Film at eleven

So I know it’s just a cut-and-paste error, but I thought this little item from the local commuter paper did a good job of illustrating the overinflated importance of Obesity News:

CHICAGO
More than 100 Vehicles Involved in Highway Crash
Here’s another reason to get the kids to bed early: More sleep may lower their risk of becoming obese. Researchers have found that every additional hour per night a third-grader spends sleeping reduces the child’s chances of being obese in sixth grade by 40 percent. The study appears in the November issue of the journal Pediatrics.

Let’s leave aside my standard rant about how I apparently give more of a shit about kids than their parents do, or at least more of a shit than the media thinks their parents do, given that I think well-rested, unstressed kids are a good thing REGARDLESS of whether it keeps them from being fat. Why do we apparently have to be convinced, even bribed to think that it’s valuable for children to be well-rested, active, well-fed, and happy? But that’s not the point today. The point is, is this a sublime juxtaposition or what? This appeared next to a picture of the crash, on the same page as catastrophic news from around the country. But it didn’t occur to anybody that the text was out of place.

41 thoughts on “Film at eleven

  1. Can we say whoever was supposed to be proof-reading this was asleep on the job? I’ve noticed that more and more in newspapers, and even online, journalists write articles, send them in or post them, and never look at their spelling or grammar. Neither do the ones who are supposed to be checking those things before publication.
    Granted, we all make mistakes, but in journalism, that’s why there are proof-readers, to find and correct those mistakes without changing the context of the article. This drives me absolutely nuts when I see it, and I’m not a writer (but I do read a LOT and appreciate a well-written story/article [one of the many reasons I read SP]).

  2. vesta, you’ve got a point there. I’ve noticed the same thing (just didn’t think of it when I read filly’s post). It’s gotten to the point where I’ve started to wonder: do they even HAVE copy editors anymore? Proof-readers? SPELL CHECK, for god’s sake?!

    I was on the staff of the school paper in high school, and I have seen stories that I would have been ashamed to turn in even then!

  3. Let’s just read this one more time: “every additional hour per night a third-grader spends sleeping reduces the child’s chances of being obese in sixth grade by 40 percent.”

    So an extra 2.5 hours of sleep per night between 3rd and 6th grade is going to CURE childhood obesity! Right? Because 2.5 x 40 = 100%.

    Let us rejoice.

  4. I’ve got some sympathy for people who have to put out a daily paper. Some things are going to slip by, and it’s okay… they’re on a strict deadline and it’s tough. But this one, I didn’t even notice the mistake when I first read the item (I skipped the headline). “Lack of sleep causes obesity” on the same page as all the other disastrous national news, right next to a big picture of a car pileup? Same old, same old.

  5. GOOD POINT, J. They sure do throw around “cure” and “eliminate” a lot these days when they mean “possibly curtail.” Lack of editing is one thing; playing fast and loose with semantics is quite another.

  6. It’s interesting they managed to miss this one. Well, I’m in the market for a job! And I don’t miss much.

    But what I found interesting about the article I found online is that at the very very end it says:

    “I don’t want parents to think, ’If I get her to sleep, she’s not going to be overweight,”’ Mindell said. “I think this is a small piece in the picture.”

    ..yet the article sure implies otherwise…

  7. Actually, the “CURE” was my own (tongue- in-cheek)interpretation of their statistic that an extra hour of sleep reduces the kid’s chances of the obesity by 40%. Like, no matter how many hours of sleep the kid already gets, no matter what their genetic predisposition, no matter what they eat or how they exercise, just knock them out for another hour every night and your child will be 40% less likely to be obese. But this applies to only 3rd graders and their chance of being obese in 6th grade. It’s almost like someone made up the most ridiculous thing they could think of and pasted it under the wrong headline to boot!

