Everything you know is wrong, including the fact that everything you know is wrong.
It used to be said that advertisers should be able to get by, spending only half as much, because 50 percent of all advertising is wasted. Only problem — nobody knew which was the wasted half. (This was before the exquisite market-targeting capabilities of the Internet, of course.)
Life is like that too. It’s only common sense, and part of the very nature of things. Of the sum total of everything we think we know, at any given moment, a hefty proportion of it is bound to be incorrect. Problem is — and you might have guessed it — sometimes it’s difficult to know what information is valid. And sometimes, different things are valid at different times, for different people. Plus, about a million other variables. Sigh.
Take exercise, for instance. ScienceDaily reports on a study from Britain, where childhood diabetes researchers at the Peninsula Medical School have found that a sedentary lifestyle doesn’t really contribute to overweight in kids. In other words,
[…P]hysical activity has little if any role to play in the obesity epidemic among children.
Say what? The article goes on to state that the children in the study lost, on average, three ounces in three years. The researchers conclude that the popular paradigm is wrong, or at least not always right. We have become used to thinking that inactivity leads to fatness. They’re saying maybe fatness leads to inactivity. The evidence was published in Archives of Disease in Childhood:
Physical activity had no impact on weight change, but weight clearly led to less activity.
What this means is, we can mandate physical education programs in schools until hell freezes over, and it’s not going to help. Unless you consider losing once ounce per year a good outcome. This is, as Dr. Pretlow puts it, of tectonic importance. It also confirms the firsthand experiences of kids, that he has collected in Overweight: What Kids Say. Dr. Pretlow says,
First Lady Michelle Obama’s ‘Let’s Move’ campaign to eradicate the childhood obesity epidemic is predicated upon the belief that sedentary lifestyle in kids is in large part responsible for the epidemic. The study in the Archives of Disease in Childhood refutes that premise and would seem to take much of the wind out of Ms. Obama’s sails.
No one is suggesting that physical activity isn’t important for children. It banishes depression, benefits the cardiovascular system, increases self-confidence, helps them cope with the boring sit-stillness of classes, and bestows myriad other benefits. Exercise is great, but the right time to deal with childhood obesity is at the ingestion stage.
Once the eating has been done, it’s too late, and no amount of calisthenics can undo the harm. The study indicates that the focus must shift to what children consume, how much of it, and why. Those questions lead inexorably to the need to look at another new paradigm: food as an addictive substance, which is abused like any other addictive substance.
Your responses and feedback are welcome!
Source: “Inactivity ‘No Contributor’ to Childhood Obesity Epidemic, New Report Suggests,” ScienceDaily, 07/08/10
Image by planetc1, used under its Creative Commons license.