In Obesity Wars, A New Backlash
A Western town pushed school kids to eat right and exercise more. Did it go too far? ‘Mr. Coca, do you think I’m fat?’

Anne Marie Chaker:

Brittany Burns, 12 years old, has always been on the heavy side. Last year in fifth grade, neighborhood kids started picking on her at the bus stop, calling her “fatty” and “chubby wubby.” Then someone else piled on: Brittany’s school.
In a letter dated Oct. 2, 2006, the Campbell County School District No. 1 invited “select students” to take part in a fitness and nutrition program set up for some of the district’s most overweight kids. At 5 feet 2 inches tall and 179 pounds, Brittany qualified.
Receiving the letter was “embarrassing,” Brittany says. Her mother, Mindi Story, a clerk at an Albertsons supermarket, says she seethed “pure anger” because, she argues, her daughter’s weight shouldn’t be the school’s concern: “I send her to school to learn math and reading.”
Spurred by a local doctor and an enthusiastic school board, Gillette has banned soda and second helpings on hot meals. This year, it included students’ body-mass index — a number that measures weight adjusted for height — on report cards, and started recommending students like Brittany for after-school fitness programs. It even offers teachers the chance to earn bonuses based on their fitness.

3 thoughts on “In Obesity Wars, A New Backlash
A Western town pushed school kids to eat right and exercise more. Did it go too far? ‘Mr. Coca, do you think I’m fat?’”

  1. I’m not fat so let the nanny state make law against McDonalds and BIG FAT
    I drive a small car so let the nanny state make law against BIG OIL
    I don’t smoke so let them make law against BIG TOBACCO
    I don’t drink or own a gun so let them make law against that too…
    Yea, that kid is fat so I think the state should do something about it. Better yet, go after the parents and insinuate it’s a form of child abuse. Let’s get social services involved too. Any of you nanny-statists out there with kids with an improper body mass index better look out. Yer next. He he.
    So now we have this article about overweight kids being identified and “conditioned” by the public schools. There was a time when articles like this bothered me but now I like them. I like them because hopefully the fuzzy headed progressives out there (and I use that phrase affectionately), after seeing enough of this, may actually come to realize we have ceded too much to the nanny.
    No more dodge ball, tag, slides, teeter-totters, a recent story about only tossing tennis balls at recess because softballs were too hard, etc….
    As to the overweight kid getting a note from the school?
    “For you must remember that in those days of gross viviparous reproduction, children were always brought up by their parents and not in State Conditioning Centres.” – Chapter 2, Brave New World.
    We had better turn this around folks.

  2. “Problems cannot be solved by the same level of thinking that created them.” ~ Albert Einstein.
    When a child is obese the parents, themselves often obese, may not recognize there is a problem. I congratulate the school districts willing to include BMI, in report cards or letters home, AS LONG AS they give resources or have a support system for the overweight children & families to improve the child’s habits.
    Pointing out a problem seems to just blame and is just not effective. If a child’s BMI is brought up SOLUTIONS must be included.
    Yes, for those who may not realize this is a problem, that it is OK their child is obese, it’s a problem:
    “For children aged 2–5 years, the prevalence of overweight increased from 5.0% to 13.9%; for those aged 6–11 years, prevalence increased from 6.5% to 18.8%; and for those aged 12–19 years, prevalence increased from 5.0% to 17.4%.
    These increasing rates raise concern because of their implications for Americans’ health. Being overweight or obese increases the risk of many diseases and health conditions, including the following:
    * Hypertension
    * Coronary heart disease
    * Stroke
    * Dyslipidemia (for example, high total
    cholesterol or high levels of triglycerides)
    * Type 2 diabetes
    * Gallbladder disease
    * Osteoarthritis
    * Sleep apnea and respiratory problems
    * Some cancers(endometrial, breast,and colon)”
    Some people may that feel the school is over-stepping their duties. My school district’s mission: “to educate every student to become a life-long learner; to foster academic, social, emotional and physical development; to nurture an understanding and a respect for all people in a multi-cultural and multi-ethnic world; and to promote responsible citizenship in a democracy.” from:
    If a parent is embarrassed by receiving this BMI information they will get over it, but if a child is allowed to grow up with this problem without someone showing them enough care, respect and love then that child has not had a good education. Those bad habits of eating too many calories and otherwise continuing to make poor food choices and lack of physical activity will most likely continue. When this obese child who has been taught that it is OK to be obese, eating the right foods doesn’t matter and physical activity doesn’t matter, when this child becomes a parent, what will he/she teach their children? They won’t know a better way. The cycle continues. The child is clearly harming themselves. Is it wrong for the teachers & administration to wish to correct this pattern?
    If it takes parents making a fuss because they are not happy with the fact they have an overweight kid, so be it. Maybe with that school’s support system and the parent will acknowledge the problem and there will be some positive actions taken.
    Together with the participants in Greenstar Cooperative Market’s Outreach program and the Whole Community Project (including the Cornell Cooperative Extension) I am working to make foods served in schools healthier. Let’s stop serving them from the same Commodity foods/School lunch program from 1946 to feed UNDER-nourished children. We can do better. Our kids & communities are worth it.

  3. While I completely agree with Reid’s assertion of the governments’ (and other institutions) overstepping their bounds, I have another reason to oppose schools’ involvement in such issues.
    Not only is it none of their business, but such social engineering is not their core job, not their core expertise. Schools are having a significant problem focusing on their core acitivities as it is, and doing very poorly for many kids.
    School meals served in the school should be healthier and this is within the purview of the schools and district, as well as offering classes and time and opportunity for necessary physical activity.
    But these reponsibilities aside, it is education, not indoctrination, that is the schools’ purpose. As much as I might agree with some positions that MMSD might take regarding social issues, such positions must be outside a schools’ control and demanding influence.
    The government dictates that children attend school. If schooling (public schooling in particular) was voluntary, and there was sufficent choice for kids and parents to attend any school that would serve their personal preferences, I might find some non-core influence acceptable, but otherwise not.
    Social engineering within the school, which is tangential to core activities, but critical to the delivery of a good education and equal opportunity all kids, is within the proper influence of the schools. Otherwise, I find such interference (regardless of my own personal agreement which such social issues) to be improper.

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