Childhood Obesity News http://childhoodobesitynews.com A resource for health professionals, parents, teachers, counselors & kids on the childhood obesity epidemic. Wed, 29 Jul 2015 19:03:03 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.2.3 The Gut Microbiome as Obesity Villain http://childhoodobesitynews.com/2015/07/29/the-gut-microbiome-as-obesity-villain/ http://childhoodobesitynews.com/2015/07/29/the-gut-microbiome-as-obesity-villain/#respond Wed, 29 Jul 2015 10:00:54 +0000 http://childhoodobesitynews.com/?p=15281 Intestines“The Gut Microbiome and Childhood Obesity: Connecting the Dots” was published in the June 2015 issue of the journal Childhood Obesity. This interview with Noel Theodore Mueller, who is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at Columbia University Medical Center, strongly incriminates gut bacteria as a cause of childhood obesity.

The first thing to know is that a human intestinal system typically plays host to “tens of trillions” of creatures, mostly bacteria. The great majority of them are commensal, meaning we don’t bother them and they don’t bother us. In fact, they provide us with services. But a gutful of imbalanced microbiota can throw a monkey wrench into the works. That condition of imbalance is known as dysbiosis.

Many scientists are quite satisfied with the evidence that the microbiome, the world of organisms that live inside us, has a very great influence on autoimmune conditions, as well as infectious diseases and metabolic disorders. Mueller goes so far as to say:

In fact, it is within the realm of possibility that microbiota play a role in most human pathologies. The upside for those interested in improving public health is that, unlike our genetic code, the human microbiome can be modified and cultivated by lifestyle and environmental factors.

Based on various studies, he leans toward the opinion that if intervention is to be carried out to influence the gut microbiota, the best time is during the first three years of life. It seems that then the door begins to close—but it never closes all the way, and researchers in this field find that augmentation of the intestinal fauna can be therapeutically effective later in life. The best-case scenario will be to discover how to fix the problem in newborn babies, or possibly even when they are still in their gestational stage.

Mystery still surrounds the exact process through which a baby acquires its first colonies of bacteria, although obviously the mother has a lot to do with it. But like the proverbial onion, this topic has many layers. Dr. Mueller says:

These earliest exposures to the microbial world are also paramount for educating the newborn immune system, developing their organs, and also potentially programming their metabolic function.

Metabolic function seems to have a lot to do with obesity, and if the gut microbiota
strongly influence the metabolic function, the connection can’t be ignored. The strongest evidence comes from Washington University:

Seminal research from Jeff Gordon’s lab out of Washington University in St. Louis has demonstrated that transplanting obese fecal microbiota into germ-free mice causes these mice to become obese compared to germ-free mice inoculated with fecal microbiota from normal weight individuals. Importantly this translational research showed
that the observational association between gut microbiota and obesity might indeed be causal.

In some quarters this is regarded as quite an astonishing claim, and our following post will take a closer look at that study.

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Source: “The Gut Microbiome and Childhood Obesity: Connecting the Dots,” Liebertpub.com, June 2015
Image by Memi Beltrame

 

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The Tax Conundrum http://childhoodobesitynews.com/2015/07/28/the-tax-conundrum/ http://childhoodobesitynews.com/2015/07/28/the-tax-conundrum/#respond Tue, 28 Jul 2015 10:00:21 +0000 http://childhoodobesitynews.com/?p=15278 tax2Childhood Obesity News has been tracing some of the developments in efforts to offset the public cost of the consequences of obesity by levying tax on soda pop, junk food and fast food. Relevant to this, a recent New York Times article by Dariush Mozaffarian and David S. Ludwig quoted Dr. Kelly Brownell, Dean of Duke University’s Sanford School of Public Policy. Brownell wrote:

I expect history will look back with dismay on the celebration of baby steps industry takes (such as public-private partnerships with health organizations, ‘healthy eating’ campaigns, and corporate social responsibility initiatives) while it fights viciously against meaningful change (such as limits on marketing, taxes on products such as sugared beverages and regulation of nutritional labeling).

Of course it is difficult to force any aspect of the food industry to change its ways or curb its enthusiasm for ever-increasing profits. America was built on the ideal of freedom, and businesses never hesitate to claim their share of it.

