Any Fat Kids in Your 8th Grade Class?

Notes Obesity is defined as body mass index greater than or equal to sex- and age-specific 95th percentile CDC growth charts from 2000. Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Credit: Stephanie d'Otreppe/NPR
Tough Love: Obesity is killing our Kids

It has not been too long that someone I went to grammar school with sent me a copy of a photograph of my 8th grade class, standing on the steps in the front of Minnie Holman Elementary (RIP) in Birmingham, AL, in 1962.

Aside from the fact that I remembered immediately every name of every face (except one), I was struck by the fact that not a one of the 25 of us was even approaching obesity. If you are 50 or more years old, you might have the same observation. The few kids who were overweight were conspicuous, and not uncommonly, the target of the kind of abuse and cruelty that kids are capable of.

But today, it might be the skinny kid who is odd-man-out, and the target of abuse from the fubsy majority.

Billboards in the Atlanta area are demanding that parents “stop sugar-coating” the obesity epidemic. “It’s hard to be a LITTLE girl–when you’re NOT!” Another billboard reads. It’s jarring and frank. In your face. And urgently necessary, because, believe it or not, parents don’t see (or can’t face) the fate that obesity will bring to small if excessively adipose bodies of their children.

I’ve seen it, as a physical therapist. My professional life only spanned about 20 years, and the number of morbidly obese patients I saw for pressure ulcers, blown joints (especially knees) and pernicious deconditioning climbed alarmingly over that span of time. This is a health crisis of horrible proportion. Had an enemy state somehow inflicted this kind of suffering on our population, we would be going to war.

It is time to go to war on obesity. No sugar coating. But not everybody thinks so.

Read or listen to “Controversy Swirls Around Harsh Anti-Obesity Ads : NPR”, from which the above graphic was gathered. Then consider how to respond to obese people you (tough) love.

Notes on Image:
Obesity is defined as body mass index greater than or equal to sex- and age-specific 95th percentile CDC growth charts from 2000.
Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Credit: Stephanie d’Otreppe/NPR

 

Published by fred

Fred First holds masters degrees in Vertebrate Zoology and physical therapy, and has been a biology teacher and physical therapist by profession. He moved to southwest Virginia in 1975 and to Floyd County in 1997. He maintains a daily photo-blog, broadcasts essays on the Roanoke NPR station, and contributes regular columns for the Floyd Press and Roanoke's Star Sentinel. His two non-fiction books, Slow Road Home and his recent What We Hold in Our Hands, celebrate the riches that we possess in our families and communities, our natural bounty, social capital and Appalachian cultures old and new. He has served on the Jacksonville Center Board of Directors and is newly active in the Sustain Floyd organization. He lives in northeastern Floyd County on the headwaters of the Roanoke River.

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3 Comments

  1. Wow. Good for that Georgia pediatric hospital. That took guts. I hope their next series of ads aimed at adults, encouraging them to act, will lessen the criticism of what they are doing. I can see the critics’ point, that obese children will feel even worse about themselves when they see the ads. But they get plenty of grief from their peers.

  2. “Obesity is defined as body mass index greater than or equal to sex- and age-specific 95th percentile ”
    …hmmm…

    a) either we will over the long term never have more than 5% obesity (once CDC updates their CDC growth charts from 2000) or,
    b) we need to have a chart that shows the hieght/weight correlated to health problems and call this the medically obese state.

    Either way, yes, it is a real big problem. Pun intended

  3. And we are being far too nice – at the core is what goes on in the home – it is no accident that are kids are fat. It is not “genes” if few were fat 40 years ago it is not genes.

    On the other hand Fred – the CW is that fat makes us fat. It is the grains and the sugar/HFCS – key components of processed food that are at the root. But the food guide and organizations such as Heart and Stroke that make it harder for parents to do the right thing.

    And for all those mums that say they are too busy to cook a real meal – the average American family spends less that 30 minutes on feed prep/eating an cleanup a day – reconciles the 5 plus hours a day in front of TV

    I wonder – do they love their kids?

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