It Looks Like Our Society Actually Wants All Our Kids to be Fat!

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Right now, nearly one in six children is overweight. Given the findings of agroup of studies recently published in the American Journal of PreventiveMedicine, however, it's a wonder that they all aren't fat. Their environment iscertainly working against them.

Each of the studies paints a damning picture of one aspect of our children'schub-charged environment. According to a University of Michign study,eighty-three percent of high schools and 67 percent of middle schools havecontracts with a soft drink manufacturer that pays them from $500 to $6000 ayear for the privilege of fattening the student bodies. Hispanic children aredowning the sodas at the highest rate, but the rest aren't far behind.

In another U of M study, researchers found that only one in ten children istaking any physical education by twelfth grade. That pitiful number is even lessfor African American and Hispanic kids.

A University of Illinois study found that one in four television commercialsseen by teens is for food, and it's definitely not advertising broccoli.African-American adolescents see about fourteen percent more food ads than theirwhite peers, and the ads are heavily weighted, so to speak, toward junk and fastfood.

According to researchers from the U of I, low-income minority neighborhoods areriddled with fast-food outlets, far more than are found in high-income whiteneighborhoods. Another study, from both U of I and U of M, found that theabundance of corner stores in poor neighborhoods is associated with beingfatter, whereas having a large upscale supermarket is associated with beingthinner.

The obvious conclusion, that we need to get our children to eat right andexercise more, seems a bit fatuous in light of the constant environmentalpressures to go the other way that our children are exposed to. If we don'tchange the environment, the likelihood of keeping our children slim looks prettyslim.

Source: Medline Plus; American Journal of Preventive Medicine, September 2007

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