One of the main reasons behind the drive to add a “sin tax” to the price of any product that is harmful to people is the collection of revenues that, in theory anyway, are used to alleviate the cost of medical care to people who develop diseases because of the product. But any citizen who follows up on the result of such movements is likely to feel discouraged and betrayed.

Broken Promises

At one point, the tobacco industry was made to pay a $246 billion dollar settlement to be shared among state governments and doled out over a 25-year period. A couple of years ago, National Public Radio looked into how that money is spent, and what it found was not good. Rather than use it for preventative education, cancer research, or the actual care of patients, states have funneled the settlement funds into whatever seemed needful at the moment—literacy programs, road work, and even financial assistance for tobacco farmers.

Attorney Mike Moore, who was instrumental in winning the case against the tobacco companies, told NPR that “most of the settlement money came with no strings attached, and that has made it impossible to hold states accountable.” In Mississippi, for instance, Moore described the situation like this:

What happened as the years went by, legislators come and go, and governors come and go…so we got a new governor and he had a new opinion about the tobacco trust fund. So a trust fund that should have $2.5 billion in it now doesn’t have much at all…

With this kind of precedent, it is no wonder that voters are leery of tax proposals. A second justification for adding a “sin tax” to the cost of products is to steer shoppers away from buying them. A report from ScienceDaily.com examined the psychological effects of this idea. A study conducted by Cornell University and RTI International found that one-third of consumers were not aware of the tax status of products they bought. While it is true that many or most grocery chains include tax information on the receipts, consumers do not routinely study those receipts or make use of the information they gain from giving the matter such attention.

The researchers suggest that instituting the tax at an earlier stage, by imposing it on manufacturers, wholesalers, and distributors, might be effective. That would make the full, true price of the item appear on the store shelf signage, rather than in the pale obscure numbers on the long strip of paper stuffed into the bag at the end of the transaction. But for now, their summary stated:

Increasing sales taxes on sugary foods to promote healthier food choices among grocery store shoppers is unlikely to be effective because many consumers are unaware of the tax differences on food items sold in grocery stores.

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Source: “Why Is the Federal Government Afraid of Fat?,” NYTimes.com, 07/09/15
Source: “15 Years Later, Where Did All The Cigarette Money Go?,” NPR.org, 10/13/13
Source: “States aiming to promote healthy eating through sales taxes often miss the target,” sciencedaily.com, 12/18/12
Image by 401(K) 2012

 

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More Obesity Villains Identified in Media http://childhoodobesitynews.com/2015/07/27/more-obesity-villains-identified-in-media/ http://childhoodobesitynews.com/2015/07/27/more-obesity-villains-identified-in-media/#respond Mon, 27 Jul 2015 10:00:31 +0000 http://childhoodobesitynews.com/?p=15272 Peppa PigThe latest candidates for childhood obesity villains in the media are chubby cartoon characters such as Homer Simpson and Peppa Pig. Homer Simpson is perhaps over-familiar, but childless people might not be cognizant of the 5-year-old little British girl pig, star of a cartoon show whose humor is designed to impress toddlers and preschoolers. The drawing, according to one critic, appears to have been done by a Ford Pinto, which may be the first time the name of that hazardous car has been used in an artistic context.

Some parents hate the show and have expressed a wish for the cast to be eaten by a pack of wolves, while others would like to see the characters turned into bacon and fed to the deserving poor. An online parents’ guide gives Peppa Pig a 5-star rating, calling the animated series mild, very cute, simple, adorable, and pleasant, with “strong social lessons about kindness, loyalty, and being thoughtful.”

The site offers an option to warn fellow parents on drink, smoking, and drugs, of which there are apparently none in this show, but does not specifically offer a category for food-related objections. There is plenty of obesity-related material, as we learn from the synopses that Christian O’Connell has helpfully provided for some of the hundreds of Peppa Pig episodes. Here are excerpts:

Daddy tries ballet dancing and gets crushed after trying to throw Mummy Pig in the air and catch her, something the two of them did in their youth. Daddy says nothing—NOTHING—about how much weight Mummy Pig has piled on since their youth, taking all the blame for the accident on himself…

The password to get into Peppa’s treehouse is “Daddy’s Big Tummy.” Daddy is upset by these cruel words but is forced to say them in order to be allowed into the treehouse. He doesn’t fit in the treehouse because he’s too big and so is forced to take the roof off to get in…

They all go for a plate of Granny’s biscuits but Granny won’t let anyone eat the biscuits unless they say “Daddy’s Big Tummy….”

