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CDC Commits Millions to Fight Obesity in Poor Kids

October 17, 2011

This plan seems (to me anyway) like a case of wasted money on investigating a solution for a problem that doesn’t really exist: the “childhood obesity epidemic.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has announced a new $25 million four-year research project to combat childhood obesity in low-income kids, who are at higher risk.

Preventing childhood obesity can also prevent a number of diseases later in life, including type 2 diabetes, asthma, and heart disease, the CDC said

Why are low-income children at higher risk of being fat? Could it possibly be that they have parents, grandparents, great-grandparents, and other relatives who are fat (remember, being fat is up to 75% heritable), just like other fat kids who aren’t poor?

And, pray tell, why isn’t the CDC worried about preventing type 2 diabetes, asthma, and heart disease for those who weren’t fat as children and aren’t fat as adults, but have those diseases? Thin people with all of those diseases exist, but no one is up in arms about eradicating thinness to get rid of the diseases thin people have.

“Over the last three decades, obesity rates among children and adolescents have nearly tripled,” said CDC Director Thomas Frieden, MD, MPH, in a press release. “Obese children are more likely to have asthma, depression, diabetes, and other serious and costly health problems. This project will help figure out ways our children can grow up to lead long, healthy, and productive lives.”

Well, let me see now: asthma can be caused by a lot of things, but being fat isn’t one of them (correlation is not causation); depression has been shown to be related to how stressed a person is (in other words, the more stress you have in your life, the more likely you are to be depressed) and stigmatization and bullying for being fat is enough to cause stress in a child; and type 2 diabetes is genetic, so if you have a parent with type 2 diabetes, you’re more likely to end up with it. Add stress from stigmatization and bullying to that, and you have a recipe for developing T2D early.

If the CDC wants to figure out ways to help children grow up to lead long, healthy, productive lives, how about ending stigmatization and bullying for being fat? That alone would go a long way to helping kids have happier, healthier lives.

The project — called the Childhood Obesity Demonstration Project — will award grants of $6.2 million each to the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, San Diego State University, and the Massachusetts State Department of Public Health to identify effective ways to prevent childhood obesity.

The University of Houston will get $4.2 million to determine which strategies worked best and to share the experiences of the three research sites.

Ya know, I’m just going to throw this out here: if $60 billion spent on diets/pills/WLS hasn’t made adults thin and ended the so-called adult “obesity epidemic”, how in hell do they think they’re going to come up with anything that’s going to make fat kids thin for only $25 million?

Oh, wait, here’s how they plan on doing it:

The projects will be aimed at children ages 2 to 12 who are enrolled in the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), which covers more than 7 million kids from low-income families.
The projects will “include combining changes in preventive care at doctor visits with supportive changes in schools, child care centers, and community venues such as retail food stores and parks,” according to an agency press release.

In addition, community health workers will help connect hard-to-reach families with limited English to resources that can teach them about disease prevention, disease management, and health insurance.

Well, now that they’ve explained how this is going to work, I’m convinced. How about you? Do they really think this is going to fly with the current crop of Congresscritters we have who are bound and determined to undermine and destroy every social safety net we have? Sure, I’m just positive that Congress is going to allow enough money for poor kids’ parents to be able to buy fresh fruits and vegetables, meat, milk, eggs, cheese, and all the unprocessed foods that will allow them to have a varied diet.

And they’re definitely going to make sure that those poor kids’ parents will be able to work jobs that pay them decent wages and have enough time to shop for those foods and prepare them, not to mention have a decent place to store/prepare them.

Oh, and Congress will be sure to legislate that stores will be in all neighborhoods, not just the “good” ones or the “safe” ones. And they’re really going to make sure those kids have safe places to play, along with adequate medical care. Yeah, all that will happen when pigs fly.

These government entities are so “concerned” about obesity and its so-called costs to society, but they could give a rat’s ass about what their “concern” is doing to the fat people they’re trying to eradicate in children or adults.

Wring your hands and cry all you want, CDC and the rest of the federal government, because I don’t believe you when you say you care about the health and well-being of fat kids or fat adults. If you cared, you wouldn’t be trying to erase us; you’d be getting rid of the stigmatization and discrimination we face on a daily basis.

So, CDC, you can take your $25 million and put it where it will actually do some good: buying 200,000 copies of Linda Bacon’s Health At Every Size and passing them out to every government official who thinks fat needs to be eradicated.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. October 17, 2011 10:33 am

    I just love your suggestion of distributing Linda Bacon’s book!

    As the chubby child of a chubby mother who was 100% into healthy eating waaaay back in the 60s, who never kept sugary stuff in the house, who only bought whole wheat bread when everyone around us ate Marshmallow Fluff on Wonder bread, I say “stuff it” to those who think that if you’re a fat child, it’s automatically because your parents were ignorant, junk-food eating sloths.

    If I had one thing to change in the schools (and this is definitely related to fat bias), I would create an environment where ALL kids were encouraged to engage in fun, physical activities. When I was growing up–and I suspect it’s the same today–the athletic kids were praised to the sky while the fat little slow-pokes (yes, I’m talking about myself) just wanted to wither up and die from shame. The feeling of embarrassment and shame at always being chosen last or next to last for team sports is still with me, decades later.

    The only real solution is HAES.

    • October 18, 2011 12:55 am

      That’s what I say! Encourage activity for everybody and come down hard on the bullies. Nobody should be shamed for their body type–ever!
      I wasn’t a fat kid but I was uncoordinated as all get out. I’d had multiple ear infections in early childhood and ended up having drainage tubes in my ears. My sense of balance was crap. All good little girlies are supposed to be able to do cartwheels at the least, right? Little Faycin could do both a forwards and backwards somersault and headstands and handstands, but nary a cartwheel. So little Faycin was placed in “remedial gym class.” That and being labeled “borderline retarded” because I scored poorly on the Ravens pattern recognition test still sticks with me.
      I’m currently taking a psychology class and looked over the Ravens test. I still can’t do it! But back in the day they hadn’t heard of a little thing called “dyslexia.” I’m actually not terribly dyslexic with words, but I am with numbers and patterns!
      This crap does stick with a person, that’s for sure.

  2. lifeonfats permalink
    October 17, 2011 1:52 pm

    Given the conservatives’ reaction to Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move,” I think any program aimed at improving (despite the fat-hate bingo) the lives of low-income children and their families isn’t going to wash right now with them because of the intent to slash health-related assistance while at the same time crying for “personal responsibility.”

    I think the CDC would have been better off spending this money actually providing the food assistance to low-income families the government is trying to end. The economy has led to many families wondering where their next meal will come from—shouldn’t that be a more important issue to worry about? Instead, they clutch their pearls over the boogeyman of childhood obesity rates, which contrary to all reports, has been at a plateau for five plus years.

  3. October 18, 2011 12:24 am

    I think with their economy in deep recession and ANOTHER WAR the Americans should be focusing on more important things than whether or not fat low-income kids are eating their Wheaties. Fer fucks’ sake, do some research, CDC, and back off the fat kids!

  4. October 18, 2011 1:25 pm

    Childhood obesity has become a flash point for the entire obesity issue, while nobody wants the government regulating their parenting choices. However, they see nothing wrong with focusing the attention on those whom society feels they have the “right” to impose health standards on because of the social services they rely on.

    But, yeah, considering the austerity-mania in our government today, I wouldn’t be surprised if this got the axe, which is a shame because improving access to nutritious foods and safe places to play should be a priority for ALL children, not just the fat ones.


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