier to make a box of mac and cheese and plop a kid in front of a tv than to make a meal and encourage the kid to go play outside because it may, heaven forbid, involve parents putting forth some effort. parenting has become a spectator sport, with food front and center. yes, there are some foods that are genuinely not good–white flour and sugar, for example provide no nutritional value, but they are not the primary cause of childhood obesity. parents need to be reeducated not only on food but on how to be involved in teaching kids to make good choices regarding food AND exercise.
Thanks for this post. It hits the nail on the head with where I have an issue. Our school in particular, doesn't have many "overweight" kids. I can probably count them all on one hand. We do, however, have many underweight, smaller, sicklier kids. It's evident in the tone of their skin, under their eyes, the constant year-round allergies, and the unusually high absent rate during any sort of cold/flu/allergy season. Sure, they don't look overweight…but they are still not healthy. If they aren't getting the nutrients they need at home or at school, then they aren't getting them…ever.
It's sad some people took offense to your statement. But the truth is, unless there is some sort of medical condition that makes you obese, then, yeah, you really did do something to get there. And the sadder truth is that unless these children learn to make better choices…then they grow up to be the adults who still make the bad choices. Then, they become the parents of the obese children we are talking about right now. The people who were offended are right, kids don't have a choice of what their parents feed them, but those kids do grow up…it's a cycle. Getting offended and "never reading" Mrs. Q's blog again is just ignoring the situation. If you don't like how her statement made you feel, then why not help break that cycle? If you're offended…good, it's about time! Now take that anger and direct it towards helping change the mess that got us here in the first place. If kids don't have a voice in what they eat…then why the heck are you not using your's?
And Mrs. Q, never apologize for speaking your mind…especially on your own blog;-)
Who cares if you offend someone? It's your blog, hon, you write what you feel! Don't censor yourself or temper your comments. And for heaven's sake don't apologize! Are you going to apologize to your school district when they say you've offended them by blogging negatively about their crappy lunches?
I really have a hard time believing that the worst foods are the cheapest foods. It's a statement based on looking at things at a very myopic level!
It is not cheaper to buy fast food all the time! It's not cheaper to buy processed food at the grocery store! It simply just isn't!
Of course, one looks at the dollar menu and thinks "Man! What a deal!" But everyone knows you end up buying at least 2-3 items, and $3 a person per meal is not cheap!
Sure making things from scratch involves an initial investment, but it goes so much further! Spend $12 at McDonald's to feed your family of 4 for one meal, or invest in some fruits, vegetables, spices, flour, oils, meats, etc. and you can bring the cost down per meal so much more! A grocery bill of $120 in one go can look very expensive, but realizing that that will feed your family for an entire week for all 3 meals each day – bringing the total per meal to $6 – makes much more sense! And getting off medications, having less sick days, etc, will save even more!
By the way, people complain about food prices – but move out of the US! I am living abroad, and when I go back to visit family, I am always shocked, Shocked, Shocked! at how absolutely dirt cheap food is in this country of any type – processed or not. It's almost obscene!
I think the best thing we can teach our children is how to look at problems with complex inputs and come to the best solution. Not being able to see beyond a $12 meal at McDonalds vs a $120 grocery bill as more than $12<$120 is something that many, many adults struggle with. THIS is what leads to almost every problem in our country today – from politicians simply doing something even if it is a sad facsimile of what they need to be doing, people not being able to determine whether or not they will be able to afford their mortgage 5yrs down the road, buying fast food vs nutritious food, etc. Teach people how to approach difficult problems with sophisticated reasoning, and we can see a generation that will finally be able to get things done. Whether you teach them this life lesson through mathematics, budgeting, home economics, sculpture, whatever! You teach this lesson well, and they'll get the idea of how to generalize to all situations!
I find it ironic that for the majority of history (anything but the last 40-50yrs)being plump was attractive and a sign of being prosperous and healthy because most were thin and borderline starving. Now, in the last few decades, being thin is venerated when the majority are overweight. Human perception of beauty is so subjective.