Two years ago, Elissa Griesser noted the anti-Peppa grumblings in the United Kingdom, where the show has been available longer. Some parents take issue with Peppa calling her dad a fat pig. There is the disrespect factor, and an underlying message that it is acceptable to laugh about someone’s size. Other parents and critics have objected that the porcine children are fussy about food, and Peppa’s parents let her snack before dinner. Human parents don’t care for the precedent set by little piggy brother George, who yells “chocolate cake” as his breakfast request. Reportedly, George also cries when faced with the prospect of eating vegetables

An online search for Peppa Pig reveals all the usual merch associated with a popular animated hero—toys, games, videos, underpants, books, pencil cases, bath mitts, bedding, hair clips, posters, musical instruments, pool flotation devices, backpacks, lunch cooler bags, drink bottles, and the exclusive Peppa Pig Tropical Snack Pot, “perfect for storing your favorite nibbles.”

At the University of Colorado, Professor Margaret Campbell and a team studied 300 children from three different age groups (ages 8, 12, and 13). They were interested in how kids perceive cartoon characters and what kinds of stereotypes come into play. Prof. Campbell told the press:

We weren’t sure whether kids would be aware of bodyweight norms. But surprisingly, they apply typically human standards to cartoon creatures—creatures for which there isn’t a real baseline.

This study confirmed that after watching fat cartoon characters, children will favor high-calorie, low-nutrition “indulgent” food, and eat more of it—twice as much, in fact, as when the cartoons feature normal-weight characters. The belief that cartoon characters influence the minds of children is not new. A few years back, criticism moved Kellogg to portray its Tony the Tiger mascot as a slimmer creature.

Extra Bonus Announcement!

Dr. Pretlow was interviewed by Kevin Kniestedt for National Public Radio and Seattle’s station KPLU. Topics include the origin story of the Weigh2Rock http://www.weigh2rock.com/ website, the role of comfort eating in the childhood obesity epidemic, and what needs to be done. This might be the most informative 6 minutes and 44 seconds of your day!

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Source: “_Peppa Pig.” CommonSenseMedia.org, undated
Source: “Why Peppa Pig is evil,” BigIssue.com, 08/18/14
Source: “Not everyone loves Peppa Pig: when TV shows make kids naughty,” SMH.com, 08/23/13
Source: “How Peppa Pig could be making your children fat,” Telegraph.co.uk, 07/14/15
Image by Birthday cake

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Could Solving Obesity Cause Disaster? http://childhoodobesitynews.com/2015/07/24/could-solving-obesity-cause-disaster/ http://childhoodobesitynews.com/2015/07/24/could-solving-obesity-cause-disaster/#respond Fri, 24 Jul 2015 10:00:36 +0000 http://childhoodobesitynews.com/?p=15264 Coke Jeepney in Manila

Childhood Obesity News has presented quite a few posts about obesity around the world. What other health issue is so all-encompassing? It brings all of humanity together in a way that rarely happens. News of efforts to reverse childhood obesity comes from Dubai, India, and Vietnam, among others. The Arabic Gulf states are just like America, with sedentary children who eat too much fast food.

South Africa learned that well over half of its inhabitants were overweight or obese, with childhood obesity growing at a frightening rate. The research was done by a pharmaceutical company, whose spokesperson made a mystifying statement to the effect that obesity was not more prevalent among the lower economic class. If so, that would make South Africa different from most other places.

There are some championships that nobody wants to win. In 2013, Mexico surpassed the United States as the world’s fattest nation. All the signs pointed to the Coca-Cola Company as the single most responsible party. (Doesn’t “company” sound so much more down-home and relatable than “corporation?”)

What If We Were All Normal Weight?

