Friday, January 06, 2012


I was reading candyland to bandland's blog about the new obesity intervention public service ads that are running in Georgia.  As we all know the South has one of the bigger problems with obesity then in other areas of the country and I have to say that I understand the intent was well-meaning.  But if they seriously think the same type of campaign they do for not trying Meth is going to work for obesity then the creators of this campaign have no idea how obesity effects those who are obese.

It's not like you can say, don't try food because once you try it you're hooked and your life will be all about stealing money to buy that pizza you're craving.  At first it's whining to mom you want the sugary cereal while walking down the cereal aisle and next it's stealing jewelry to get enough cash to score skittles in an alley from a dealer.

Here's one of the supporters/creators who talks about the research about being effective, what she's not saying is the research is most likely market research determining if people thought the ad campaign was effective in creating a dialogue about obesity, not if it's effective in the solving the problem of childhood obesity. For that you need evidence based research -- this is the problem when you try to move this out of the health arena and into the marketing arena -- this can not be solved by focus groups.

Okay, maybe they're not as scary as those don't try meth commercials (and have you seen those, they freak the he.ll out of my kids YAY). Yes, I do think that parents should get their heads out of the sand about it.  But what research (and not market research but evidence-based research) shows is that health care providers, especially pediatricians are loathe to bring the subject up.  Where is the ad campaign for them?

My kids' pediatrician? oh my gosh he's on board! My oldest is 95th in height and 70th in weight, he's quick, good in sports eats anything and is skinny and enjoys being active (I think he may have been switched at birth) my younger one didn't get so lucky, he's 97th in height and 105% in weight, which puts him at a too high BMI, even with that massive height.  He's really built big, the kid has muscular thighs and shoulders that would have made the shoulder pads Linda Evans wore  in Dynasty look discrete. But he also has a 'bowl full of jelly'.  The pediatrician said he didn't want to do a weight loss plan for him, he just wants him to grow into his weight.  He does snack too much, he does like junk food too much.  He does Karate, but we've upped the ante and he has to spend some time on the elliptical if he wants to play video games and now only one snack after school instead of grazing.  I tell him it's about health, not about weight.  I tell the older one too.  No sugar treats or soda during the week either, weekends in moderation.

I'm trying.

Even if I hear grumblings that I may be abusive when I tell them they have to eat all their vegetables and their reward is just a hug and not chocolate.

I don't want my kids to struggle like I have.

Okay, back to the actual issue....(if you've been reading my blog you know I digress, I also take liberties with grammar...whatever, oh look I digressed again --- so seriously, NOW back to topic)

Kids are in school more of their life then out of school, where is the funding to have health and nutrition classes? Why is physical education one of the items to be cut out of programs?  Why is recess only ten minutes long?  And have you seen the crap that's served in school lunches.  A sugary fruit cup is NOT a fruit choice no matter how you cut it.  This is particularly important because obesity tends to run higher in low income areas and those kids are getting free and reduced lunches, so if we want to help our children, how about lobbying for healthier school lunches, longer recess and PE every day.

Okay, so I feel a bit passionately about this, it's what I'm doing my Master's project in.  That project I should be working on instead of doing this  let's just call this research (wink wink).  In an article I'm reading "Fighting an Epidemic: The role of Schools in Reducing Childhood Obesity" by Sara Pyle, et al says "Interventions targeting obesity in the schools should be designed to promote healthy weight rather than focus on losing weight or obtaining a specific weight" in fact focusing on weight reduction may cause other problems, such as growth decline or feelings of failure and exacerbate other issues such as depression or impaired self esteem.

So yes, let's get educated on obesity and obesity in children. We can do something about it, but let's go about it in an emotionally and physically healthy way.

Stepping off soap box now.


Rock Chef said...

The other evening we were watching a tv prog about a fat school. That is a full time boarding school where things are run like a fat camp. It was awful. Parents were sending their kids there and acting as though it was not their problem! Ack!

tz said...

It's such a complex problem, parenting, genetics, culture, society, education and economics. Fat camps work but stress weight loss and not health and because kids are sent away they don't have the skills they need to maintain weight loss when they get back to the environments where they gained weight. Shaming is not the answer...well it didn't work for me at least :D.

I do hope I am not repeating the problem with my own's hard being a parent and wanting to be a good one....

Bridgett said...

1. Did you ever see the "oh meth!" commercial with the cleaner girl? That was terrifying. Hideous. My sisters, who have used a few recreational drugs (pot, really), STILL point to that video as why they never ever tried meth. That commercial worked, for them at least. It's on youtube...

2. Obesity is different, for the reasons you list. I can decide right now that I will never use meth or heroin, but I cannot say "I will never eat anything with carbohydrates or refined sugar ever again" because that's ridiculous.

3. We live in urban St. Louis, and our kids go to a grass-roots charter school. Their take on this is that the stats for children who qualify for free/reduced lunch, once they grow up? Abysmal, we have to do something. So we've started a culinary arts program/farm-to-table. Our sponsor university has nutrition masters' students come and work for the woman in charge (who grew out of that program) and they cook, this year, on Fridays; next year in our new building, every day. They cook with the kids--each class has a day every other week. Kids are eating butternut squash mac & cheese today, with gluten free black bean cinnamon brownies and a lettuce & pear salad. They spend about $1 a student/day. Most importantly, it means all the children get exposed to eating in season, eating healthily, tweaking recipes, learning to cook cheaply and from scratch. The goal is to break a cycle of dependence on processed foods. And I think we have a good chance of it working.

Gioia Albi said...

Well put Tracey. I'm scared for what our children will face. I have lots of thoughts and emotions on this topic especially as someone who has been fluffy for decades because of the meds that I took to save my life from anorexia. So my punishment from anorexia (when everyone loved my figure and told me how gorgeous I looked) was to be fluffy and live with a lifetime of people calling me heavy and fat. Now that I'm thinner, people who knew me are constantly telling me how good I look and strangers are remarking about me being "thin" (though I have another 30 pounds to go until I'm thin) and I'm confused about how I should feel. Shouldn't I be entitled to "look good" at any size and shape without people's judgment? And yet, I know I need to be healthy. It all feels unhealthy to me psychologically.

ganelle said...

A great post.

I think that the sociocultural/ economic issues are big part of this. The percentages of obesity are much higher among lower income groups - but why? It certainly seems easier and cheaper to eat poorly.

As for the commercials - they are powerful. And maybe getting people talking is the first step, especially if so many parents are in denial.

very interesting...