I think you were referring to adults with your statement and I have to say I agree. I know there is more than one reason for obesity, but as someone who has lost 145 pounds what got me there were my food choices and sedentary lifestyle.
There's nothing wrong with being truthful
your comment "being obese is a big problem and if you are overweight, you did something to get there." is way over line. That was just cruel. I know a few over weight people and their "problem" has nothing to do with your comment you stated. They did nothing to get the way they are now. Heck, I was pregnant 4 times and am having a hard time losing this extra baby weight. Liek you said, its my fault for being this way.
I seriously doubt I will read your blog any longer.
"…being obese is a big problem and if you are overweight, you did something to get there."
Lost a reader over this one. Thank you for being as judgmental and as narrow minded as everyone else in your lilly white suburban world. Enjoy eating your crappy food, I really hope you get your comeuppance after that.
I agree with you, OP. I don't plan on coming back to read her blog. I cant stand people who are like that, sorry.
"Be cautious when you judge."
I couldn't of said it any better. I am "this" way because of health issues. NOT because I put the wrong foods in my mouth or eat to much. I don't eat enough. Maybe thats why? Anyway, my point is, that comment was way over the line and hurtful. Check yourself before you judge. I hope you don't get "famous" over this blog anymore then you already are. This is nothing new. So why are ppl making such a big deal out of this blog??!!! There are other blogs like this one!! You aren't the only human trying to change school foods.
You lost yet another reader.
I've been thinking about what my grandparents ate: bread, lard, beans, pork….it was the 1930s and 1940s. No one was obese from the saturated fats or carbs because they worked it off. And because they were active, they didn't have high blood pressure or heart disease, either. Now, everything is convenient and we are afraid to let our children go out and play without supervision, so they sit at home, eating, watching t.v. and playing video games.
The point being (I think) that many seem to be missing: Currently, many in the food reform movement use childhood obesity as a rallying cry that will bring together both political parties (sad, but even food is political these days in America). This attention-rallying-cry is misplaced and instead should be malnutrition. ie, Just because a food meets the minimum requirements doesn't mean it doesn't exceed scientific standards for what is healthy as well. Just sayinga a meal has to be greater than 10 isn't saying as much as a meal has to be greater than 10 but less than 30. So, the movement needs to change their tone from exterminating fat to exterminating unhealthy food. Sadly, the latter statement is more partisan than the former as conservatives want to make sure corn producers get large subsidies so they can make it large in campaign contributions.
tl;dr Post isn't about fat people, it's about malnourished people.
i agree with you, mrs q. the thin kids are eating the exact same crappy non-food as the overweight kids, but no one is paying attention to their health since no side effects will show up until it's too late and aren't as easy to see as a number on the scale.
also, though genetics definitely play a role, everyone can control some part of their own health. for me personally, heart disease runs in my mom's family. so while i'm thin, i still work very hard to stay healthy. i know that my genetics are against me as far as heart disease goes, but i am fighting with everything in my control to avoid a life of pills and surgeries. i would think that most people would try to find the things that they can control in order to stay as healthy as possible for as long as possible.
I agree that we should focus on healthy behaviors and access to a variety of healthy foods for kids, for two primary reasons – the kids deemed thin, and the kids deemed fat.
Thinner kids can have health issues from a lack of movement and from a nutrient-poor diet that get overlooked when BMI is the only measure. Every person who had that friend who could eat anything and never gain weight? With the right (wrong) diet, that friend can end up with a whole host of problems that often don't get addressed until way later.
For the fatter kids, shame helps no one. In addition to the fact that you *can't* tell a person's diet by looking at them (metabolisms vary hugely), you run into the fact that stigmatizing a child for something that's largely out of their control creates an oppositional relationship that can sour kids on exercise and vegetables for years. "Do this because we think you're gross" may not be what many people intend to convey, but that's the message that comes across given our fat-shaming society.