One of the great ironies of our age is that solving one problem often causes another. Here is a thought experiment. What if all the overweight and obese earthlings were to become normal weight? That would be great, right? As it turns out, it might have unintended consequences. The reason can be found in the definition of “carbon footprint:”

The total amount of greenhouse gases produced to directly and indirectly support human activities, usually expressed in equivalent tons of carbon dioxide (CO2).

Your carbon footprint is the sum of all emissions of CO2 (carbon dioxide), which were induced by your activities in a given time frame.

Carbon dioxide is an element of indoor air pollution, and a major player in the physical condition of the globe. Climate change activists offer suggestions for how an individual can shrink her or his carbon footprint. Yes, but how does this connect with childhood obesity, or adult obesity either, for that matter?

Ruben Meerman and Andrew Brown have established that fat is excreted from the body as water and carbon dioxide. It goes out of people and into the toilet or the air. If all the overweight and obese people on the planet were to lose their extra weight instantaneously, the resulting CO2 released into the atmosphere could have a devastating effect on global warming. Of course, weight loss doesn’t happen instantaneously, and the amount of CO2 released would be negligible compared to that released daily by vehicles and power plants.

Nevertheless, it’s worth thinking about.

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Source: “What is a carbon footprint-definition – definition,” timeforchange.org, undated
Image by Chloe

 

 

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Can Pad Tag Solve Childhood Obesity? http://childhoodobesitynews.com/2015/07/23/can-pad-tag-solve-childhood-obesity/ http://childhoodobesitynews.com/2015/07/23/can-pad-tag-solve-childhood-obesity/#respond Thu, 23 Jul 2015 10:00:08 +0000 http://childhoodobesitynews.com/?p=15260 karate kick at sunriseWorld Karate Champion Johnny Linebarger is based in Tucson, where he teaches martial arts. He wants to fight childhood obesity by sharing with the world something the KoSho Karate school franchise has known about for 20 years—Pad Tag, which he calls “a fun and exciting game that gets people of all ages up and moving, naturally and easily, running, hopping, jumping, dodging, kicking and laughing their butts off.”

What’s not to like about that? Furthermore, by this time next year he wants to see a million people playing this hybrid of tag, dodgeball, and soccer, and created a Kickstarter campaign to make it happen. (It just ended, as this was written, and the funding effort was not successful.)

Previously, Reddit contributor “Narayume” had explained why it might be a terrible idea for kids who already would prefer a broken leg if it would get them out of PE class. Running, hopping, jumping, dodging, and kicking are all at the bottom of their Favorite Pastimes list, and while some people on the gym floor might be laughing their butts off, it won’t be the fat kids. Narayume says:

The last thing most of these kids want is competition and a super fit adult lording over them…

Most of these kids likely are petrified of sports, because they are terrible at it and are letting their team down, while also being mocked and in danger of physical pain and injury. Without the endorphin rush or a competitive streak sports can be seriously un-fun.

Which is why the comment suggests that Linebarger may be unqualified to build such a game—because he “clearly enjoys exercise and gets all the right happy hormones from it.” In other words, he is perceived as being nowhere close to the same wavelength or mindset as the kids who hate sports. Convinced that although obese kids might be coerced to play Pad Tag at school, they would reject the notion of playing it elsewhere, Narayume writes:

A solution to the obesity epidemic is desperately needed, but it won’t happen while sports lovers assume that everyone is just like them and just need to really try sports to get into it…

Instead someone needs to help these kids find an exercise or form of movement they enjoy—no matter if it is Kinect Zumba or LARP or just walking or dancing or…anything else really.

In that same discussion thread, another respondent wrote about his own super-conscientious lifestyle in a way that was kind of humorous but also braggy. This inspired Narayume to tailor separate replies for the general audience and to the self-described super-fit person:

Assuming one size fits all is dumb and this guy assuming that overweight kids just need more PE to finally get fit is stupid and demonstrates a severe and embarrassing lack of knowledge and understanding of the problem and the kids involved.

Your way of life is lovely for you, I am sure, but it is not going to get someone fat to change their ways, because to them it sounds like hell.

