Stunning News

Item: School childhood obesity programs are failing, experts say

“Any person looking at the published literature about these programs would have to conclude that they are generally not working,” said Tom Baranowski, a pediatrics professor at Houston’s Baylor College of Medicine. He studies behavioral nutrition.

Update: Go read Meowser’s post at Fat Fu about a bit of absurdity on the second page of that article. I skimmed — oops.

Item: Dieting makes you fatter. (Please also read Jess’s guest post at The Rotund for an excellent critique of this article — but the study it talks about is interesting.)

What to make of all this? Mann’s analysis casts serious doubt on the value of dieting for weight control. In my pediatric practice, I’ve become increasingly reluctant to push dieting on children, even very heavy ones. Though it’s contrary to my own years-long cultivation of sloth, I am coming to believe ever more strongly in the value of pleasurable exercise for weight control and for independent health benefits, as demonstrated in innumerable medical studies.

Item: Sporty Spice was so “sporty” in the Spice Girls’ heyday, she stopped menstruating and lost bone density.

She added: “I went to the gym and trained constantly. I wasn’t eating properly. I wanted to get as perfect as I could, knowing perfection is impossible, and that got me very sick.”

Item: The same people who brought you Kit Kats and Quik also bring you I.V. food and diet products.

Nestle was required to divest nutrition units in France and Spain to comply with antitrust demands by the European Commission, which was worried about the company’s new dominance of the market for liquid food for intravenous feeding. The deal, which gives the Swiss company control of brands such as the Boost and Resource nutritional supplements and Optifast dieting products, has 2,000 Novartis employees joining Nestle.

Item: Obesity link to high blood pressure has weakened

“If confirmed, a decreasing association between BMI and blood pressure over time could imply that the impact of the overweight epidemic on cardiovascular disease might be less important than predicted,” the investigators conclude.

“This decreased relationship could also help to explain the current favorable trends in cardiovascular disease (declining incidence) observed in many countries despite the increasing prevalence of obesity,” they point out.

Item: Breastfeeding will not make your kids grow up thin — but once again, a lack of evidence is no reason not to keep saying it’s true.

In the same journal (July issue of International Journal of Obesity), a separate pediatric review article reinforces the lack of a cause and effect relationship, stating, “Current evidence seems insufficient to demonstrate undoubtedly that programming of obesity occurs during infancy in humans or to support recommendations for obesity prevention starting in infancy. However, as breastfeeding has demonstrated benefits other than obesity prevention, breastfeeding promotion has been recommended as part of the strategy to prevent obesity, despite the lack of experimental evidence.”

Emphasis mine.

I’d share more, but I have to get my fat ass to yoga, and I assume you’re all in a dead faint from this much shocking, unthinkable news anyway.

26 thoughts on “Stunning News

  1. More headdesk pain from that Kansas City Star article. It talks about how all these childhood obesity initiatives don’t work for paragraphs, and then we get this from a doctor:

    “If the mother is eating Cheetos and white bread, the fetus will be born with those taste buds. If the mother is eating carrots and oatmeal, the child will be born with those taste buds,” said Robert Trevino of the Social and Health Research Center in San Antonio.

    WIth NO numbers to back that assertion up. Because there aren’t any. Yeah, every child likes and dislikes to eat the exact same things their mothers like and dislike to eat. You betcha. (My mom loves raw onions and green peppers; I have never wanted to touch either one with a ten-foot fork.)

    So we know exactly what all this “what-about-the-fat-children?” stuff really is. It’s a way to punish uppity women for thinking they have the right to eat what they want and have a life that doesn’t involve slaving over a hot stove all day and sitting at the table with her kids for six hours and not letting them go to bed until they eat their kohlrabi. GAAAAAHHH.

  2. In regard to breastfeeding, this is interesting. I just logically assumed it was because baby ate until full on the breast and wasn’t forced an entire bottle of formula until empty.

  3. Oh, Jesus, Meowser. I was working really fast this morning and didn’t even notice that article had a second page. (Brilliant, I know.) Good catch, and even better analysis of the point.

    Heidi, that sounds logical to me, too, and it might very well be true. Breastfeeding is still associated with thinner little kids (for whatever that’s worth), just not with thinner adults.

    What really burns me is, why the hell can’t they just say, “There’s no evidence that it prevents obesity, but it’s still good for all these reasons…” To say, “There’s no evidence that it prevents obesity, but we still recommend it to prevent obesity…” I mean, SERIOUSLY, WTF?