Lastly, I echo another commenter in urging you to read "Health at Every Size" by Linda Bacon. She talks about the ways in which food policy and reporting are skewed by private interests (including school lunches), and how some of the most widely spread statistics aren't true. One example: obesity rates in adults have actually leveled off (women in 1999, men in 2003), despite a lot of hand-wringing about the 'recent surge'. If the same happens for childhood obesity, will everyone stop caring about health? I hope not, but I'm not optimistic.
Mrs. Q, do not listen to those people who say they are angered over your statement of obesity. You have a right to say what you believe, and they shouldn't lash out at you for it. You are doing here what you do every day at the school you work. You are educating us through you're blog.
I believe you're right. OBESITY is caused by the person who has it. The people sending you angry comments aren't thinking about the difference between OBESE and FAT. Being fat may be caused from some other source, but obesity is completely avoidable if you're careful enough.
Please don't listen to the angry people, you spoke your mind, and you should be proud that you did. You're an inspiration to me, and I hope that you continue saying what you want to say.
I believe you should do a blog post about those commercials going around on TV about high fructose corn syrup.
The commercials say "Corn syrup is completely natural and, like sugar, is okay in moderation."
What they don't explain is that corn syrup, if found in a food, is ALMOST NEVER in moderation.
That would make for an effective post.
I'm not sure about the rest of the U.S., but I didn't have to take health class until I was in high school. Not only that, but our health teacher was very overweight and didn't exactly teach the food chapter with gusto. We talked about the food pyramid, blah blah blah, but all we learned is what we needed for the test. Why wait until high school to talk about food/lifestyle choices? Also, why are they taking away recess in elementary schools when you can at least get Vitamin D for free from the sun? Oh, and that other thing… exercise!
Meeting those nutritional needs is so important, and it's heartbreaking knowing that so many kids aren't getting it at home or school. So many illnesses, disorders, and diseases can be a result of poor eating. As a kid, if you can't learn proper nutrition at home or at school, then where do you learn it? We need to stop with the "Do as I say" and switch to "Do as I do."
Of course, it doesn't help to see Elmo's face on food packaging or that there exist gender choices for kid's meals toys (but that's another post for some other blog). Companies prey on children and have a strong influence on their choices. Are these choices nutritious? Maybe some, but I doubt I'll see Cookie Monster's face etched on a head of cauliflower anytime soon. We need to show our kids how to make better choices so that when they are bombarded by companies trying to influence them, they can make informed decisions, or at least understand that what they choose has an effect.
Love your blog, by the way!
Dear Mrs. Q,
"…I'm just saying the person had a role even a small one"
Again, I totally agree with you! I have a feeling all the angry folks who threatened to no longer read the blog are probably the ones who would rather make excuses and blame others.
Mrs. Q, What you are doing here is so important!
I have to adjust something from my earlier comment as well…When I said "…the majority (at least here) of adults are clueless…" I meant HERE -where I live- Oklahoma.
To ERIN, SARISARI and PRINCESS: Exactly! The processed crap pushed by big food businesses has become the norm. I read in Dr. Kessler's THE END OF OVEREATING, that there are no laws that govern the use of the terms "natural", "healthy" or "nutritious".
That is why the "all natural and nutritious" whole wheat bread we buy has five different types of sugar – disguised with different names so it does not look like the main ingredient!
What SARISARI said about moving here and gaining weight is also on line with certain studies…THE CHINA STUDY (Dr. Campbell).
And to SCATTERED MOM: Yeah…What you said!
btw, I will always suggest the movie SUPERSIZE ME to anyone interested. It is humorous and informative without being "in your face". The section on how much McD's spends on advertising is frightening.
I agree with your post and agree that teaching children what is healthy is really important but something that is somewhat ignored. At my high school if you were on the AP track you did not even take health- it was an add on independent study where you took 10 tests.
Hey Mrs. Q!
I'm a 17-year-old girl currently in high school, and I just want to let you know that I love your blog, and what you're doing is wonderful. <3
I have to say, I agree completely about nutrition being an extremely important issue regardless of size. I have a lot of friends who are super-thin but eat nothing but grease and salt half the time. I, on the other hand, am a few pounds overweight but I always strive to eat well and as a result, am healthier than my skinny friends. The proof? I've successfully trained for and completed a marathon, always have a lot of energy, and only get sick on average once every two years.