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Source: “World Karate Champion Wants 1 Million People Fighting Childhood Obesity Through Play,” ayudos.com, 06/30/15
Source: “World Karate Champion Wants 1 Million People Fighting Childhood Obesity with Outdoor Game Padtag (ayudos.com),” reddit.com, 2015
Image by bluesbby

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One Woman’s Story – Chrisetta Mosley http://childhoodobesitynews.com/2015/07/22/one-womans-story-chrisetta-mosley/ http://childhoodobesitynews.com/2015/07/22/one-womans-story-chrisetta-mosley/#respond Wed, 22 Jul 2015 10:00:57 +0000 http://childhoodobesitynews.com/?p=15257 Chrisetta MosleyOccasionally, to see what can be learned, Childhood Obesity News looks into the lives and thoughts of formerly obese people, not all of them national or international celebrities. Chrisetta Mosley has achieved renown in her neck of the woods, an area that encompasses both Vancouver, WA, and Portland, OR, where she has been the subject of many news articles.

No, she is not reed-thin. Her struggle against obesity is ongoing—but Mosley’s story is inspiring nonetheless, because it is a story of a life dedicated to sharing knowledge and hope with others. As a blogger, teacher, and cookbook publisher, Mosley is all about taking personal responsibility to break the cycle:

I don’t want to see [childhood obesity] continuing. I’ve got to talk the talk and walk the walk.

In 2011, Mosley told her story (up to that point) to journalist Scott Hewitt. She came from a family of 8 kids where money was as scarce as nutritional consciousness, and Kool Aid was the house beverage. Culturally, fat babies were seen as cute, and hefty kids were regarded as lucky to be so well-fed. During the college years, her life was shame-driven. The reporter relates this detail:

Her ultimate (but secret) humiliation: She used to check what rooms her college classes were scheduled for, and if they included attached desk-chair units, she’d quietly appeal to the administration to move the class to a different room—with furniture that fit her.

Characterizing herself as “a product, and now a survivor, of childhood obesity,” Mosley tells about the low point, when she weighed 388 pounds and could barely walk and or even breathe:

The whole world was an obstacle course…I was a miserable, fat, gross person.

This was hitting absolute bottom. But, perhaps swayed by the lure of a quick fix, and certainly not thinking straight, she opted for gastric bypass surgery. Unfortunately, the medical professionals did not emphasize the need for a change in lifestyle from the ground up.

It is tempting to “blame the victim” by wondering why the patient didn’t get out there and research the subject on her own. But ultimately, that part of Mosley’s medical history serves the useful purpose of a cautionary tale, warning other surgical candidates to insist on a good education about how to proceed. Complicating the situation was the fact that, although part of Mosley’s anatomy had been removed, the tendency toward emotional overeating remained intact. There was another factor. She wanted to set a good example of normal weight for her teenage daughter, Jasmyn. The desire to reach for health was still strong,

Sharing the Struggle Against Obesity

Mosley shared the whole process in her blog, “Farewell, Fatso,” (the source of the photos on this page) complete with healthful recipes, helpful workouts, and notes on personal reprogramming. Writing posts for the public helped keep her honest with herself. There have been setbacks. The fall of 2009, when job, car, and boyfriend all unexpectedly exited from her life, was particularly awful. She responded by signing up at a local gym for classes in weight-lifting, yoga, Zumba, and whatever else was offered.

In 2011 Mosley was hit by a car and had to live for months in a wheelchair—not the best place to either work off calories or plan a sane diet. But she banished fast food and sugar-sweetened beverages, and concentrated on a sensible home-cooking regime allowing a very infrequent edible treat. Six years after starting an obesity-beating life, only 38 years old, not perfect but still in there pitching, she had tamed the bulk down to 225 pounds.

Chrisetta Mosley has a currently active Facebook page, but three years after the interview with journalist Hewitt, she put her blog on hiatus, writing:

As I was talking with a respected professional, this was her advice: “Time to stop visiting the past… Only focus on today and moving forward.” She’s absolutely right. Time to stop living in the past. This is who I am today. No more looking back…I’ve put on some of the 170 pounds I had lost. I’m upset with myself. Disappointed…So where I am today is what I must embrace…It’s time to use the past to make tomorrow better.

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Source: “Woman packs on happiness as she sheds pounds
Columbian.com, 07/13/11
Source: “In between, the past
Blogspot.com, 11/16/14
Image by Farewell, Fatso!

