F as in fat

One third of U.S. children are overweight or obese, according to a new report titled F as in Fat 2011.  The childhood pudge percentage has nearly tripled in the past 10 years.

Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee, Texas, and West Virginia had childhood obesity rates above 20 percent; Illinois was the only non-Southern state above 20 percent (along with the District of Columbia). In 2003, when the last NSCH was conducted, only D.C., Kentucky, Tennessee, and West Virginia were above 20 percent.

Nationwide, the report found that less than one-third of all children ages 6-17 engaged in at least 20 minutes of vigorous physical activity on a day-to-day basis.

Very obese children should be placed with foster families till they slim down, argue Harvard researchers in the Journal of the American Medical Association. 

Bad idea, responds bioethicist Art Caplan. After all, 12 percent of U.S. kids are extremely obese.

Ludicrous,” responds Megan McArdle in The Atlantic.

. . . the foster system is already overstretched without adding obesity to catalogue of child abuse and neglect.  It’s also kind of creepy–the sort of thing that gives paternalism a very, very bad name.

Racist, adds Instapundit. African-American children are more likely to be obese.

Adults are getting fatter too.

And it’s not just Americans. As part of a British campaign against obesity, new health guidlines call for children under the age of five — including infants — to exercise daily for at least three hours.

About Joanne


  1. When I was growing up, even the heavy kids tended to be fairly active. Now I go to the playground with my kids and I see all these obese children just sitting around and chatting (typically while eating or drinking something junky). It’s very sad 🙁

  2. Gee, I wonder if there’s some sort of connection between childhood obesity and the propensity for school districts (particularly the suburban ones) to provide curb service for their charges. Why can’t these kids walk three or four blocks (or even a quarter-mile, at least? Hardly a draconian request, really) to catch the bus, if they absolutely must ride? Most of these places have sidewalks, anyhow, so it’s not an issue of “dangerous” walking routes. It borders on the ridiculous.

  3. When my older kids – now in their mid-30s – were in public schools in suburban DC, buses were used for distances of/over (?) a half mile for ES and a mile for JHS and HS (or possibly 3/4 mile for JHS?) . We had no problem with that and I only drove them in really bad weather. I’d drive them to school if they would be really wet on arrival (and they had appropriate rain gear) but didn’t mind them getting wet on the way home, so I only collected them in a cold downpour or a thunderstorm. They did just fine. Many parents did do regular carpools, however.

    However, it has long been my observation that more school PE – often touted as a remedy – is nothing of the kind. The kids who need exercise the most are the least likely to exert themselves (including at PE – creative excuses and general non-compliance date back to my childhood) and the thin kids are already likely to get plenty of exercise. My kids had so much exercise – both outdoor play and elite sports – that they really needed a study hall by the time they were in MS.

    Take away the TV, the game console and the computer and get rid of junk food at home.

  4. Will fat kids REALLY do better in foster care? I’ve heard some real foster-care horror stories and while there are many wonderful foster parents out there, still…I suspect this, if it passes, will eventually morph into “The government must house and care for these children” and there wind up being the equivalent of juvie for fat kids.

    (And how many mean parents are going to belittle their chunky son or daughter with “Stop eating, or I’ll call the fat police on you.” Ugh. I hope we don’t see an epidemic of eating disorders as a result.)

    (Also, I hope that “three hours of exercise” recommendation means the typical running-around-and-playing, and NOT strapping Junior to a Stairmaster for three hours a day.)

  5. Michael E. Lopez says:

    Walking to school (or bicycling) really would be the answer, I think. I don’t know about everyone else, but I was walking to school in 3rd grade — a little more than half a mile. My biggest commute was Fifth/Sixth grade, when the bicycle ride was around 2.5 miles each way. (Actually, there was a period where I was bicycling around 8 miles each way in 9th grade, but that wasn’t a sustainable situation given my schedule and only lasted a few months.)

    No, it wasn’t uphill both ways.

    And I mostly went to school in Southern California, so weather obviously was good. That matters, too. But still…

  6. Roger Sweeny says:

    This is just a half-measure. The real solution: reversible sterilization at age ten. Reversed only when the state’s Division of Children and Families says you’re qualified to have a child.

  7. I was just thinking this morning about how the teen fashion store at the mall growing up was called “5-7-9” as in the juniors’ sizes. Those were what a “normal” sized teen wore, but with today’s vanity sizing, they’re the equivalent of a modern 1-3-5. Hardly any of the teens I see walking around today would fit in even the largest of those sizes 🙁

  8. Consider that parenting has changed, too.

    My parents let my siblings and I run around all day, unsupervised. We lived in a middle-class neighborhood. We rode bikes, visited the neighbor’s kids, ran in lots, played tag.

    These days everything is scheduled, supervised, and/or hand-held and viewed on a screen.