Too many people measure "health" on a fat/thin level nowadays. What they need to realize is, save for the extreme ends of the spectrum, this isn't always the case. Thank you, Mrs. Q, for bringing this to light! 🙂
And for the people who got offended at the "did something to get there" line, I understand why you're upset, but I'm disappointed that you would lash out so strongly, call Mrs. Q "judgmental," then play the hypocrite and turn around and judge her. I think you know as well as I do that she never meant to offend anyone, and frankly, I'm a bit ashamed of some of the narrow-minded comments that people have made. There really is no need to be so defensive. Simply state that you disagree, and don't blow this whole thing up into something that Mrs. Q didn't even mean it to be. Thank you!
And Mrs. Q…
ROCK ON! :]
<3 <3 <3
I've named your blog as "All show, no go." Great, you're blogging about school lunches but you're failing to take a proactive approach. While you rile up your subdivision soccer moms, how about stepping up to the plate and taking action? Oh wait, you're afraid of losing your job so instead you wave your arms frantically in the air for someone else to take action. You're kind of like the person who sees someone drowning and instead of getting in the water to get someone, you run for a lifeguard instead.
It's such a shame that suburbia has made this the issue of the month because of Jamie Oliver. You people really need some follow through. I've recommended your blog to be profiled under "White Whine."
Childhood obesity is a more complex problem than "some fat kid who lays around watching too much television while eating too much candy and chips and drinking too much soda pop." Unless the parents are practicing due diligence with what their children eat, many of our children – both thin and fat – are malnourished because the quality of the food is HORRIBLE. No wonder the life expectancy for the Millenials is expected to DROP…
More and more evidence is appearing that the food additives and chemicals that are added to the processed convenience foods, such as artificial sweeteners, flavorings, and colorings, are making us food addicts because the chemicals are changing our brain chemistry. That includes the school lunches and fast food. Have you ever read the ingredients of McDonald's food?!?! It contains more chemicals than real food substances!
In the United States, there's been a trend to substitute real sugar with high fructose corn syrup in foods and drinks. There's evidence that the high fructose corn syrup is contributing to weight gain and body fat increases because it increases hunger.
That said – armed with this information, some parents STILL feed their children the fake foods and STILL allow their children to eat the fake foods at school.
In some cases, we're finding that some obese patients may have undiagnosed celiac disease. The celiac disease causes malabsorption, which makes the body an efficent FAT-STORING machine. Once the patient is diagnosed with celiac disease and put on a gluten-free diet, the patient loses weight easily.
Here are more articles featuring studies from well-known universities that backs up my statements:
http://health.yahoo.com/news/healthday/junkfoodaddictionmaybereal.html – Junk Food Addiction May Be Real
http://www.princeton.edu/main/news/archive/S26/91/22K07/ – High Fructose Corn Syrup Prompts More Weight Gain
http://www.celiac.com/articles/1034/1/Food-Cravings-Obesity-and-Gluten-Consumption-by-Dr-Ron-Hoggan-EdD/Page1.html – Tie between Celiac and Obesity
Pearl: I agree with you – "Super Size Me" is a great movie that exposes the damage that fast food does to our bodies. Another good movie to watch is "Food, Inc."
I took offense at your potshot at being overweight and doing something to get there. I was unaware that one had to be model thin in this country. I play rugby in the spring and fall with softball in summer-spring. I guess because I also weight lift, I must be overweight and unattractive because I'm over the recommended BMI and heavier than a stick figure yet my overall statistics of blood pressure, cholesterol, blood sugar etc are low-normal.
Be careful of who you judge; when you point a finger, there's four more pointing right back at you.
I'm going to agree with the commenters who aren't coming back to read. You've shown yourself to be petty and judgmental. I also agree that there is no need for you to get famous off of this blog. You aren't doing anything monumental. You're simply taking photos of lunches and posting them. You're not doing anything to change them, just whining about them.
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