We're Fat

[Editor's note: today, we unveil a new feature at BlueOregon. The category "elsewhere" will be used to point readers to other blogs that are talking about the kinds of things you might find on BlueOregon. Enjoy!]

Over at his blog, Eric Carlson points the way to a study about obesity and what Oregon is doing about it. You see, here in Oregon, we're the 19th most obese state, with 21% of all adults - and it's spreading to our kids.

Eric's got a round-up of various legislative proposals, including measures to bar vending machines in schools, to create a statewide P.E. requirement, etc.

Check it out.

  • Mitchell Santine Gould (unverified)

    A few years ago, a public debate raged over the corporations who supply snacks to school kids. I seem to recall that parents were specifically concerned over the soft drinks which kids chug down each day.

    So a simple-minded fix, namely banning sodas, was proposed. It failed for a wide variety of reasons. Pre-eminent among these: Do you suppose that the carbonated titans are going to cede their profits without sending a host of lobbyists to defeat such a ban?

    So now what?

    In my view, there's really nothing with soft drinks per se. It's the calories which do the harm. Soda pop has no nutritive value, to be sure, but the "healthy" alternatives are not quite as healthy as we thought. Orange juice, for instance, provides nutrients but also lots of sugar; and who wants to try to persuade children to drink skim milk, in an effort to avoid milkfat?

    The first step to helping our children is to ban all high-calorie soft drinks in the schools, but to allow zero-calorie items without restriction. I don't think these hurt kids, and in fact, provide a source of very pure drinking water.

    The biggest obstacle to this? The massive sugar lobby. Are we going to allow them to wreck our children's health?

    After we protect our kids, let's protect ourselves. I predict that someday, there will be no sugary sodas on grocery shelves anywhere, and then we'll all be healthier.

  • Becky (unverified)

    I am amazed when I look at my kids' classmates - so many of them are overweight now compared to when I was a kid. My kids eat school lunches just like these other kids, but they make an effort to go for the fruits and vegetables and understand what foods are unhealthy. Still, it is often very difficult for them to find food at school that is good for them. Fortunately, we feed them well at home. Other kids aren't so lucky in that regard. Fast food, pre-packaged food, etc. are making our kids fat and setting them up for shorter, less satisfying lives. And many parents have bought into the idea that it's OK to let their kids choose the foods they will eat, so they don't make them eat their vegetables. Restaurants offer kids' meals that are disgusting, and parents accept the notion that kids, for some reason, eat different food from adults. We've worked hard from the beginning to introduce our kids to all kinds of nutritious food. When kids get homemade baby food full of vegetables, they grow up liking them. If you wait until they're adults, they'll never like them.

    The best thing we could do for our kids in this regard is to have comprehensive health and nutrition classes starting in first grade and continuing through high school, with increasingly detailed and scientific information given. I also think the film "Supersize Me" should be required viewing in high school. My kids saw it and they won't have anything to do with McDonald's anymore.

  • Jonathan Radmacher (unverified)

    I am curious to see a breakdown of obesity by region. When walking around downtown, and paying attention to whether or not I would characterize passerbys as "obese" (yes, feeling a little judgmental, but presumably we're supposedly talking about some objective measurement, right?), it seems like maybe 5% would fall into that category. My suspicion is that communities that are designed to allow walking between work, home, restaurants, etc. would score lower on the obesity percentage index.

  • Elizabeth Cage (unverified)

    I've been living in Australia for 4 1/2 years and both times I've returned to the US (September 2001 and July 2003) I've been really stunned by the sheer size of many Americans and particulary children and young people. I don't think it's a trick of memory I think it's gotten much worse in recent years -- as the stats show. My going away and coming back as a visitor made it pretty obvious to me.

    The problem exists here too and there's a lot of this sort of public hand wringing over it (as there should be) however it seems big Australians just aren't as big as big Americans and that they tend to be older (women of a certain age with a couple of kids and beergutted men seem the norm).

    In the States my husband and I were gobsmacked by the number of XXXL 20-somethings and kids. But then we were stunned by the size of servings as well -- 64 oz. of soda served with a straw? Restaurant meals big enough to serve two, etc. Frankly we had to laugh but it's really pretty disgusting and sad.

    I don't really have anything to offer by way of a solution as at the end of the day it will come down to indivdual families deciding to eat less and exercise more in the face of overwhelming cultural messages urging consumption, selling sweet and large as equal to good, and pushing convenience over quaility.

  • Tom Civiletti (unverified)

    I volunteered for a food services committee at NC12 when my daughter attended [now a freshman at UofO architecture school]. I was not alone in calling for healthier food in school lunches. Very little changed. The reasons most often given by the contract vendor for maintaining status quo were:

    • We serve what the kids will eat.

    • We get food free from the federal government.

    The first is damn silly, since we send kids to school in order to change them, not cater to their kindergartien selves. The second is evidence of agricultural subsidies gone bad. Does it make sense to subsidize production of food that kills us? I think not.

    <h2>There should be no soda pop available in public schools. I'd rather my kid drink fluoridated water!</h2>

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