All right, I was instructed to write a “glorious rant” about this, but quite frankly, I’m plumb tuckered out, so I’m just gonna make with the cross-postage and quote other people extensively.
The subject is Fat Kids And What We’re Gonna Do About Them. I’ll fill you in after the jump in on what a bunch of wankers, some of them representing government agencies, are suggesting, but let’s start off with my expert advice on What To Do About Fat Kids: hug them. They damn well need it these days.
So an “Expert Committee” composed of reps from the AMA, CDC, and HHS has released new recommendations for managing the weight of children and teens. Here’s the short version: all kids and teens with a weight above the 85th percentile (going by rassafrassin’ BMI, natch) must receive a “special intervention.” Stage 1: new diet, more exercise. If that doesn’t make the kid thin after 3-6 months, we move to Stage 2: a strict low-cal, low-fat diet, supervised exercise, restrictions on TV time, and “increased monitoring by provider and/or family.” If they aren’t losing enough after another 3-6 months,
The child or teen is be placed in a structured behavioral modification program, which includes monitoring of their eating and activity, and the primary care provider and family is be involved in the behavioral modification.
All of which would be okay if, you know, too much food and lack of exercise were the only things that make kids fat, and if diets made fat people thin, and if growing kids didn’t need fat and calories to do that whole growing thing, and if it weren’t, you know, government agencies exerting control over citizens’ bodies. And maybe if they specified what the fuck a “structured behavioral modification program” is instead of just dangling that out there. And if fat weren’t primarily genetic. And if BMI were a reliable measure of “healthy” weight, especially in children. And if weight itself were really a huge health problem, which it’s not. And… wait, no, this is just straight up NOT OKAY. Nothing could make it okay.
But wait, that’s not all! I wrote this at my own blog this morning:
Another reason not to have children: If they’re fat, they could be taken away from me.
The News said that doctors are “calling for the government to enact stricter child protection laws and take action against the parents of obese children under 12” and that they should be considered guilty of neglect.
I mean, you all knew we were already moving in that direction, right? Now somebody’s come right out and said this should be policy. In Scotland, granted, but that doesn’t comfort me. I trust that Americans won’t let anyone else be Number One in Fatphobia for long.
What I find most galling is this quote from the doctor who’s suggesting that obesity be considered “parental neglect”:
I would say that having a child who is overweight poses as much a danger to their health as a child who is suffering malnutrition, or arguably more risk.
That is just so stunningly, offensively (on so many levels) wrong, I don’t even know where to begin. Being overweight is an arguably greater risk than starving? Are you fucking kidding me?
Apart from that bit of jaw-droppingly bad science, Sandy sums up the big pile of wrong better than I could:
We would need no other evidence of just how strong the social morality of health and wellness has become than if healthcare professionals and consumers fail to resist these unsound measures en masse. The soundest research for more than half a century has shown that obesity is not caused by “unhealthy” eating or sloth; that fat and thin children and adults eat and act no differently — and not nearly as badly as is being sold in media; that our children have never been healthier; and that no childhood obesity intervention has ever been able to show long-term effectiveness, only harm. The new guidelines for managing weights, diets and activities of U.S. children is a turning point in our country — a test of science over beliefs and agendas.
Fat Fu also picked up on all this and dissected it quite brilliantly, including noticing this humdinger: “The magnitude of the obesity epidemic is too great to wait for evidence-based guidelines before increasing efforts focused on prevention and intervention.”
The “threat” is too great to wait for evidence. There ain’t enough *headdesk* in the world.
I’ll leave you with two quotes from her, which pretty much sum it all up:
So even though we’re always told that fat is just a matter of “good nutrition and exercise,” good nutrition and exercise are apparently not good enough. Even if all the things that are supposed to “prevent” fat don’t prevent fat, then extreme measures must be taken to make prevention “work.” Which means, in the end, that “prevention” just amounts to forcing on kids the same weight loss strategies that don’t work on adults.
So, it’s pretty much exactly what the critics have been saying. This war on obesity is a panic. It’s the panic that’s driving it, and not evidence. There’s no more evidence that fat can be “prevented” than there ever was that it can be “cured.”
No, wait, actually that’s way too nice to sum it all up. I’ll leave you with The Rotund instead:
I’m all for body autonomy. You can do whatever you want with your body because I respect your right as a human being to have free will and be self-regulated. I am not going to tell you, as an adult, not to go on a diet or pursue whatever it is that will make you happy with your body. I might not want to be involved in your diet talk, but I’m not here to tell you not to do it, either.
But if you want to put your goddamn kid on a highly restricted diet and teach them about shame and body-hatred and why they are bad people because they do not meet the useless numbers on the BMI chart? You want to tell your kid s/he is lying to you about what they ate because otherwise they’d be losing weight? We’re going to have a serious problem. And don’t try to placate me with “well, it’s medically supervised and the doctor says it is okay!” because, honestly? That doesn’t generally mean shit.