  8. Ah Ha! So that must be why my parents always had a hard time getting my sorry ass out of bed in the morning. My body was trying to stay all thin and shit. It couldn’t possibly have been because my internal clock was stuck on second shift as well as the intermittent bouts of insomnia! Or because I had already started puberty! (gallon of cow’s milk a day anyone?) Nah! It must have been because somehow my body just kinda Knew this and— I’m sorry, I just got out of bed to service the needs of my furry masters and my brain was not quite working yet. Humor, yes. Brain, no. Pardon me while I fall down laughing.

  9. You know, here I was thinking that if they did find the link between sleep deprivation and fat, it might get spun as “fat people aren’t so lazy after all!” Ha ha, so naive.

  10. “Every extra hour a third-grader spends sleeping”…beyond what? The recommended eight hours? Or is it just gross hours, so we can infer every kid won’t get fat if s/he gets 2.5 hours of sleep per night?

    I’m so confused. (I also slept fifteen hours a day when I could get it.)

  11. Dani, I think the idea is to get kids sleeping as close to 24 hours as possible, so they won’t have time to eat. Bonus points for a coma.

    This does admittedly clash with the push to get kids “working out,” though.

  12. I’m also confused. How in the world am I supposed to get in my son’s mandatory 90 minutes on the treadmill (because he’s 4 and at risk of overweight though he is not actually overweight…YET!!OMGPON!ES) and get him to bed by 5pm so that he can be extra protected from Teh Fat?!?

    I mean, really. It could create a terrible conflict between his forced marches and his rigorously enforced sleeping

  13. Dani, I think the idea is to get kids sleeping as close to 24 hours as possible, so they won’t have time to eat. Bonus points for a coma.

    I think you just nailed it, FJ.

  14. My mother used to bemoan the fact that it didn’t matter how early she put me to bed. I never got to sleep before midnight. Since all the “hard” subjects (like math and science) were taught during the morning hours (because that’s when children are “freshest”) I thought that I was terrible at match and science. My 73rd percentile in math on the ACTs was a real shock to me (actually so was my 99+ percentile verbal).

  15. Bonus points for a coma.

    Creepy. Even more creepy when you consider the only way to get our Sleeping-Beauty generation its schooling would be some kind of subliminal message tapes. “A Brave New World,” anyone?

  16. You know, I’m sure this is based in -some- kind of “legitimate” study, but it just comes off as silly and arbitrary. Even my father, who believes everything he reads, blinked at this and asked the “That’s vague? The hell does this mean?”

    I think I should start freelancing articles on the obesity epidemic. Like my conclusive study that proves the colors pink, yellow and off-white have been linked to obesity. Avoiding the wear or consumption of these colors will decrease your chances of being an unacceptable fattie by uhm… where are my notes… *thumbs through Lisa Frank sketchbook* Ah.. yes. 1 trillion%!

    Also, don’t look directly into blacklights or sniff roses.

    I’m being too snarky, I know, but I don’t buy anything they pen about fat-solutions.

  17. sprinklemouse, the main problem I think is that they never EVER acknowledge the correlation/causation problem. They don’t say “fat kids seemed to slept less, I wonder why,” even though the “I wonder why” should be absolutely critical to the process in a less hysterical environment. No, it’s immediately “make your kids sleep more and they won’t be fat!”

  18. Families have to start loving the kids they’ve got. There’s something wrong in a house when your mom and dad are chewing their nails with fear that you may not be a supermodel when you grow up. It’s weird and perverse. It’s like how Anna Nicole Smith was allegedly starving her newborn to make her more “sexy”. Just leave your kids be, and appreciate them not in spite of their “flaws”, but for them. Your daughter has a lazy eye? Cool. How unique. A unibrow? Your neighbor’s kid isn’t half as interesting. Oh no- they’re fat? Just more comfortable to hug.

  19. Families have to start loving the kids they’ve got.

    You said it, sprinklemouse. This probably deserves a whole angry post in and of itself, but there’s only so much I can say as a non-parent. (I have a feeling the holidays may spark one… just Thanksgiving, not xmas, as the boyfriend’s fam is actually sane).

