December 11, 2012

"After decades of rising childhood obesity rates, several American cities are reporting their first declines...."

"Researchers say they are not sure what is behind the declines."
Though obesity is now part of the national conversation, with aggressive advertising campaigns in major cities and a push by Michelle Obama, many scientists doubt that anti-obesity programs actually work. Individual efforts like one-time exercise programs have rarely produced results....
What the hell? Give the lady credit!

52 comments:

Pogo said...

I posted the answer here last year, when I predicted that obesity rates would fall and Obama would claim credit.

Poverty is very slimming, and its rate has increased since 2007.

Jana said...
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Jana said...
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Joe P. said...

My impression of Michelle Obama's campaign was that she was giving the same dietary advice that has been official US policy for thirty years, except louder and from a higher pulpit. There is no reason to believe it worked in this case, either. Avoidance of starch, sugar, and processed foods has worked wonders for me and many others, so I am scratching my head as to why either Michelle Obama or the government would continue to promote the Standard American Diet as the one true weight loss solution.

So why did obesity fall? I have no idea, and probably nobody else does either.

Erika said...

Give her some credit for what?

edutcher said...

I'm with Pogo.

Using food stamps for smokes and stuff leaves less to feed the kids.

Pogo said...

I found it.
I was wrong about the timeframe. It only took two years to start.


"Poverty cures obesity.
Every time.
It's a scientific fact!

Real poverty, not the 'bottom quintile' crap the US left has harped about, but old timey hardscrabble tin-roof-no-plumbing impoverishment.

I predict that in ten years, obesity levels will level off and fall modestly.

Why? Because Michelle's husband has enacted policies and raised taxes and outspent his predecessors, which guarantees a slow but steady economic stagnation and national decline.

Put simply, people will have less money, and they will buy less food, so their weight will drop. The feds will claim a healthcare victory.
"

rehajm said...

I was going to eat that cheeseburger and fries until Michelle Obama told me to eat my vegetables...

wyo sis said...

"many scientists doubt that anti-obesity programs actually work. Individual efforts like one-time exercise programs have rarely produced results"

What often produces results is fudging the data.

m stone said...

What often produces results is fudging the data.

Actually, it always produces results by those who will claim it.

I agree with wyo sis.

YoungHegelian said...

What often produces results is fudging the data.

Is fudged data fattening?

Gene said...

"What the hell? Give the lady credit."

She's no lady. She's an absurdly over-paid affirmative action hire, least ways she was till her husband won the White House. Now she's a designer dress clothes horse who takes $3 million vacations to Hawaii.

John Althouse Cohen said...

If the data showed that childhood obesity rates had stayed the same or increased, you can be sure that people would be pointing to it as evidence that Michelle Obama's initiative failed. I'm not sure what evidence could possibly indicate that it succeeded, if not a sudden drop in childhood obesity.

Pogo said...

From Althouse 7/7/2010:

"
"Poverty cures obesity.
Every time.
It's a scientific fact!

Real poverty, not the 'bottom quintile' crap the US left has harped about, but old timey hardscrabble tin-roof-no-plumbing impoverishment.

I predict that in ten years, obesity levels will level off and fall modestly.

Why? Because Michelle's husband has enacted policies and raised taxes and outspent his predecessors, which guarantees a slow but steady economic stagnation and national decline.

Put simply, people will have less money, and they will buy less food, so their weight will drop. The feds will claim a healthcare victory."

SteveR said...

Not that its the only factor in play but as Pogo indicated, economics are the obvious explanation.

Coketown said...

I think a shame-based approach would have produced better results. Once a month, have all the fat kids stand in front of the entire school so everyone can point at them and make little piggy noises. Weeee weeeee weeee, oink oink oink.

I don't like the approach of telling fat kids they're wonderful just the way they are, then secretly depriving them of calories by micromanaging their diets because, really, they aren't wonderful--and looking at them is a little disturbing. First, it's deceitful. Second, it places their self-esteem over their integrity. If they want to be thin they should earn it through hard work and self-discipline, not through school administrators involuntarily starving them to thinness.

Rustling Leaves said...

Awesome! A human triumph. Maybe in a few years we will all be starving to death. FORWARD!

Pogo said...

I underestimated the timeframe.

@John Althouse Cohen
Which do you think is more likely:
1. That a government program amounting to encouragement to lose weight succeeded when no such similar program has ever worked beforein the history of obesity treatment

or

2. People are eating less because inflation has raised food prices significantly?

somefeller said...

If the data showed that childhood obesity rates had stayed the same or increased, you can be sure that people would be pointing to it as evidence that Michelle Obama's initiative failed. I'm not sure what evidence could possibly indicate that it succeeded, if not a sudden drop in childhood obesity.