 

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Fatlogic’s Power to Cloud Minds http://childhoodobesitynews.com/2015/07/21/fatlogics-power-to-cloud-minds/ http://childhoodobesitynews.com/2015/07/21/fatlogics-power-to-cloud-minds/#respond Tue, 21 Jul 2015 10:00:29 +0000 http://childhoodobesitynews.com/?p=15254 pregnant flea market attenderThe ability to think rationally and the ability to rationalize are quite different. Rational thinking starts with observing the world, before drawing conclusions about it. Conversely, rationalization starts with conclusions that a person has already come to, and then takes bits and pieces of reality and bends them to serve its unhealthy purpose. Dr. Pretlow says:

In our studies, nearly all the obese youth refused to look at why they eat such large amounts…They threw up all kinds of justifications (deflections) against reducing amounts, e.g. they NEED the amounts they eat or they won’t be able to play football, study, sleep, etc. One parent vehemently claimed that her 250-pound 13-year-old needed 2,800 calories per day for his weight.

One reason for the existence of fatlogic is apparent right there. It’s hereditary. Parents conceive beliefs and pass them on to their kids. An early education in fatlogic is especially insidious because we are pretty much raised to respect and perpetuate these received teachings. Failure to listen to our elders equals disrespect. Also, children are born with an inherent desire to admire, believe, depend on, and imitate their parents. Knowing this, it behooves parents to bequeath only true and health-promoting beliefs.

Children are not the only creatures who can be influenced. To varying extents, adults are also influenced by the people around them. Starting a family is a delicate transition point in life. Looking forward to the birth of a first child, many adults are easily swayed. Often, prospective parents are anxious and scared and afraid of doing something wrong.

A first-time mother, especially, is emotionally vulnerable because of hormonal adjustments within her body and brain. As the baby develops, the mother will absorb solid medical information, terrifying war stories, folk wisdom, and old wives’ tales. A Reddit correspondent called “rpsoon” reflects on the worrisome stories she heard about, and from, women who gained weight while pregnant and never could lose it. Her doctor advised adding no more than 20 extra pounds. But a friend insisted:

You need to eat more. You’re eating for two now…Now you can eat everything you want and get as fat as you want. And no one can judge you because you’re pregnant.

Pregnant women get plenty of unsolicited advice. But really, anyone can fall prey to unrecognized fatlogic. A man might be told that his wealth of testosterone will make it easier for him to lose weight, if he ever needs to, so might as well go ahead and eat hearty.

Another Reddit forum member, “BarracudaCat,” has been successful in working toward a healthier weight. He mentions how the defenders of obesity will claim that poverty prevents them from buying vegetables, and anyway, “healthy” is a code word for “skinny,” and so on. He also gives two stunning examples of how fatlogic has the power to cloud minds:

You mention a personal experience losing weight by cutting portion sizes? They blast back “Some of us are too poor for a fancy gym membership and personal trainer!”

Everything is misdirection, strawman arguments, ad hominen attacks, false dichotomies…One person’s weight loss “doesn’t mean it’s possible for everyone!” and yet “MY bloodwork is fine, that means ALL fat people are healthy!”

In the first instance, the disagreeable fatlogician was not even listening, and replied to something entirely different from what the speaker had said. The second case is a classic example of cognitive dissonance—the ability to believe two mutually contradictory things at the same time.

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Source: “22 Weeks In: Bring On The Pregnancy Fatlogic (self.fatlogic),” reddit.com, 2014
Source: “Dismantling fat logic makes me an “ignorant prick”, Reddit.com, November 2014
Image: Bradley Gordon

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Fat-Shaming has Become a Thing http://childhoodobesitynews.com/2015/07/20/fat-shaming-has-become-a-thing/ http://childhoodobesitynews.com/2015/07/20/fat-shaming-has-become-a-thing/#respond Mon, 20 Jul 2015 10:00:15 +0000 http://childhoodobesitynews.com/?p=15250 x-ray of a 900-pound manWe already had racism, faith-based bigotry, and several other varieties of divisive doctrines. Wasn’t that enough to deal with? Apparently not, because now fat-shaming has become a “thing.” One of the weird aspects of this type of prejudice is that obese people are by no stretch of the imagination a minority. There is a world-wide epidemic of obesity, but rather than diminishing, the passionate disparagement of fatness continues to grow.