    Shinobi, not to mention the fact that antidepressants would make you lose weight in that case.

  20. I’m a non-parent myself, but with childly aspirations for my future. My biggest fear is that I’ll still be hung up on my own issues with body and food when I do have kids, and I’ll influence my children to be just as screwed up. You can flat-out tell a kid that they’re too chubby, or warn them against being fat later in life. Or you can stare in the mirror and frown mightily at your big tummy, or cellulite, while your children look on. Same effect.

  21. Ha. I would have read the first line and thought instantly that someone’s kid didn’t get enough sleep and whined their poor parents into the back of a semi causing an accident. I’d say that’s more of a concern then them getting “OMG! FAT!”.

  22. This does admittedly clash with the push to get kids “working out,” though.

    As I watch my two year old run around in circles, I can’t help but think perhaps the researchers don’t actually know many young children, in like, person..

  23. No, it’s immediately “make your kids sleep more and they won’t be fat!”

    I just listened to a podcast of the recent Science Friday interview with Gary Taubes about “not all calories are created equal” or whatever. I thought (in between being very irritated about much of the conversation) that Taubes made a good point of emphasizing that research should be related to the “why” and not acting on the “why” prematurely. Granted his thought process went like (paraphrasing negatively) “We all know obesity is the biggest factor that causes cancer and heart disease, therefore [and here is where I can sort of get with him; see below for more] the important thing to be doing is studies that help determine why people get fat [and here's where I get off the train again] and then you reduce the incidence of those diseases.”

    The other guest did seem to be “guilty” of what Taubes was accusing him of… both refusing to completely let go of previous “accepted doctrine” (that high-carb/low-fat is the way to go–though the other guest did sound extremely knowledgeable and I give him a lot of credit for standing up to Taubes’ “But it’s obv carbs, everyone knows that and if you don’t understand that you’re stupid!” and pointing out that, um, metabolism is complicated and maybe there are other factors here) and seeming skip ahead to consider the questions in terms of “OK then, what diet should we tell people to eat so they don’t get fat?”

    Anyway, my point is I agree with Taubes to the extent that, if it were somehow found that fat really were the biggest risk factor for all these diseases–and we all know some of the flaws in these studies and their interpretation so as far as I’m concerned this is a hypothetical example and not a true one because I do NOT believe fat is that risk factor–then the operative question would be “Why do some people get fat and not others,” and if you found it might be a difference in carb intake then it would be “Why do people who eat fewer carbs tend to get less fat?” In neither case would it be time to start panicking and making nonsensical policy decisions and behavior-modification recommendations to eat less carbs so you won’t GET FAT AND DIE!!1!! even if that would actually end up later to be true and responsible advice. For the obvious reason that it is too premature to know the implications of your results well enough to make good policy decisions so early on, as well as the fact that the question of whether being fat actually causes any of these problems is a totally different and by no means conclusively answered question. But people just cannot seem to view obesity research through an objective lens that doesn’t involve grasping at a newly detected correlation and, against all logic, using it to develop behavior advice, like they (either the researchers or the journalists) are doing with the sleep study.

    I was still pretty irritated with Taubes for also refusing to consider as important that diets almost universally fail. But he is probably right about that as far as, in the initial phase of figuring out mechanisms as to why people get fat (if you agree that it is important to figure out why people get fat) it is not helpful scientifically to start skipping ahead to “OK, but how can we use this information to get people to lose weight and keep it off?” That is not the question at that stage, if it ever is, and I think that relates to the sleep study referenced here. People are mixing up research with public policy and panicking so it all gets even more confusing and unhelpful.

  24. Note, the “you’re stupid” comment is not a direct quote of Taubes’ :P but I did find his tone rather condescending in the “Everyone knows the answer to this already, moving on” vein.