  4. If the mother is eating Cheetos and white bread, the fetus will be born with those taste buds.

    Wait, that doesn’t even… Don’t taste buds work like… Oh, fuck it, I can’t be coherent about that one.

    Though I will say I’m pretty sure there is not a Cheetos-receptor taste bud.

  5. Though I will say I’m pretty sure there is not a Cheetos-receptor taste bud.

    No, Laura, the Cheetos receptor is actually located in the brain. Duh. If you’re going to comment around here, at least be scientifical.

    My mother spent half her life trying to get me to eat tomatoes, olives, and any number of other things I still pick off my salads. She would have been completely stoked if her eating choices while pregnant had actually affected my tastes.

  6. Grr!

    1. As you say – breastfeeding has a host of benefits for kids, why not just encourage it under those auspices? Do we really have to wave the Dark And Scary Spectre of Obesity at mothers to try to convince them to breastfeed? *

    2. Children, by dint of being, y’know, PEOPLE and all, tend to have their own opinions about what they will and will not eat, regardless of what their parents eat. We’ve all done it, we’ve all seen kids do it. So who the hell are these moronic “researchers” who really think that kids just docilely eat whatever they’re told to eat? Do they not remember ever being children themselves??
    It seriously makes me wonder sometimes if these people live in the same world I live in.

    * Which, btw, just sets me off in a whole other rant-y direction, because while I think we could do a helluva lot more to encourage breastfeeding in this country, because I do think it’s important, last time I looked bludgeoning women over the head about what “awful” mothers they are if they don’t toe this or that motherhood line isn’t generally seen as very “encouraging.” Call me crazy, but it’s just how I see ‘em.

  7. Yeah, my mother breastfed me, and I was a thin kid who turned into a fat adult. I don’t know what that means – maybe my mother should have breastfed me until after I was thirteen and started fattening up? Anyway, I thought breastfeeding was good because it makes kids smarter and gives them better immune responses. Did I make that up?

    As far as the taste buds thing, my mom’s favorite dish is liver and onions, followed closely by lima beans. Put them all on a plate together and she’s a happy lady. To which I say, blergh! Also, I’m pretty sure my mother didn’t eat cheetos when she was pregnant with me, but hell I loves me some cheetos now!

  8. Good lord, are they kidding us with that? (the tastebuds remark). Not only is there no statistical basis for that, there’s no scientific basis for it. There is absolutely no reason tastebuds would be affected by what the mother is eating while pregnant. There’s a reason fatty and sugary foods taste good to a lot of people, and it’s not because of what the mother eats, it’s because throughout human history food has been a scarcity, so it’s been evolutionarily advantageous to eat high calorie foods when they could be found. That’s also the reason it’s so much easier to put weight on than to take it off, because our bodies are meant to store energy when food is abundant for use when food is scarce. And I’m really worried this whole movement to push women to eat “carrots and oatmeal” while pregnant instead of listening to what their bodies are telling them to eat is going to cause an “epidemic” (to use the anti-fat movements words) of malnourished babies being born.

  9. I have to chime in on matching mother-and-child tastebuds, because it’s crap. I have a three-year-old who consumed, in utero, a whole lotta chicken McNuggets, cheeseburgers, and ice cream. For whatever reasons, I had no trouble keeping down greasy food, but things I had loved previous to pregnancy like spinach, cranberry juice, and eggs, wouldn’t stay where I put them (namely, in my belly.).

    Three and a half years later, I have a child who won’t touch a McNugget if you pay her and will happily chow down on carrots and broccoli all day.

    If you don’t start shoving junk food down their throats as soon as they have teeth (under the ridiculous guise of “That’s all kids will eat!”), children will try anything you put in front of them. If you put no value judgments on food, kids will eat it all if they’re hungry, and eat none if they’re not. If mealtimes are times for conversations and fun as well as enjoyment of food, kids will happily sit at the table basking in the love of their families.

  10. Yeah, they’ll try anything when they’re younger, and I’m all for exposing toddlers to a much wider variety of foods, as wide a variety as finances allow. But what they actually wind up liking the taste and texture and smell of is highly individual. Some kids are very, very picky.

  11. Okay, so first of all, babies don’t even eat with their mouths in utero. Taste buds, my ass.

    Second of all, I’d love to know how they explain why kids will eat some foods if they’re presented as Spiderman foods or Spongebob Squarepants foods, but not otherwise. What did my cousin’s mother eat during her pregnancy to make him refuse to eat yogurt unless we called it Ninja Turtle yogurt? Because it certainly couldn’t have anything to do with kids’ minds developing ex utero.

