OK, here’s another bit of valuable information about today’s obesity ‘news’. Today the UK’s Press, TV and radio went into a frenzy reporting the first paper in The Lancet Obesity Series describing the global initiators of the obesity epidemic according to a study by Professor Boyd Swinburn and Dr Gary Sacks from the World Health Organisation Collaborating Centre for Obesity at Deakin University in Melbourne, Australia.
Professor Boyd Swinburn is the Chair of the International Obesity Task Force and Dr Gary Sacks is also a member.
The International Obesity Task Force plays a key role in determining policy for the World Health Organization. The International Obesity Task force is funded by the pharmaceuticals industry – part of the global weight loss industry said to be worth US$586.3 Billion by 2014.
I wonder if this study that has had everyone in a fat hatred frenzy today will make anyone any money? Hmmm.
Oh my goodness! There’s so much for me to talk about today that I don’t know
If any journalists are reading, the Rudd Center offers a set of media guidelines and a free image gallery to aid journalists, photo editors, bloggers, advertisers and other influencers in the creation and delivery of fair, unbiased coverage of obesity and weight-related topics on television, in print and online. These comprehensive resources can be found online at www.yaleruddcenter.org.
I read today’s health news about ‘obesity prevention’ starting to have a positive impact with surprise. In all the years since I’ve been researching into this stuff I’ve never found any evidence that the way we’re dealing with the so-called ‘obesity epidemic’ (which is an overeating epidemic, not obesity) has had anything but a negative effect. I’ve known without doubt that all of our obesity prevention methods are digging us deeper into the hole we’re trying to get out of. All my beliefs, theories and five years of helping people has been influenced by this, so when I saw the headline:
My heart started to speed up. I’ll admit this was a mixture of hope (because if it were true it would be fantastic) and fear (because I’d have to go right back to the beginning and start everything again from scractch and re-think my whole career). But I also had a feeling of doubt because of the evidence that’s already been around for a long time that the opposite is true – evidence that is like an avalanche of trials and studies.
This trial states that: “Increasing public awareness of the childhood obesity epidemic may be contributing to evidence of overall reductions in body mass index (BMI), a measure of obesity in children, according to the results of a nationwide study.”
The report doesn’t say how many schools were involved, just that they were nationwide. Basically they divided schools into two groups. Group 1 carried on without change. Group 2 implemented the usual ‘obesity intervention’ of ‘changes in their nutritional and physical education programs’.
The results of the study were surprising to the researchers because both schools had a reduction in ‘obesity’ levels, very similar reductions in BMI. The BMI decreased by more than 4% for both groups of students from the start of 6th grade to the end of 8th grade.
The title of this report suggests that the trial itself is revealing the positive impact but it’s just showing that wherever kids are they’re going to be influenced by the weight loss/diet message, regardless of whether it’s part of their actual in-school education. And let’s have a closer look at a possible explanation this 4% decrease in BMI in these kids.
Have a look at this study, also in the news:
This study was carried out in Taiwan on 120 schools. Thirteen per cent of the 8,673 girls and 7,043 boys who took part in the research admitted they made themselves sick to lose weight.
Interestingly this report says that a study by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, published in 2010, found that 4% of students had vomited or taken laxatives in the last 30 days to lose or stop gaining weight.
The report went on to quote the Dr conducting the trial: “Our study found that children as young as ten were aware of the importance of weight control, but used vomiting to control their weight” concludes Dr Liou. “This reinforces the need for public health campaigns that stress the negative impact that vomiting can have on their health and encourage them to tackle any weight issues in a healthy and responsible way.”
It’s tackling ‘weight issues’ in what society believes is a healthy and responsible way that is making sure that the kids are making themselves vomit in the first place!
This doctor goes on to say: “The findings also suggest that self-induced vomiting might serve as an early marker for the development of obesity and/or other eating and weight-related problems.”
Yes. Interfere with kids’ natural food regulation systems (in the brain) by making them look outside themselves for instructions about what and how much to eat and you get kids who feel like they are unable to control food – they react in one of two ways – take absolute control (bulimia/anorexia) or give up and lose control (overeaters).
Or they start off over controlling build stress through the feeling of food scarcity, spark up a stress response occurs that causes a functional re-wiring in the brain. This re-wiring impair the endocannabinoids’ ability to regulate food intake and could contribute to enhanced food drive and they become compulsive overeaters many of which will become obese.
Basically this is a long-winded explanation of why the first study about the positive impact of our obsession with thinness and dieting is utter rubbish.
A new study from researchers at Louisiana State University suggests that kids who eat sweets are less likely to be obese than kids who avoid eating them.
Well, this is how the reports are telling the tale. I prefer to say: “A new study from researchers at Louisiana State University suggests that kids who feel free to eat sweets are less likely to overeat in general.” I say this because eating habits, not body fat, are what we’re really talking about here.
The study, which followed 11,000 kids ages 2 to 18 over five years, found that the kids who ate sweets were 22 percent less likely to have eating patterns that led them to gain weight. The difference was more dramatic among teens, where those who ate sweets were 26 per cent less likely to overeat than those who didn’t indulge.
Besides being less likely to overeat, the sweet-eating kids also had lower levels of C-reactive protein in their blood, indicating a reduced chance of inflammation in the body, heart disease, and other chronic illnesses.