Stop using that reason stuff, John. It's elitist!

Rustling Leaves said...

I wonder if anyone has any data on the kids who were already underweight before schools started starving kids.

Coketown said...

If the data showed that childhood obesity rates had stayed the same or increased, you can be sure that people would be pointing to it as evidence that Michelle Obama's initiative failed.

Read that over a couple times, then consider what a gee-no-shit statement that is. Of course people would point to it as evidence of failure. Because her initiative to reduce childhood obesity would have failed. It's practically tautological.

I'm not sure what evidence could possibly indicate that it succeeded, if not a sudden drop in childhood obesity.

Maybe a uniform, nation-wide drop, rather than isolated drops of varying magnitude? Childhood obesity increased in many states over the time covered in the article. For example, my state.

This isn't a great Michelle O. victory. It's actually several distinct victories with varying degrees of success for state- and city-specific anti-obesity initiatives.

pm317 said...

Pogo said...

From Althouse 7/7/2010:
--------------------

Good show, Pogo.

Chip S. said...

I'm not sure what evidence could possibly indicate that it succeeded, if not a sudden drop in childhood obesity.

One thing people would try would be to see if regional variation in unemployment rates correlated with regional variation in kids' BMIs.

Another would be to see if the same pattern held for adult BMIs.

A better one would be to get kid-specific data, and see if declines in family income per household matched up with declines in the weight of the kids in each household.

Another possibility would be to see if more obese kids lost weight in heavily pro-Obama Congressional districts than was true for obese kids in heavily pro-Romney districts.

n.n said...

I would go with the inflation argument. Over the last 4 years, the federal government has run 10% of GDP account deficits. This is a comprehensive devaluation of our economy and individual purchasing power. This does not consider the 8% unemployment rate. Perhaps people are actually learning to be frugal.

Food Stamp Nation Marches Onward

They may also be enjoying the return from progressive marginalization.

Alex said...

JAC takes liberties on this blog.

Dr Weevil said...

Could this be a side-effect of other changes? If different ethnic groups have different rates for prevalence of childhood obesity, then a change in the percentages of different ethnic groups in the population as a whole would change the national obesity rate, even if the intra-ethnic rates did not change at all.

To take an obvious (but arguable) example: The bad economy has led to a fairly large out-migration of Mexicans, with millions returning home. If (hypothetically) Mexican kids living in the U.S. are plumper on the average than non-Mexicans, reducing the percentage of Mexicans in the population would all by itself slim down the national average. Are they? I'm not sure, though it's apparent that many Mexican adults are on the short and stocky side.

Rustling Leaves said...

@ Chip S., the article did state that in Mississippi the drop occurred in white kids. You may be on to something.

Or, to tie it in with the sperm count discussion from the other day, perhaps there has been a decrease in fertility in obese families, leading to a decrease in the number of obese children starting school.

EDH said...

Higher food prices

Lower incomes

Unpopular subsidized school meals that kids don't want to eat

BarryD said...

Childhood obesity ostensibly rose again in my state, while simultaneously more and more children go to bed hungry. It seems that all the children who aren't obese, are starving. Yeah, uh huh. Right. Meanwhile the children I actually see in my middle/working-class neighborhood all look pretty normal. Some are chubby, as they have always been. Some are not. None look like they're starving.

So the "progressives" have manufactured excuses to exert more control over individual behavior on the one hand, while simultaneously seizing the assets of people on the other, in the name of helping the poor.

EDH said...

WHO Chief Announces the Good News: "No Signs of Obesity" in North Korea!

BarryD said...

@EDH: LOL

Still, Kim Jong Un looks like a fat little fuck. He's what, 15 years old and 4 foot 6? Probably hard to keep the weight off, what with him getting 100 times the rations of your average North Korean.

Ralph L said...

The answer is obvious: more kids are smoking!

Left Bank of the Charles said...

It's ethanol, baby!

heyboom said...

Barry D, you said exactly what I've been wondering. How is it that we can simultaneously have a childhood obesity problem and a childhood hunger problem? Then, it occurred to me...the fat kids are stealing all of the food from the hungry kids.

Eric said...

Childhood obesity ostensibly rose again in my state, while simultaneously more and more children go to bed hungry. It seems that all the children who aren't obese, are starving. Yeah, uh huh. Right.

Nah, they've just redefined "hunger" to mean you missed a meal in the last month. I don't remember the exact definition, but it's something like that.

