Friday, July 20, 2007

So which is it?

A new study has been released in Australia describing trends in the weights of children and teens. I don't have much to say about the study itself, but the sort of schizophrenic way that it seems to be reported.

A Google news search presents first an
article from The Age. The title is "Children's Obesity Rates Keep Rising." But the rise in children who are overweight in a sample of 9000 went up only 1.3% in six years. Hardly an inflmatory number. They seem to miss the point of real concern in the study.

The Brisbane Times seems to have gotten it a bit better. It seems that a significant number of girls, about 6% increase, have used such activities as vomiting, laxatives and smoking as ways to control their weight.

This is no surprise to us who are not making ourselves crazy with starving ourselves anymore. Because, really, hypervigilance around weight and food makes you crazy (you do have to eat to live, after all). When we tell children that being fat is not only socially unacceptable but dangerous to them, we induce anxiety. When we tell them (they who are still growing and changing) that they need to control their "out of control eating" to remain thin, they use their best judgement sometimes based on input from their environment on how to enact this control.

It is okay if you want to make yourself crazy by trying to control your access to a life-sustaining resource. It is not okay to encourage children to do the same.

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