  25. sprinklemouse – that’s one reason I don’t have kids. My mother’s whole attitude to how a little girl, and a teen girl, and indeed, an adult daughter, was ‘supposed’ to look in order to be lovable – and I mean weight, hair, skin, teeth, everything – was so screwed up that I can’t be sure that parenthood wouldn’t suddenly have me reverting to the way I was raised. No way to know until it’s too late. And I simply won’t risk doing that to a child.

  26. I dunno, I think you’re unlikely to visit the same shit on your kids for the simple reason that you’ve thought about it. I doubt our mothers ever spent nearly as much time sifting through the body-image bullshit as we do, or ever made a conscious decision to start liking themselves.

    Not to say, of course, that you, Emerald, should have kids. More of a general “you” there.

  27. Where as my mother was extremely direct in voicing her disappointment in how I was turning out physically, I’m not saying I would be inclined to ever do the same. I don’t have the cliche fear of “turning into my mother” when I’m married with a family of my own, because it’s her consistent “accidental” cruelty that carved me into being the opposite of her in most every way. I’m more concerned with my influencing my children to hate themselves by my own actions. I want to make sure I love myself to pieces before I procreate. I don’t want my kids to see me grimacing at my reflection, or hear me lamenting my body and play monkey see, monkey do.

  28. I want to make sure I love myself to pieces before I procreate.

    Can’t argue with that! I wish everyone would strive to be more content in every aspect of their lives before they go through the uncertainty and guesswork of parenting. Kids deserve to have parents who are, at baseline, happy.

  29. But he is probably right about that as far as, in the initial phase of figuring out mechanisms as to why people get fat (if you agree that it is important to figure out why people get fat) it is not helpful scientifically to start skipping ahead to “OK, but how can we use this information to get people to lose weight and keep it off?” That is not the question at that stage, if it ever is,

    Amen, Spacedcowgirl. I’d LOVE it if they took a genuine, intellectually honest look at the causes of fatness — even if the results ultimately bummed me out. But it’s always just, “What do fat people have in common? Okay, DON’T DO THAT OR YOU’LL GET FAT!” Just like Sprinklemouse said with the pink/yellow/off-white example (and she gets major points for the “Lisa Frank notebook” detail).

    Speaking of you, Sprinklemouse, I TOTALLY hear you on this:

    I want to make sure I love myself to pieces before I procreate. I don’t want my kids to see me grimacing at my reflection, or hear me lamenting my body and play monkey see, monkey do.

    Exactly. My mother told me I was pretty way more often than she ever said anything negative about my body — the problem was, I didn’t believe her, because by the time I hit middle school, I knew that having any body fat whatsoever made you ugly. And I knew it in large part because she — and the rest of my family members — constantly lamented their own fatness, beat themselves up for eating too much and not exercising enough, went on various fad diets, etc.

    I know my mom never, ever wanted us to hate ourselves or be hurt by fat-haters the way she had — the problem was, she thought the only solution to those problems was getting thin, not learning to love yourself as a fat person. Loving yourself as a fat person was not something any of us could grasp as an abstract concept in the house I grew up in, let alone as a practical project. If you were fat, you were not allowed to love yourself, period. It would only mean you were fooling yourself – and we may have been a bunch of fatties, but boy howdy, we were all far too clever for that.

    Even now, I worry about not being a good enough body acceptance role model for any potential kids.

  30. From someone who has and IS in the same boat as Emerald was talking about (messed up childhood):

    You DO think about that when you have kids, especially girls (lucky me, I ended up with 4!). You watch what you say to them VERY carefully. You know what your own mother/family said to you that made your own self-esteem go down the toilet, and you try like HELL not to do that to your own kids.

    I can also say from experience, though, that while you try your damnedest to make sure your KIDS don’t have the same self-esteem issues that you have, it doesn’t necessarily change your own self-image. You tend to have a “do [feel] as I say, not as I do [feel about myself]” thing going on, even if you don’t realize it.

