Friday, October 06, 2006

Child obesity

A team of researchers in Glasgow has concluded that eating fewer pies is the solution to child obesity:
"The study, published in the British Medical Journal this week, was led by John Reilly, a professor in paediatric energy metabolism at Glasgow University. His team set out to establish whether greater physical activity would prevent children from becoming overweight. They recruited 545 children in their last year at 36 nursery schools.

Half the schools instituted three extra half-hour sessions of physical play and activity every week, and parents were given information packs encouraging them to give their children more activity and less television. The other half had no extra activity or information.

All the children were regularly weighed and measured and their body mass index (BMI - the relationship between weight and height used to check for obesity) was calculated, and there was no difference between the groups."
It's not quite the Department of the Bleeding Obvious; I confess I'm surprised that exercise in this case appeared to make no difference.

At the risk of being lumped in with climate-change deniers and other Evil People, I have to say I'm a little sceptical about this 'obesity time-bomb' we're supposed to be facing as a society.

Leaving aside the question of whether it is the state's proper role to make people thinner, there's surely doubt as to whether it is competent to do so?

And I hope you don't think I'm being contrarian for its own sake when I express a little scepticism as to the nature of the Problem:
"Yet the problem is serious: in Scotland in 2001 at least 10% of children aged four to five and 20% of children aged 11 to 12 were obese. "Children in Scotland establish a physically inactive lifestyle before school entry," they wrote."
My understanding is that one is classed as 'obese' when you are twenty per cent over your ideal body weight. Fat central, in other words.

I'm also led to believe that this is a problem particularly associated with lower income families.

Taking all of this together, this means in an inner-city Glasgow school, one should expect on average to be confronted with at least six fatties in a first year class of thirty.

I've seen more than my fair share of such classes and while my impressions are purely subjective and anecdotal, unless the schools I've been in secretly stream their classes according to girth and have kept the larger ones away from me, I can't help being a little sceptical.

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