Orson Scott Card wrote a speculative fiction novel, Xenocide, in which overlords tampered with the genetics of an entire planet full of people, so that some of them would be very intelligent but also afflicted with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder to the point where they were easily controllable. Anyone who spends hours meticulously tracing the woodgrain pattern across a floor is unlikely to have time or energy for political rebellion.

A close look at worldwide obesity statistics can inspire the paranoid fantasy that something equally sinister is going on in real life. Why is everybody so big? Can they really not help it? For people who have never struggled with weight gain and obesity, it is important to believe that size is entirely a matter of volition and choice. The idea that a person might just get fatter and fatter and be helplessly unable to do anything about it, is chilling.

For the sake of their sanity, lean people have to swear that this could never happen to them. The next logical step is to accuse obese people of letting it happen to them—because to admit otherwise would destroy the necessary belief that a person can totally wield control over this area of life. And the next step after that is to dislike obese people for being a blight on the landscape, and for demanding two airplane seats, and for expecting the taxpayers to fund their bariatric surgery, and whatever else it is they do to annoy normal-weight people.

900-Pound Man?

The illustration on this page is supposedly the MRI image of a man weighing 408 kilograms, or 900 pounds. At some point it went viral, although controversy exists over whether it is real. At any rate, some Health At Every Size advocates are sick of hearing a certain cliché that this picture seems to represent. They hear the saying too often, and it gets on their nerves, and they are moved to declare:

There is not a thin person trapped inside me.

This, in turn, antagonized Jean-Philippe Dufour, who was impelled to rant against the slogan’s addle-brained critics. The following is only a small excerpt from what he wrote in rebuttal to any food addict who insists there is no thin person trapped inside:

Yes, there is you delusional sea cow. Your obesity is slowly killing the organs desperately trying to keep you alive. Your cardiovascular system is a wreck…Your digestive and endocrine system is on the brink of exhaustion…Your skeletal system, especially around your joints, is at a constant struggle against gravity…This isn’t love. This isn’t acceptance. This is you ignoring all of these valiant struggles to keep you alive and spitting it in the face, leaving it to die a slow agonizing death. That thin person is not trapped, they are being tortured.

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Source: “This Xray image of a man weighing 900 pounds goes viral,” TheNewsMinute.com, 06/24/14
Source: “Facebook.com, 01/10/14”
Image by TheNewsMinute

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Another Globesity Roundup http://childhoodobesitynews.com/2015/07/17/another-globesity-roundup/ http://childhoodobesitynews.com/2015/07/17/another-globesity-roundup/#respond Fri, 17 Jul 2015 10:00:21 +0000 http://childhoodobesitynews.com/?p=15246 Diet Coke on the wall

A week ago, Childhood Obesity News explored the parameters of globesity. Many posts have taken a closer look at specific places. Today, let’s recall some of them.

In general, the United Kingdom’s childhood obesity rate is similar to ours, although the government’s way of gathering statistics is a bit haphazard—according to some American scientists, that is, and no doubt some British scientists. Not long ago, people in the UK were polled about their top ten concerns surrounding the obesity epidemic.

Like us, they favor an activity-friendly environment, with fewer fast-food joints around schools and less junk-food advertising. They would like to see hospitals and schools adopt improved nutritional standards and offer better programs to educate healthcare professionals. They would prefer stronger societal support for new parents, and better weight management services. More extensive food labeling is an idea that attracts some. As a deterrent and as a way to increase available government funds for health care, the taxing of sugary soft drinks and junk foods has definitely been considered. If all the three million citizens of the UK who are technically eligible for bariatric surgery decide to have it, the nation’s healthcare budget will be strained.

Other Interesting Places

Canada was England’s child that didn’t run away from home, and that retained more of the old country’s ways. Geographic proximity and shared language suggest that what works in Canada might also be effective here, and many Americans wish that the United States would be more like our northern neighbor in other ways as well. If Canada’s recent attempt to institute a fat tax had succeeded, we would have been tracking the results anxiously. Unfortunately, the scorn of Canadian critics was fueled by Denmark’s unsuccessful fat tax experiment.