    Basically, what I’m saying is that I always try to make sure that my girls hear things from me that will make them feel good about themselves, but on the other hand, it hasn’t stopped me from saying how fat, ugly, and worthless *I* am. Obviously, since I’ve found all of y’all, I’m trying really hard to work on that, but I can’t deny that I’ve said one thing to them and had another criteria entirely for myself.

  31. I’d LOVE it if they took a genuine, intellectually honest look at the causes of fatness — even if the results ultimately bummed me out. But it’s always just, “What do fat people have in common? Okay, DON’T DO THAT OR YOU’LL GET FAT!”

    Yes, absolutely. No matter how small or special-case or inconsequential the study is, this is what you hear.

    On the question of children, I am petrified of bringing up a fat child in our society. I have a hard time confronting or disagreeing with people, and if my future children are fat, I’m going to have to be doing that a LOT. My MIL will have to be told to back off making critical comments about their diet, their doctors will have to be told that we are not testing them for diabetes right now just because they are fat and no, I am not putting them on a diet and incidentally please never talk about diets in front of them again, and on and on. My three-year-old niece is very fat and her parents (who are just normal folks with normal fat phobias, not fat acceptance pioneers by any means) are getting besieged with these messages left and right (e.g. I’m not even sure she was two years old yet when they were told that “no food was good for her,” basically that she shouldn’t be eating. At least my BIL reamed the doctor over that one.) My niece has no chance in our society if I’m not even confident that someone with my rather unusual mindset can raise a fat kid who doesn’t hate him/herself, and I’m not sure of that at all at this point.

    I am to a point in my life where I feel I can love my children regardless of size, and keep a lid on any remaining craziness I have about my body (of which I’m sure there is a lot) because I KNOW it affects them as you all are saying. But I won’t be able to protect them from the doctors who want them on a diabetic diet or the kids and teachers who constantly tell them they’re different and ugly and have one foot in the grave or maybe, in the not-so-distant future, even the government who will take them away from me unless I get them WLS at the age of 10. It is terrifying.

  32. Hmm. I’m pretty sure I would ALWAYS have loved my kids regardless of size, I just feel more equipped to handle doing battle for them now. The idea that it would be a recent development to be able to love them for who they are is pretty grim and not what I was trying to say.

  33. scg, I gotcha. And I definitely hear you. I’m sure plenty of people would be delighted to hear that their rampant discrimination and cruelty are discouraging intelligent, thoughtful, sane fat people from having kids, too.

    The truth is, though, you have to go to bat for your kids on so many issues. I’m actually least worried about this one, if I end up having them. Can I fight about fat? Oh, you fucking bet I can. But I’ll also probably have to fight for them to have decent schooling and safe places to play and be able to read what they want to, not to mention fighting with them over any number of things. That freaks me out a little. The fat fights? Those I’m ready for.

  34. I’m sure plenty of people would be delighted to hear that their rampant discrimination and cruelty are discouraging intelligent, thoughtful, sane fat people from having kids, too.

    Ugh. You are so right.

  35. Nevermind the headline mix up (but seriously, wtf?)…I’ve been a nine-hour sleeper my whole life, and I’ve been fat my whole life too. How are they even coming up with this crap?

  36. I have so much to say about this I don’t know where to start.
    (Deep breath)
    One big huge fat vote for going out on a limb to “love yourself first” before having kids. If kid(s) come along before you’ve reached a turning point about this, it’s okay, keep working at it, but I’m so so so glad I am more than 50% self-loving (no, not in that way, not exactly) before my child came along.
    My child isn’t fat — I think child received dad’s genes on this one — but the way I’m raising this child is the same way I hope I would raise a child who received my genes in the fat department. Love, affection, equal doses of comfort and independence, fun, consideration, responsibility, love, love, ice cream, broccoli, whole wheat fusilli, playdough, love and fun. And love.
    Sleep is a bigger struggle for us than food is. And with sleep, sometimes child is tired and falls asleep and sometimes child stays awake and runs around the house and sings and jumps on the bed. I think getting enough sleep in important for all kinds of reasons that have nothing to do with fatness.
    For us, we struggle to have enough time together in the evening after work and daycare and enough time to see each other and eat broccoli and ice cream and play and get to bed in time to do it again another day. Working fewer hours would really help. So it could be that’s what we are seeing with not enough sleep, is not enough time with all of the other essential and fun things to do in the day. So we need to slow down and sleep. But I’m the only one bringing in a salary at this point, so I don’t see a way to cut back on my hours anytime soon.
    I was worried that I would project my fat neurosis on my child. My best protection against projection that is to fight it in myself.

