About a year ago, Dr. Judith S. Palfrey was appointed to lead Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! campaign to fight childhood obesity. The former president of the American Academy of Pediatrics became the new executive director of Let’s Move! Emmarie Huetteman wrote for The New York Times:
During more than 20 years as head of general pediatrics at the Children’s Hospital of Boston, Dr. Palfrey developed and implemented social programs to improve health care for children, particularly those with disabilities and in underserved communities. Based on her research, she has written five books and more than 100 articles exploring how social factors affect the health of American children.
Around the same time, Mrs. Obama asked the National Restaurant Association (NRA) to change its ways and take a more proactive approach to encouraging healthful foods and eating habits, especially where children were concerned. Of course, the NRA told the press that many restaurants had already changed their menus. Feeling a bit defensive, NRA? Here is the controversial part, as R. Way Ford expresses it:
Oddly, Federal ‘Farm’ Subsidies are actually […] funding cheaper production of foul foods and additives which promote childhood obesity — U.S. taxpayers paid more than $245 billion in Federal agriculture subsidies, from 1995-2009! […] These taxpayer subsidies to agribusiness make junk food ever more cheap than healthy food! They directly contribute to the wave of childhood obesity sweeping the U.S, especially among the poor and/or minority groups.
One headline reads, “Michelle’s $4.5 Bil Law Focuses On Childhood Obesity As Kids Starve.” There are dangerously thin children all over America, the uncredited author writes, and the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act encompasses an “astounding irony”:
A few months ago taxpayers financed a dubious $2 million project in which a high-tech device tracked what minority public school children ate for lunch in one Texas district. The idea was to calculate how many lunchtime calories poor and minority kids consumed at five elementary schools targeted by the First Lady’s childhood obesity revolution. The goal was to inspire parents to change their children’s eating habits at home.
While Michelle Obama’s campaign wastes money on this sort of nonsense, doctors in hospitals across the nation report a disturbing trend of severely malnourished kids whose families have fallen on hard times. Emergency room physicians say they are seeing the highest number of hungry and dangerously thin young children in a decade.
Eric Pianin, a writer for The Fiscal Times, also reflected on the tragic consequences of an ill-conceived farm policy, when he wrote that 75% of the subsidies go to less than 4% of the farmers, and the preponderance of the funding goes to corn and soybeans. The journalist speaks of a report issued by the U.S. PIRG Education Fund, accusing federal agricultural policy of underwriting the obesity epidemic by promoting “obesity-fueling empty calories.” Pianin says:
Congress and the Department of Agriculture are spending more than $1.28 billion annually to subsidize the crops that are used as additives in manufacturing cookies, candies, soda pop and other highly popular junk food that arguably are among the primary contributors to childhood obesity… [H]undreds of billions of dollars on a small handful of crops including corn and soybeans that are processed into additives. They are the mainstays of the junk food industry.
If things go on as they are, we are told, half of all Americans will be overweight by the year 2030.
Your responses and feedback are welcome!
Source: “Pediatrician to Head ‘Let’s Move,’” The New York Times, 09/02/11
Source: “Michelle Obama Addresses Kids’ Most Devious Danger: Childhood Obesity!,” Gather, 09/16/11
Source: “Michelle’s $4.5 Bil Law Focuses On Childhood Obesity As Kids Starve,” Judicial Watch, 07/28/11
Source: “Billions in Tax Dollars Subsidize Junk Food Industry,” The Fiscal Times, 07/25/12
Image by Lee Cannon.