This study along with many others suggesting restricting access to particular foods increases rather than decreases preference. (*1) Just like forcing a child to eat a food will decrease the liking for that food so trying to over control your child’s urges to eat sweets (or any type of food) will mean they’re more likely to eat even more of them when you’re not there.
Now I’m not suggesting you should start pumping your kids full of Curly Wurlys, all I’m asking you to think about is how restricting any type of food at a time when natural eating regulation and self reliance should be becoming established might disrupt your child’s ability to control eating.
Evidence suggests that children do prefer sweet and salty tastes but they naturally respond to high energy foods and even hough intake at individual meals is erratic, if left to their own choices, 24-hour energy intake is relatively well regulated. (*2)
This could make all the difference and how you deal with your child’s food regulation right from birth will make a difference to whether he or she grows up with or without disordered eating patterns leading to conditions ranging from anorexia to binge eating disorder.
Research shows that by making foods unavailable they become more attractive. A good illustration of why the sweet eating kids might be better able to regulate their food was displayed in the BBC programme The Truth About Food a couple of years ago. The BBC took a classroom of four and five year olds and examined their reaction to restricted treats over a week.
They used two foods that all the children were nonplussed about – they tested them with a range of dried fruit snacks and mangos and raisins and the kids, predictably, were equally indifferent to the snacks. So every day, at snack time, they put the two bowls of snacks side by side and told the children that on the first whistle they had 15 minutes of unrestricted access to the mango. At the second whistle they had only five minutes of snack time to eat the raisins.
They watched the children day by day as the mango fell out of favour and the kids began craving raisins. To begin with the children snacked voraciously on the mango but were more excited when it was raisin time. By the end of the week there was a stampede to reach the forbidden fruit, and the mango was looking less and less attractive.
The same kids who were indifferent to both snacks at the beginning of the week couldn’t get enough of the raisins by the end.
So, by restricting snacks and sweets you may have the adverse effect of making your children desire them even more and this craving or desire that is then mixed with guilt and shame, usually connected to body weight, is the first stage into the child losing inborn natural food regulation and the start of a life of compulsive overeating or undereating.
There’s a ‘news’ story out today that says overeating counselling (they call it ‘obesity counselling’ but that’s just prejudice) should focus on neurobehavioural processes – the ways the brain controls eating behaviour in response to biological and environmental factors – instead of personal choice and willpower
I’ve been teaching this to Food Philosophy clients since 2005.
I mean – I’m not a scientist, I’m a life coach and journalist.
I have a question:
Why can I have known this for at least six years and many specialists and scientists have only just worked it out?
I’m clever, but I’m not that clever!
I’m writing a feature for the magazine about fat. Not that Beautiful magazine is all about that, it’s not. In Beautiful magazine we cover a diverse range of subjects including celebrities, food, reviews, fashion and beauty to name a few. But you know our policy is to only show models size 12 and over and to ban diet advice etc etc. So the way we view size and body image is my thing. I’ve been a body image coach for five years so it’s what I write/think about most. I’m compelled to write and speak out about it.
I know a lot about why people eat too much or too little and I know about the role that weight plays in the problem of food regulation. I understand what’s going on in the mind of an overeater because I am one and an undereater because I’ve been there too, but also because I’ve spent 20 years reading obsessively about it and five years talking to hundreds and hundreds of women about their thoughts and feelings on food, eating and body image.
It’s my specialist subject and I’m a writer so I do write about it a lot.
I read about it a lot too and I’ve known that with the way the media is in fat hatred frenzy I’ve always got plenty to read. I just didn’t realise how much! A couple of days ago I set a Google alert with the word ‘obesity’. Google alerts just let you know the daily news on any subject of your choosing. So if you type in the word ‘goldfish’, you’ll get a list of all the news that contains the word ‘goldfish’ delivered to you in an email every 24 hours. I’ve got quite a few subjects of interest Google Alerted but none have delivered like the one for obesity.
Today’s obesity alert has delivered the following news:
Bicycle charity joins fight against childhood obesity
Moms Talk: Is There a Link Between Childhood Obesity and Exposure to Food Ads?
Fast food outlets face ban in drive to tackle child obesity
Obesity and pregnancy guidelines stir debate
Obesity Raises Risk for Early Death in Nonsmoking Women
US Military Fights Battle of the Bulge
US study on cutting rates of Pacific childhood obesity
Fat Tissue Provides Clues to Treat Obesity-related Diseases
Meat, potatoes cause obesity?
How Do Food Prices Affect Childhood Obesity?
It’s like this every day. There’s no other subject that delivers like this one. And because I know a great deal about the subject I can also see that much of the news on obesity is twisted and misunderstood. A lot of people make a lot of money from propaganda about obesity and it has consequences. Let’s just take one of these headlines at random and look at it closely to see how twisted it is and who loses out and who benefits.
Obesity Raises Risk for Early Death in Nonsmoking Women.
Actually, I can’t. I’ll have to come back to this because it is so stupid and so dangerous and full of misinformation and half truths that it’s making me too angry to write. It’s not too far-fetched to say that if this ‘news’ report stops just one person giving up smoking or drives a non-smoker to take up cigarettes because they think it will help them to lose weight, it could be directly to blame if that person dies of a smoking related disease. More than one person will give up their plans to stop smoking after reading this so the likelihood is that the report will be responsible for more than one death.
If you smoke because of this irresponsible journalism, you won’t lose weight, you’ll just become a smoker of the same weight you are now. Think about who benefits from this ‘news’. Here’s a clue, it’s not you.