Childhood Obesity

Posted Saturday, May 17, 2008, 8:25 PM

Fat kids. What's up with that?

The health experts claim that childhood obesity is increasing, and that up to 20% of kids are considered obese. They say that this is worse than any other country except the US, and it's an epidemic.

But I don't see any evidence of this in my daily life. When I see kids walking around, especially in school groups, I try to pick out the obese ones to check the data. I see maybe 3 in every 40 kids, consistently, as being what might be called obese. Well, that's nowhere near 20%, it's barely 8%. And, on top of that, that's also reflected in my observation of adults - though the percentage is worse as one gets older, it's still nowhere near an epidemic for adults either; it seems to me to be pretty much the same as it's ever been.

Here are three examples from various eras, completely randomly gathered from the internet. The first example is from 1954: 1 out of 16 show signs of obesity, i.e. slightly plump around the face. The second is from 1981: 1 out of 28. And the third is from 2007: 2 out of 25. I think that's conclusive enough; it's not actually as bad as they're claiming.

I think what's happening is the measurement of obesity has changed. Methodology has improved, and ratio measurements of fat-to-muscle and suchlike are now more accurate. Couple that with a subtle change in what constitutes "obese" these days, which I suspect is a lot less forgiving than in the past, and I say this hysteria is based on very little.

Now, having said that, there are some obese kids around, and this ought to be addressed. But it's not worth the media panic, the public outcry, or the money thrown at it. Kids are kept as active as ever, and are eating healthier now than they were in my day.

Just stop the lies, exaggeration, the media madness. It's really not as bad as all that.

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