    Third, good god, pregnant women should eat whatever they goddamn want as long as it’s not going to harm them or the baby. Oh wait… I guess birthing a kid with a taste for Cheetos is harming them, right?

    Fourth, I don’t even know what to say about how fucking medieval that “children will like whatever their mothers eat in the womb” claim is. I mean literally medieval.

  12. LOL, Jess. A variation on the Spiderman foods riff from my own life: Up until I was 10, I liked “Chinese” mushrooms but refused to eat “American” mushrooms, until one day my mom lied and told me the mushrooms I was eating were “Chinese,” and after I ate them and said I liked them, confessed that they were “American.” After that, I liked all mushrooms just fine. Go fig.

  13. Fourth, I don’t even know what to say about how fucking medieval that “children will like whatever their mothers eat in the womb” claim is. I mean literally medieval.

    I was thinking that, too. Does this moron also believe that if a pregnant woman sees someone who’s limping, her baby will be born with one leg shorter than the other?

  14. Jess, yours was funnier. :) Cloven hooves – I can just picture the obstetrician. “Uh, Mrs. Johnson, did you visit any farms lately?”

  15. From the “dieting makes you fatter” article that seems quite intelligent otherwise comes this confusing sentence:

    “Perhaps we need to devise new kinds of calorie-limiting diets that don’t make people feel deprived, because the hard fact is that they should never stop dieting.”

    Dieting makes us fatter, but we should never stop dieting.

    My head hurts.

  16. I tried. Really. I ate all kinds of spicy foods when my kid was in utero and she won’t touch something if it even smells like it has spice in it.

    I have always had eating issues and am still dealing with disordered eating. But I have to say I am thrilled to see my kid eat when she’s hungry, stop when she’s not, and eat what she wants to eat without guilt. Yeah, sometimes she wants broccoli and popcorn for dinner, but most of the time she’s eating more balanced than I am. I breastfed her – not in hopes that she would be skinny but because it was something I believed in and enjoyed doing.

    And Sporty not menstruating? So not surprised.

  17. Does this moron also believe that if a pregnant woman sees someone who’s limping, her baby will be born with one leg shorter than the other?

    Well, Oprah’s favorite book at the moment tells its readers that looking at fat people will make them fat. So it’s only logical.

  18. “However, as breastfeeding has demonstrated benefits other than obesity prevention, breastfeeding promotion has been recommended as part of the strategy to prevent obesity, despite the lack of experimental evidence.”

    So, this quote says breastfeeding will do good things for your children regardless of obesity, so keep breastfeeding children and it might prevent obesity. Isn’t it enough that breastfeeding dramatically strengthenes a child’s immune system, brain development, and early growth? Why do they feel the need to claim it prevents obesity. Incidentally, I was breastfed until I was 28 months and the only time I missed shool in elementary was when I got chicken pox which I got over in three days ; oh yeah, and I’m fat. My sister was breastfed for only six weeks and while thin, got every infection that came down the elementary school pipeline. Now, she’s not thin because she wasn’t breastfed, but I do have a stronger immune system because I was. How can any mother not think that’s a good enough reason to breastfeed?

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  20. There is *plenty* of evidence that breastfeeding has a preventative effect against obesity in later life -
    see here and here and here and oh, here as well.

    You take one article – which contradicts the majority of studies – and come to the conclusion that breastfeeding doesn’t protect against obesity? Seems to me you’re cherry-picking “evidence”.

    Oh, and this “Okay, so first of all, babies don’t even eat with their mouths in utero. Taste buds, my ass.”

    Actually, much as the researcher was clearly talking through their arse with the cheetos and white bread thing, foetuses do swallow amniotic fluid in utero, so they do “eat with their mouths” (or more accurately they “drink with their mouths”, what pregnant women eat *does* affect the taste of the amniotic fluid, and it does actually affect what babies like to eat later. See here for details. Ditto breastmilk – flavours change (and babies apparently like garlic).

  21. Rebekka, my point in quoting that article was to point out the contradiction in terms: “Breastfeeding doesn’t prevent obesity, but we recommend it as a strategy for preventing obesity.”

    I’m a fan of breastfeeding. I’ve said so on this thread. You don’t have to prove it prevents obesity to prove it’s worth doing. And I don’t really give a rat’s ass if it prevents obesity, since I don’t believe obesity is a terrible thing. What I care about is when people say flat out, “We have no evidence, but we’re going to keep saying it’s true.” That happens WAY too much with obesity research.

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