    I think that what the media needs to be worried about when it comes to lack of sleep is inability to copy edit accurately without sufficient sleep.

    And they need to make up their minds already as several members of the proseltariat have stated… fat people are lazy. Fat people didn’t sleep enough. Which one!?! ARrarghhrh

  37. I read somewhere once (back when I was still dieting – blargh) that not getting enough sleep makes it harder to lose weight. I wasn’t critical of it at the time because actually, I think not getting enough sleep is pretty much bad for you in general anyway so it made sense. I’m guessing this blurb was talking about that and how so many kids are over-scheduled and often sleep deprived because of it.

  38. I wasn’t critical of it at the time because actually, I think not getting enough sleep is pretty much bad for you in general anyway so it made sense.

    I agree with your suspicion that not getting enough sleep is bad for you. Supposedly that’s when your body performs its healing and repair functions. Although I could be totally wrong about that. Anyway, I’m not sure if weight gain is one of the effects of lack of sleep, but I very strongly suspect that it is not good for your health to be chronically sleep-deprived. I think I have seen reports prior to this claiming that lack of sleep really does cause you to tend to gain weight… I have no idea if that is true or not, but I find it very interesting that far from freaking out and making it socially unacceptable not to sleep enough because otherwise THE OBESITY WILL DESTROY US ALL so you can’t take any chances, which seems to be society’s response to every other piece of advice based on “things fatties have in common that you should therefore avoid like the plague” (paraphrasing Kate), people have totally ignored this particular weight-related finding. I do not think this is coincidental.

    This is one of the things that drives me the most nuts about the dieting mindset (so, the mindset of pretty much everyone except FA people). People will beat themselves up endlessly if they are unable to eat perfectly and work out every single day, even if they are on a stressful business trip or just pulled an all-nighter or have to squeeze in a workout at midnight after getting the kids to bed and cleaning the house. They are really fond of repeating how there is “no excuse” good enough not to do those things. But when it is suggested that maybe they should try and cut back on hours at the office so they can be less stressed or get more sleep (both of which I personally think are roughly as important as diet and exercise to your well-being, to say nothing of endangering other drivers on the road during your commute if you drive sleep-deprived, and other off-topic stuff) they’re always like “oh, tee-hee, I’m a workaholic, I thrive on pressure,” or “I couldn’t possibly work less, I just have to” or whatever. All of a sudden there is no willingness to even make an effort to change that detrimental component of their lifestyle. And then they try to tell me that their guilt and self-flagellation over imperfect diet and exercise routine are really 100% about health when their attitudes toward work and sleep tell us loud and clear that it is actually about this weird Puritanical need to deprive yourself… of food, of time spent not running like a hamster in a wheel or sitting at a desk making yourself miserable, or of sleep or fun. Whatever it is, as long as you are miserable and feel that you’re never quite good enough, you’re doing it right. This does not always coincide with what is actually healthy for you.

    Now, I recognize that some people really do thrive on pressure and many others really do have absolutely no choice about how many hours they work or the need to work more than one job. And furthermore, people are free to conduct their lives however they want; I don’t really feel it’s anyone’s “moral obligation” to reduce stress (except possibly for the driving while sleep-deprived thing and other similar issues). I just find our society’s moralistic attitude about food and exercise on the one hand, and work and sleep on the other, really hypocritical and sneaky.

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