legislating fat kids

I find myself hugely exasperated by the government and health care industries attempts at warring against the obesity “epidemic.” Where do you draw the line between good intentions and trouncing on people’s personal liberties?

Take for instance this entry at Junkfood Science about legislative updates on school childhood obesity and BMI screenings. Basically, recommendations have been made to the legislature by drawing innocuous and incorrect conclusions from research studies whose own conclusions are very different from those put forth in the Legislative update. It’s astounding how people will twist information to fit their own conclusions.

But what I’m most concerned about (and flat out offended by) is the intrusion of public school systems into the fight against obesity. How are public school officials in any way qualified to measure and assess the health of a child? And how is this in any way part of educating a child?

Height and weight measurements aren’t anything new to school systems; it was done 20 years ago when I was a child. Not with my consent and probably not with my parents consent. What I remember most about those times is the stigma of being the fat girl and lying about my weight to other girls in my class.

I can clearly recall when I was 10 years old, sitting around in gym class after my height/weight was measured and feeling hugely embarrassed by the discussion amongst the girls about their weight. My 125 lbs was mortifying when most girls weighed 80-some pounds. I didn’t understand how my build affected my weight; I was about 5’5″ tall and a solidly built German girl. No one told me that being as many as 6 inches taller than some of the 80-lb girls explained a large chunk of the weight gap.

That experience was mortifying enough. I can’t imagine having a whole school system pressuring me to lose weight. Being the fat kid was hard enough and all I wanted was to be able to get through a day unnoticed.

Now, with whole school systems focusing on obesity, a fat kid won’t go unnoticed. Adult figures will now be turning more and frequent attention on kids who want to go unnoticed, forcing them into the spotlight. And that spotlight will make them a moving target for every bully in the school.

I guess this is one way to solve the obesity problem: make all the fat kids suicidal enough that they don’t make it to adulthood.


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