Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Spare the fat, spoil the child

Since 1981, obesity (defined as being 20 per cent or more above ideal weight for age and sex) has tripled among Canadian children, from 5 per cent for both sexes to 16.6 per cent of boys and 14.6 per cent of girls. The number of overweight children has increased from 15 per cent overall to 35.4 per cent for boys and 29.2 per cent for girls.
"There are tremendous health consequences," says Dr. Warshawski, now very serious. "What you see in the short term are mental-health issues, poor self-esteem. A child who is significantly obese is self-conscious and treated differently by other children." A study in the U.S. found that obese children were less happy with their lives than children undergoing chemotherapy for cancer, Dr. Warshawski says.
Self-esteem is important, but not deadly. The real threat to health
parents are failing to recognize is the long-term consequences of being overweight or obese for decades. Being overweight or obese is a key factor in health problems ranging from bad backs and arthritis caused by hauling around too much weight, to some types of cancer, heart disease and Type 2 diabetes.
"We are setting our children up for a life of ill-health," Dr. Warshawski said "Of kids born in 2000, one in three will develop type 2 diabetes because of their weight." Type 2 diabetes is not an easy life, or a quick death: generally, as the condition worsens, veins shrink and organs wither away. It can mean years of pain and disability, potentially ending in blindness,amputations and kidney failure.
I thought type 2 diabetes was genetic, inherited, and not caused by being fat? Is this guy hyping hysteria or what? Our kids are getting fatter so they're automatically going to get type 2 diabetes and that definitely means it always gets worse and leads to years of pain and disability? WTF!! Could the reason that the numbers of fat children have tripled in the last 20 years be because the BMI standards for what is considered "normal" have been lowered at least once in that time? Could it also be that kids are getting taller, and with that comes increased weight?
Of course kids who are fat have self-esteem issues. They are bombarded with thin images, messages that thin is ideal, fat is lazy, fat is stupid, fat is ugly. They are bullied by peers, parents, teachers, strangers. They are taken from their parents and told that their parents are abusing them by letting them be fat. If a child does happen to have loving parents who foster a sense of self-worth not based on their child's size, that child still has to deal with what is said outside his/her home.
Physician-delegates attending the 140th annual meeting of the Canadian Medical Association (CMA) in August set their sights on curbing the obesity epidemic by recommending governments implement both mandatory 30-minute daily exercise periods for all school-aged children and youth. Delegates also called for creation of a user-friendly supplement to Canada's Food Guide that would outline a comprehensive strategy for children and youth on how to reach and maintain healthy weights.
A comprehensive strategy for children and youth on how to reach and maintain healthy weights. RIIIIGHT! No one has been able to do that for adults, what the hell makesthem think they can do it for kids? And who decides what is a healthy weight? The BMI is flawed since it doesn't take into account the fact that muscle weighs more than fat, so that a muscular person could weigh more than a flabby person the exact same size (and by size, I mean height and body measurements). Not to mention that you can't tell who is healthy and who is not just by looking at them. And why is being healthy such a moral imperative? It is not possible for every person on earth to have the exact same level of health as every other person on earth.
There are too many variables in life to be able to assure everyone the same level of health. Where you live, what kind of job you have, married or single, had kids or not, what kind of food you eat, how you handle stress, your genetics, substances you've been exposed to in the course of your life, all of these can affect your health, and there aren't many of them that can be controlled well enough to assure health.
In spite of the fact that people are getting heavier (or maybe because of it), our life expectancy is increasing. The so-called obesity epidemic that is supposed to be shortening our lives doesn't actually seem to be doing that, in any part of the world. I don't think it's going to shorten our children's lives either.


  1. Type 2 diabetes is strongly genetic, though people with no family history can still develop it. Age and high stress are two big factors, as well. Fat, especially abdominal fat, can be a *symptom* of insulin resistance and diabetes. Fat diabetics can control their diabetes as well as anyone without having to lose weight, too. There's lots of interesting new research coming out about how the fat cells of people predisposed to type 2 diabetes act differently within the body - there's more to diabetes than insulin and glucose.

    And if being fat caused diabetes, you'd think more than 5-10% of the population considered "obese" would have it.

  2. Yeah, that's what I thought I had read. My husband is diabetic, and so were both of his parents and a couple of his brothers are too (there are 6 boys in his family). He's not what I would call fat, although he does have extra fat in his abdomen. He wasn't diagnosed with it until he was 34 and had to do his separation physical when he got out of the Navy after 20 years of service.
    My dad was diagnosed with diabetes last year, and he is 74. He was never fat either, and isn't now, he's stocky and always has been (he was a mechanic, so I'm sure there's quite a bit of muscle on his frame too). I'm not sure if anyone in his family was diabetic, so don't have a clue what caused his.

  3. This is a bunch of bull. Kids have a natural, temporary period of insulin resistance when they're about to hit puberty. It allows them to develop a layer of (omg ew!) fat so they can have an energy store for the changes that are about to happen.

    Only, fanatic practitioners have been testing kids for this, and, because they either don't know about or don't remember about the insulin resistance, start inappropriately diagnosing kids and medicating them--for something they shouldn't really even be testing them for, and WOULDN'T be, if it weren't for the hysteria surrounding adipose tissue.


  4. It irritates me that Type 2 diabetes is usually demonized as a disease that will kill you and/or leave you suffering from dreadful side effects. Uncontrolled diabetes can lead to dreadful consequences but someone whose diabetes is well controlled will probably not develop kidney disease, go blind, or have their feet amputated. If you have never smoked and control your blood sugar then your chances of developing these conditions appear to be no worse than the general population.

    There are now multiple ways to control Type 2 diabetes ranging from Diet and Exercise(it seems to me that this is too often held to be the Holy Grail) to oral medications to insulin. Personally I use all of these and remain well controlled even though I am definitely fat.

  5. caprice, I think that diet and exercise, oral meds, and insulin are all tools that can be used to control diabetes. I don't think that any of them are the Holy Grail, so to speak, they are just tools, and as such, should be researched to see which of them will work best to control diabetes for each individual. It may be one of them, or a combination of them that works. But that is something that has to be done on an individual basis. It's not something that someone can say "Oh, this worked for me, it will work for you too."
    rioiriri, yeah, I read that article, I just blanked on it when I was posting (brain farts are becoming more common the older I get....lol).

  6. Vesta, I definitely agree with you that there are many ways to control diabetes and that what works for me may not work for another. That's why I am surprised that there isn't more reported on the various treatments. Instead, we hear about the killer disease that will inevitably cause amputation, blindness, and kidney disease. It not only doesn't have to but it shouldn't.

    Then there is the implication that if you weren't fat, you wouldn't have diabetes. As we all know(heavy sarcasm here!)if you would just use willpower you would be thin and therefore would not have diabetes. Therefore, the diabetes is your fault and you should suffer. OK, a bit of hyperbole there but what fat person hasn't been to a doctor and been told to "lose weight" to cure whatever. When I was first diagnosed with diabetes, that was the first treatment offered. That's what I meant about diet and exercise being the Holy Grail.

    To be fair, some doctors do keep up with treatment changes. My 40 year old son was diagnosed last year and was immediately put on medication that is keeping him in the normal range with a minimal change in diet. I do have to keep mailing the good low carb tortillas from Denver to DC!


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