obesity

On childhood obesity, acting and not acting are both choices

In two prior posts, I’ve agreed with influential blogger Morgan Downey that the proposal in Puerto Rico to fine the parents of obese children is a bad idea, and that the food environment has a great deal to do with the globesity crisis.

But I balked at the implication that parents don’t have primary responsibility for obese children. I wouldn’t have said so before 5 or 10 years ago — because I didn’t get it — but now it’s clear: incorporating fitness and nutrition into children’s worldview is a basic ingredient of child protection.

If fines aren’t the right tack, though, what can be done collectively? I usually fail, but I’ll try to be brief. Clearly, the basic choices are to act or not to act.


Parents must protect against the food environment

In a recent post, I reacted to writer Morgan Downey’s mockery of a ham-handed suggestion in Puerto Rico to fine parents whose children are obese.  I think the suggestion is not helpful, but I objected to Downey’s giving not even a nod to the fact that parents do have a huge role in how kids learn to eat.

Downey focused his prescription on the food environment, and though we agree on its potency, I would put the onus on parents here, too, in part because in this world, a crucial role for parents is to educate their kids about media excesses — which is to say, “media.”


Fines for child obesity are a bad idea, but...

"Puerto Rico doesn’t have the answer" is the headline of Morgan Downey’s recent post about an island proposal to fine parents whose children are obese. Worst idea ever, he says.

Right up front: I don’t want to fine parents of obese kids either. Bad idea, in every way. But the post has enough meat to chew on that it’s worth checking in anyway. Here’s Downey’s comment upon disclosing the idea:

"Oh, that will help! 'Parents: Starve your children and you save a few bucks!' Wow, what a deal! That will overcome the cries of hungry children.”

I’ll dispense with the dumb crap before getting to the worthwhile issue: Starvation? Cries of hungry children? Is there no middle ground between starvation and obesity? One doesn’t starve children into good health, any more than one does to overfeed, or poorly feed, or exercise no control over food choices.


What's a penalty, and what's an incentive?

A vital issue brought up by the Affordable Care Act is whether employers can penalize employees who decline to take part in wellness offerings. Some consider it a civil rights issue if companies penalize employees who won’t act that way their employer wants them to.

I see that some could see it as an issue, but I hesitate to agree.


On Ted Kyle's "three tribes of obesity"

Ted KyleWriting on ConscienHealth, Ted Kyle talks about the three tribes of obesity, whom he labels the Healthies, the Quants, and the Buttouts.

It’s not hard to see where the sympathies of Kyle, chairman of the Obesity Action Coalition, lie, from his choice of descriptors: In his paragraph on the Heathies, he writes:


"The healthcare system doesn’t benefit from our being healthy."

Welcome to another installment of “10 Words or Less,” in which I ask brief questions of interesting people and request brief answers from them in return. Today’s participant is the co-producer, co-director, and writer of “Carb Loaded: A Culture Dying to Eat,”  a film that came out Oct. 1. We spoke on Oct. 3, and you can find a video version of our conversation here. Please remember: “10 words” is an intention, not a limit, so please, no counting. If you think it’s easy, let’s see you do it.

Lathe Poland, co-creator  of "Carb Loaded."Name Lathe Poland
Born when, where Carson City Nev., winter 1973
Where do yo live now? Fairfield County, Conn.
Occupation Filmmaker
Family composition "Married 17 years with amazing wife, just the two of us."
An early formative experience “Learning [in junior high school] that food could trigger migraines for me had a pretty big impact on my view on nutrition.”
Your first paying job “You’re going to love this one. I dotted chocolates at a chocolate factory [pause] which actually connects to the previous answer I gave you."
Wisdom you retain from that experience "Find work that you actually love to do."


10 Words or Less with Lathe Poland of the film "Carb Loaded: A Culture Dying to Eat"

We recorded this interview Friday, Oct. 3, two days after the film's release. Poland and his partner, Eric Carlsen, financed the film, which looks at how America feeds itself and the effects thereof, through Kickstarter. As regular readers know, I'll be following up this post with an edited text version of the interview sometime in the next week. But for now, our conversation just as it happened...


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