Where I live the Mexican children all show up at the local park on Saturdays. Most of them are probably obese, technically. There are some kids maybe eight or nine years old that must be pushing 200 pounds. I'm not sure if a kid like that is even going to reach the age when he can have children.

When the ice cream truck shows up they all waddle over and buy the thing out. I don't know what the hell their parents are thinking.

techsan said...

Wow! A foundation run by Dr. Lavizzo-Mourey [who] was a member of the White House Task Force on Health Care Reform and served as a consultant to the White House on issues of health policy. finds amazing improvements in obesity rates!

Eric said...

Still, Kim Jong Un looks like a fat little fuck. He's what, 15 years old and 4 foot 6? Probably hard to keep the weight off, what with him getting 100 times the rations of your average North Korean.

But still he managed to become the sexiest man alive.

Eric said...

Barry D, you said exactly what I've been wondering. How is it that we can simultaneously have a childhood obesity problem and a childhood hunger problem? Then, it occurred to me...the fat kids are stealing all of the food from the hungry kids.

Or... (duh dun duuuuuuuuuuuuuh) eating them.

cubanbob said...

45 years ago when I was in middle school we had these horrible lunches composed of disgustingly delicious foods like hamburgers with French fries, meatloaf with mashed potatoes and gravy with lots of white bread and real butter and cake. Boy did I love those baked fresh yellow cake with the coconut frosting. But then again we actually had PE and walked to and from school and after school we walked here and there as we hanged out since back in those primitive days we didn't have the Internet and computer games. Funny, we weren't fat.

kiruwa said...

Is there a correlation between these cities and the cities that have more faithfully adopted the 'caloric restrictions' on school lunches (that cause such problems for high school athletes)?

It should be noted that the M.Obama comment in the article was an aside... not everything is as political as this comment thread. In general, First Ladies choose some relatively innocuous, mostly non-partisan movement to represent from their national stage. The opposition never gives credit, and the 'professionals' in that area also never give credit if progress is made.

mccullough said...

According to the article, most of the reduction is concentrated among affluent whites. Philadelphia has seen reduction across the races as its been working on the problem for a decade and got rid of the deep fryers in the schools along with the pop machines. Kids shouldn't be eating much fried food or sugary drinks or candy bars. Definitely not at school on a daily basis. Anyway, good news is always welcome.

whoresoftheinternet said...

"Fat chicks need lovin', too--
'Cept they gotta pay."
----Quagmire

Mary said...

"There are some kids maybe eight or nine years old that must be pushing 200 pounds. I'm not sure if a kid like that is even going to reach the age when he can have children.

When the ice cream truck shows up they all waddle over and buy the thing out. I don't know what the hell their parents are thinking.

12/11/12 11:15 PM"
----------
Gordito is good. Fat kids means you have plenty. It's a culture thing.

(I wonder if JAC understands when parents ... "self deport", they take their successful kids with them. He's no Nate Silver, that one.)

DEEBEE said...

Why not, after all she is the wife of the Nobel PEace Prize Winner

Dante said...

Give the lady credit? For what? Expanding government into the realm of what we eat?

I want a country where individuals are strong, not sheep led by a bunch of on high priests.

Anyway, I love Pogo's responses. Very clever.

And Ann deserves credit for spying this out two years ago.

TomB said...

According to data masseur extraordinaire, the unexpected fall in obesity has something to do with tree rings in Siberia.

twincrest said...

Childhood obesity will never be solved until physical education on a daily basis is re-instated in the public school system. One hour of rigorous exercise 5 days/week will do more to eliminate obesity than a dozen years of slogans, posters and MO photo ops. Children today do not work up a sweat ever, except the student athletes. The school districts eliminated gym teachers at the first budget crunch. Those that remain have to teach kids PC oriented games. No one can look bad so no one gets to compete.

dbp said...

If childhood obesity has fallen, Pogo's hypothesis seems like the most likely cause. I suspect this is just a case of data mining: Point out a decrease here or there, ignore the increases (which are more numerous) and claim victory!

Beldar said...

"Give the lady credit!"

But only when it's deserved, and here it's not, no more than I credit Lady Bird Johnson for every five-yard stretch of highway that's not (yet) littered.

People live their lives. Please stop pretending that Michelle Obama, or her husband, are more important than they really are.

Amartel said...

"Give the lady credit."

The lady has been given entirely too much credit. Same with her hubby.

Eric said...

Gordito is good. Fat kids means you have plenty. It's a culture thing.

Plenty of what? Insulin and blood pressure medication? Surely it's not any more comfortable, physically and socially, to be a fat Mexican than it is to be a fat American.

Alex said...

Gordito is good. Fat kids means you have plenty. It's a culture thing.

You must be nucking futs.