Launching New Childhood Obesity Prevention Program
This is really just too much. I thought Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta (CHOA) and Strong4Life (S4L) were doing enough damage with their campaign to end childhood obesity in Georgia, and then I come across The Health Institute for Preventive Care, Access, Research and Education (HIPCARE), an Atlanta-based, nonprofit organization committed to improving health outcomes. On Monday, HIPCARE kicked off a new program aimed at reversing the childhood obesity epidemic in Georgia.
The new program, called Prevent and Reverse Obesity and Other-diseases via Families or PROOF, will enlist a coalition of organizations, businesses and citizens to advocate for public policies to reverse the spread of the obesity epidemic and its related diseases, such as diabetes and heart disease.
Hyperbole, much? For one thing, there is no epidemic. An epidemic, according to the CDC, is “The occurrence of more cases of disease than expected in a given area or among a specific group of people over a particular period of time.” An example would be the sudden, severe outbreak of a disease such as SARS. But obesity is not a disease.
For another, those “related diseases”? Correlation is not causation, and most of those diseases are also diseases of an aging population.
“The state of Georgia has the second highest rate of childhood obesity in the nation, and African-American and Hispanic children are at highest risk of being overweight or obese. Childhood obesity is a major public health problem that requires a public policy remedy, not unlike child safety seat belts laws of years ago that were enacted to protect children,” said Dr. Debbie Wallace, Fellow, Satcher Health Leadership Institute, Morehouse School of Medicine, and Director of HIPCARE. “We need everyone to work together to address this threat to our children.”
Dr Wallace, I hate to inform you, but the biggest threat to our children isn’t the fact that some of them are fat. The biggest threat to them is that people like you think being fat is a threat to their health and the only solution is to shame/blame/bully fat kids into becoming thin. That isn’t protecting children like child safety seats and seat belt laws do, it’s causing damage to children that lasts well into adulthood.
HIPCARE will partner with local businesses, farmers, schools, neighborhood associations, nonprofit organizations and the faith-based community to determine existing resources and evidence-based solutions that can be implemented in the local communities, such as increasing the availability of affordable fresh fruits and vegetables and safe places to be physically active. The coalition will lay the foundation for addressing state and local policies that can have long-term, positive effect on the prevention of childhood obesity among the region’s most vulnerable populations.
I can agree wholeheartedly with increasing the availability of affordable fresh fruits and vegetables, as well as creating safe places to be physically active. Those are worthy goals for all kids and adults, and can lead to health improvements for everyone who wants to partake of those opportunities. But tying those improvements to the prevention of childhood obesity dooms your efforts to failure, since it is completely possible to eat healthily in moderation, exercise joyfully daily, and still not be/get thin. Health can be improved upon without losing weight, but when you make losing weight the focus of the program, and kids fail to lose weight, they may become disappointed with the results of their efforts and give up the good habits. Then what have you accomplished?
“Childhood is a critical period for developing a predisposition to lifelong obesity,” said Sharon Dalton, vice president of the Aetna Foundation and director of its regional grant making.
“Data shows that upwards of three-quarters of obese children become obese adults. Obesity’s impact on overall health can be devastating. We are pleased to support HIPCARE’s effort to engage a broad section of Atlanta’s community to address this difficult health issue,” she said.
“Obesity’s impact on overall health can be devastating.” Ms Dalton, I don’t know what world you’re living in, but I’ll tell you what has a devastating impact on fat kids’ and adults’ health: doctors who look at fat kids and adults and refuse to look past our fat for the real cause of our problems; doctors who continually call us liars when we say we exercise and eat healthful meals in moderation; doctors who tell us that if we just ate less and exercised more, we could be thin and that all our problems would be solved; doctors who refuse to treat us as human beings. That’s what makes being fat such a difficult health issue, and it’s not a difficult health issue for the community, it’s a difficult health issue for the fat child or adult!
At the March 18 health expo, attendees can receive complete health and fitness assessments, including blood pressure testing, diabetes and cholesterol screenings, and tests for cardiovascular, strength, endurance and feasibility. At the end, participants will be given a personalized, written assessment and counseling by a physician or health care professional, along with referrals as appropriate. Participants with a high body mass index will be invited to enroll in HIPCARE’s weight-management program and join its ongoing support groups, cooking classes and exercise activities.
So it doesn’t matter if a person has normal numbers in all of those screenings, if their BMI is higher than what HIPCARE thinks it should be, they’ll be invited to enroll in a weight-management program, support groups, cooking classes, and exercise activities. This is just another program that conflates weight and health, and thinks that fat people are too stupid to know how to cook healthy meals or to know that exercise is fun and good for them (and heaven forbid that we should be able to figure this out without a support group of other fat people who are led by doctors/therapists who know more than us stupid fatty fat fat mcfattersons).
The really sad thing in all of this? It’s funded by a grant from The Aetna Foundation, the independent charitable and philanthropic arm of Aetna Inc. An insurance company giving a grant to HIPCARE to increase the availability of affordable fresh fruits and vegetables, and create safe places to be physically active: that’s great. But why do I think that they had to have strings attached and one of those strings was reversing childhood obesity, and another was those weight-management classes and support groups and cooking classes and exercise activities for anyone with a high BMI no matter what their health was otherwise? No, I’m not cynical, I’m just a realist in a world that hates fat people and wants to get rid of us (for our health, of course [/sarcasm]).