The World According to Nick
My take on Software, Technology, Politics, and anything else I feel like talking about.
Saturday, October 02, 2004

I'll Be Your Weight Watcher 

Who are you? My name is Bob, I'm your government sponsored weight watcher. My what? Didn't you hear? The population is far too fat, so we have to watch what you eat and how much you exercise. Don't mind me. What's that in your hand? Oh nothing... just a cattle prod... I will probably never have to use that. Ouch! That hurt! What did you order? I'll have a SKIM Vanilla Latte. Much better.

Yesterday I found this article on a recent government obesity study in children and the recommendations that came from it:

To fight the epidemic of childhood obesity, the nation must enlist virtually every aspect of society to reduce the amount of junk food children eat and get them exercising more, the National Academy of Sciences said Thursday.
-- Establishing a high-level task force to coordinate all federal childhood obesity activities.

-- Developing new nutrition standards for all foods and beverages sold in schools.

-- Making sure children get at least 30 minutes daily of moderate to vigorous physical activity.

-- Convening a national conference to draft new guidelines aimed at curbing advertising and marketing of junk food to children. Congress should empower the Federal Trade Commission to police the guidelines.

-- Updating food labels to give consumers more useful information.

The report also said that:

-- The food industry should give consumers more and better nutritional information on packaged foods and in restaurants, as well as healthier food and drink choices.

-- Doctors should routinely measure every child's body mass index (BMI).

-- State and local governments should make it easier for everyone, including children, to exercise.

-- Parents should make sure their children eat better, exercise more, watch less television and play fewer video games.

Apparently now food advertising is just as bad as tobacco or alcohol advertising. Personally I think its about time. That bastard Bill Cosby has been pedaling those damn Jell-o products for far too long. It's about time that him and his dangerous fattening dessert products were kept out of the hands of the nation's most innocent. And government making it easier to exercise... well that should be no problem. Are they going to provide every household with a treadmill? Maybe we should all get a bike to ride to work and school. That will be great here in Wisconsin when it's 0 degrees outside and snowing, especially in the Milwaukee school district where most kids go to school across town from where they live, even though there may be a school a block away. Of course parents should make sure their children eat better and exercise more. For those parents that don't do this, we'll simply charge you with child neglect, throw you in jail, and put your kids in foster homes. Bob will come by your house tomorrow to see how you're doing.

Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., said he would immediately introduce a bill to implement the report's recommendations, adding that it would go further in many areas. It would, for example, ban soda and vending machines selling unhealthy foods in schools receiving federal funds.

We'll just ignore the fact that there is no link between soda or snack foods and ill health affects... and the studies that have attempted to show one were either based on junk science, or were completely inconclusive. I wonder what other "further areas" Ted has in mind to expand into?

Think I'm exaggerating? Well I am to a certain degree. But some things aren't too far off. There have already been cases where parents were threatened with their child's removal if they didn't place their child on Ritalin as a school may have recommended. This despite the fact that some children are adversely affected by it... sometimes severely. I understand that obesity is an issue. But it's not the government's. It's mine. It's yours. Having dealt with it myself at one point in my life (not that long ago) I can say this with certainty. There is absolutely nothing government can do to make you lose weight. Nothing. Nada. Zip. Zilch. A person has to decide that he or she wants to lose weight on their own. A parent has to encourage their child to lose weight, help him or her eat less, and get them outside exercising more.

Are the food manufacturers to blame for this? Absolutely not. I believe in the power of the consumer. If we don't buy it, then they won't make it. It's that simple. Should we demonize these companies simply because they make something that tastes good, that we want to eat? That's their job! And if your kid keeps bothering you in the grocery story to buy this, or buy that, because they saw a commercial for it... then say no. It's an important skill to have. My mom never had issue with that word, and 25 years later I don't hate her because of it.

It's a little something I call personal responsibility. Go find another job Bob... I can watch myself.

Update: Radley Balko from The Agitator has a good piece on this over at


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Name: Nick
Home: Wauwatosa, WI, United States

I'm a Software Consultant in the Milwaukee area. Among various geeky pursuits, I'm also an amateur triathlete, and enjoy rock climbing. I also like to think I'm a political pundit.

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