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