Can't Blame Technology For Fat Kids

from the so-what-is-it-then...? dept

There have been so many stories lately about childhood obesity, where it’s simply assumed that the cause of the problem is that kids are sitting in front of screens (TV and computers) rather than going out and chasing a ball or something. In fact, there seems to be a whole industry growing up around this theory. However, what if the initial assumption is wrong? That seems to be the thesis of some new research, saying that there’s no clear link between childhood obesity and increased technology usage. The details of this claim are in a new book, The Obesity Epidemic: Science, Morality And Ideology which looks over 250 studies on the matter, and says there’s no real link. Of course, it’s unclear from the article if they have any research of their own to show what is causing the problem — which would be a lot more convincing than just ripping apart all the other studies. All the article gives is an anecdotal story about one of the researchers’ nieces and nephews — which doesn’t seem all that scientific or, for that matter, convincing.

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Comments on “Can't Blame Technology For Fat Kids”

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dorpus says:

Poor Understanding

Yup, when I walk into retail book stores, I’m frustrated by the many “science” books that are very un-scientific.

Human fat metabolism has proven to be very different from animal models, so research progress has been slow. Mice can become rail-thin and stay that way with injections of leptin, but it only works temporarily in humans.

We also have a parallel, possibly related epidemic of precocious puberty. Some say it’s related to obesity, some say it isn’t. There are racial differences in incidence; blacks mature faster than whites, and evidently Asians mature faster than blacks. Some scientists say it’s related to environmental factors, others say it’s genetic.

(NCBI is a comprehensive resource for medical literature.)
“Testicular volume in Japanese boys up to the age of 15 years.
Matsuo N, Anzo M, Sato S, Ogata T, Kamimaki T.
Department of Paediatrics, Keio University Medical School, Tokyo, Japan.

Japanese-American Hybrids have fingers that grow faster than either Japanese or Americans

Tokyo children have bigger hands than other kids from around the world

Asian and black kids have higher bone mineral density than white kids

Premature thelarche in Kabuki make-up syndrome.

Japanese girls grow up too fast because they don’t get enough sleep

Japanese kids grow faster, then stop growing faster

dorpus says:

Re: Its not the technology, its the food

Hmmm, you would need a little more scientific evidence for this. If you do your historical research, you’ll discover that the food we eat today tends to use healthier ingredients than those of previous generations; hardly anyone cooks with lard anymore, for example. Fresh fruits and vegetables were once a rare treat for most people who lived in cities. Nutrition guidelines once called for people to eat huge servings of starch, and said that fat kids are “healthy”. Back in the mid-20th century, people who we would call “ideal weight” today were considered “under-nourished”. Back in the 1970s, fast food chains did experiment with serving healthier burgers made out of soy patties, but consumers rejected “fake” burgers. Plenty of research is being done to make low-fat foods more palatable. The fact remains that fresh fruits and vegetables tend to rot quickly in your refrigerator, while grain can be stored for long periods and meat can be frozen. There are irradiation technologies to allow fruits and vegetables to last longer, but the public has an irrational fear of “radioactive” foods.

The ignorant rabble, full of their conspiracy theories and ignorance, may really be the biggest problem.

Anti Dorpus says:

Re: Re: Its not the technology, its the food

You are the ignorrant rabble, Dorkus.

You only assume that our foods are better today than before.

Today we eat non-organic chemical farmed franken foods.

I will take a bowl of good old fashioned organic lard any day over a bowl of six legged chicken gumbo.

dorpus says:

Re: Re: Re: Its not the technology, its the food

How do you know that your “organic” food is really organic? How much enforcement takes place? Do the police keep 24-hour surveillance of organic farms?

Without pesticides, would you rather have insects crawling out of your food more often? How about tapeworms, pinworms?

There remains a lack of conclusive evidence that pesticides, in the doses present on retail foods, has any harmful effect upon humans. Maybe you are the victim of an “organic food” industry that sells the same pesticide-laden products at double price, playing on the fears of consumers.

There is conclusive evidence that plants naturally contain toxic chemicals, such as erucic acid or saponins, that can stunt human growth or cause cancer. Modern varieties of crops are engineered to contain fewer natural toxic chemicals. But don’t tell that to consumers, they don’t want to hear it.

Anonymous Coward says:

New research

…out of Ethiopia uncovers a trend where kids who fail to eat remain slim. The researchers speculate that the weight ratio of a child might directly correspond to the rate at which the child consumes food. The findings are being disputed by junk food manufacturers, doctors who treat complications of obesity, and incompetent parents, which is pretty much the rest of the world.

dorpus says:

Re: New research

Only problem is, starving children are becoming increasingly rare throughout the world. Developing nations are undergoing exponential growth in obesity. There aren’t too many places on Earth anymore that can’t be reached by modern transportation within a few hours.

Charity groups of the 20th century once enjoyed the easy task of feeding people, but in the 21st century they will have the more difficult task of getting refugees to change their values, taking education more seriously, respecting women’s rights, respect the environment, etc.

bob says:

No Subject Given

I’m not too sure of the facts here, but I have heard that in New Jersey schools, gym only happens once every two weeks. At least, a Gym class that requires physical movement. Things like sex ed are now being taught during “gym” class. I forget all the other crap that they lumped in it, but the result is 1 class every 2 weeks they get actual excercise. That has GOT to contribute…

Rick (user link) says:

Re: No Subject Given

I’m convinced that you can write a report that answers any question you want. I have recently read stories that say eating chocolate and drinking two alcoholic beverages a day is good for you. Seriously, though, more kids today are getting fatter faster than 20 years ago. I don’t need research to tell me that, I can see it on the school playgrounds that I pass on my way to work in the morning. When I was a kid we had, like three or four “fat” kids in our school. Now they’re everywhere. How do you explain it?
1. Budget cuts in schools have eliminated PE programs.
2. There’s 500 channels to choose from on TV, there’s DVDs, Internet, and hyper-realistic computer games. With all of that “good stuff” why go outside anymore?
3. Then add to that the supersized meals with half-gallon cola drink sizes and junk food with hydrogenated vegitable oils and it’s easy to see why we’ve got all these little “pot-bellied” kids running around today.

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