Globesity in Some English-Speaking Countries” went further into what the Canadian critics were so mad about, and took a peek at the situations in Ireland and Australia. Another post looked at the experiments with packaging and taxation in those two nations. Australia’s closet neighbor is New Zealand, and anyone who doesn’t already know about it might be shocked about what happened there.

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Image by Mulligan Stu

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Fatlogic and Self-Deception http://childhoodobesitynews.com/2015/07/16/fatlogic-and-self-deception/ http://childhoodobesitynews.com/2015/07/16/fatlogic-and-self-deception/#respond Thu, 16 Jul 2015 10:00:29 +0000 http://childhoodobesitynews.com/?p=15240 where I keep my genetics

One of the most popular fatlogic tropes is the genetic theory. It is true that a certain amount of obesity is genetically determined. However, this is often seen as a poor excuse—not only by people who have no weight problem, but by formerly obese people who have “been there, done that” and no longer accept the rationalization. A frequently-repeated slogan is, “Genetics may load the gun, but you fire it.”

It is generally agreed that self-acceptance is a necessary condition for change, and must precede it. In some cases, the achievement of self-acceptance requires considerable mental gymnastics. It is such hard work that some people get stuck there. Positive self-talk, the little cheerleading sessions meant to boost a person over a psychological hump, can become the basis of a whole philosophy. If a person is not careful, she or he might become entangled in a web of self-deception and self-justification.

This is one reason why early intervention to prevent obesity is so crucial. It isn’t good, either physically or psychologically, for a child to get used to the feeling of being overweight, and the longer it goes on, the harder it is to change course. For a child old enough to be aware of fatlogic, it does not help to let them get used to thinking in the peculiar language of fatlogic.

People acquire beliefs from their upbringing, like the idea that a child with any visible bones must be starving. Older relatives pass along all kinds of notions that can mess up kids. For instance, a Reddit.com participant asked, “What Fatlogic Did You Believe in the Past?” A member called “Stolypin26” replied:

That I was just naturally 300 lbs thanks to genetics. My entire family still believes this despite the obvious problem my weight loss poses to that theory. They still swear up and down I’m gonna gain it back and that I’ll never get below 200 lbs…I’m dead set against proving them right….

One offshoot of fatlogic is fear that a child will get hurt during physical activity, and to be fair, that is not an entirely unrealistic fear. Fat kids do get hurt— and so do fit kids. Rugby player “Blackborealis” recounted the fears of joint damage and other injuries that his female relatives laid on him. He says:

I look at them, both on the wrong side of 50, both obese (my mom morbidly so), both with joint aches and sleep apnea, and think to myself that it’s pretty much a guarantee that my body will deteriorate. I’d just rather destroy it while conquering opponents as opposed to conquering a bag of sour cream & onion Lays.

Sane adults will invent for themselves justifications that they know are entirely silly, like the idea that if you snag a tasty morsel off someone else’s plate, the calories don’t count. Here are other examples from the same fatlogic thread:

If something is organic/low fat/whole grain, I could eat as much as I want.

I can eat a lot as long as I do it in the morning. Gotta fuel myself.

Your body can only absorb so many calories in a day so cheat days can be a free for all.

One more donut/beer/brownie/cup of ice cream/oreo/piece of chocolate won’t hurt!

Blamed my lack of exercise on my knees. Funny how my knees have improved since exercising.

Here is an interesting rationale offered by “Treeclimber3” as an example of abandoned fatlogic:

I assumed there were real and fundamental differences in how people’s bodies operate, because I didn’t see all the hard work that others did to get their fitness. I’d see people running or lifting weights, but it looked so easy for them, and I was so hard for me, I just assumed they were of a different caliber that I couldn’t measure up to.

The formerly obese “Treeclimber3” learned that it is never too late to initiate a healthier lifestyle. But that doesn’t mean the matter is not urgent. It doesn’t imply that obesity should be accepted. Early intervention is better than late, and total prevention is best of all.

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Source: “What Fatlogic Did You Believe in the Past?,” Reddit.com, 11/05/14
Image by fatlogic reposts

 

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