Paul Campos has an article in the New Republic arguing against Michelle Obama's declared war on childhood obesity. He tends to use overheated rhetoric, and I don't feel equipped to judge his claim that obesity is not harmful (I do, however, think it is at least worth questioning whether obesity is a cause of ill health or a correlation with it).
I do, however, feel equipped to agree with him that there is overwhelming evidence that the proposed solutions for childhood obesity are ineffective at solving obesity. More exercise and better nutrition positively impact health, but they do not, in the long term, reduce weight.
Given that we don't really know why obesity is increasing, and we don't know how to solve it, but we do know how to improve health - I totally agree with Campos that Michelle Obama has the wrong focus. Making a focus on health more generally will make a positive change, without stigmatizing heavier kids or their parents.
Update [via Dan]: Ambinder weighs in. (See what I did there? Oh, never mind.)
Update II: Electric Bugaloo [via Elizabeth again]: I think Ambinder has some good points. I would like to be clear. I am by no means saying we should throw up our hands about children and nutrition and health. I also do not wish to say that childhood obesity rates do not indicate there's a problem. I'm just not sure whether the obesity rate is merely an indication, or the root cause. I strongly believe in the benefits of a diet of whole foods (by which I mean non-manufactured, non-processed), home-cooked meals eaten together as a family, healthy foods in school, and exercise. Reduced TV is good, too. But I am in favor of these measures not because they reduce obesity, but because they promote health.
If FLOTUS were to focus on the nutrition and exercise issues, I think that would be far more useful. Success would also be much easier to achieve, and therefore people would stick to it longer. It is far easier to persist in eating healthily when your goal is to eat healthily, then it is to wait for the scale to move down (and such a wait is often in vain). Success in eating healthily is achieved on a daily basis. Success in losing weight is extremely hard won, and almost never maintained. Again, look at the statistics here.
Such a focus would also encourage parents of skinny kids to sit up and take note.
Desperate President on the Loose - Here’s a quick attempt to piece together a very disturbing situation. This is from Bloomberg … Read More →
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