Monday, September 15, 2008

Disproportionate Perspectives

Well, this explains a few things. From the journalistically challenged group calling itself Yahoo! News, we have this grammatically mangled headline "Bullying Top Concern of Parents With Overweight Child" I'm going to take a pass on a grammar rant today because the story itself needs to have it's idiocy highlighted. If I spent time pointing out all that is wrong over there at Yahoo! News, we could be here a while. No, we would be here a while because the 23-year olds who are running that debacle are not about to be told what to do when they clearly know everything.

So here's the scoop: "According to a report by the University of Michigan C.S. Mott Children's Hospital National Poll on Children's Health, bullying is the top "health" concern among parents with overweight and obese children." Um, WTF? Are they kidding? First of all, bullying is a "health concern"? Since when? A "concern over the condition of the human body (and whether or not it's going to get F-ed up by a bully)" it may be, but a "health concern"? Second, how does "bullying" take priority over the fact that their kid is obese? Oh, right, because their kid is obese.

See, there are not a lot of reasons for a child to be overweight. (Don't send me email about medical conditions, thyroid problems and slow metabolisms. I know. And we both know that 99 times out of 100 none of those things are the problem.) That's because it's pretty easy to keep a child at an acceptable and healthy weight. As the person with the job in the household who buys the food, you do have more control than the child over what they eat. You're also the person who can say, "Go play" and toss them outside while you flop your ass on the couch to watch the game. So if your little bundle of joy is rotund, that's a problem, but it's not just the kid's problem, it's the parent's problem as well and those kind of parents don't do so well with the whole "taking responsibility" thing. But I digress. Where was I?

Oh, right, bullying is the number one concern among parents with obese or overweight children. A one Dr. Matthew M. Davis who is the director of the National Poll on Children's Health, said, "We found that parents with overweight or obese children actually view bullying as a greater problem than childhood obesity. Since bullying is known to be a problem for children with increased weight, bullying prevention programs will need to be mindful of obesity as a potential trigger for bullying behavior and of parents concerns surrounding this issue." Wait. What does that mean exactly?

First of all, which group are the "bullying prevention programs" directed at? The potential bullies or the potential victims? Does that mean they will be telling the parents of potential victims that, hey, if your child is overweight, they're likely to get picked on? So if you don't want that, well then, you'd better help your little butterball buttercup out there. (Oh, how I would hope that would be in addition to all of the "obesity prevention programs" that I'm sure are equally prevalent. Actually, in case you didn't catch that, I was being sarcastic. See, I'm not sure that there are "obesity prevention programs" at all. There used to be and they were called "recess" and "playing outside". You'd think that there were "obesity advancement programs" from the looks of a lot of people I've seen lately.) This is just wrong on many, many levels.

The fact that bullying was more of a concern to parents of overweight or obese children than the overweightness and the obesity itself is disturbing. And that weight issues as potential triggers of bullies are now needing to be incorporated into programs designed to prevent bullying is a sad statement in and of itself. You know what else is disturbing? "Nearly two in five of the families polled included one or more overweight or obese child between the ages of 6 and 13.

"Between 6 and 13"?! See? It is not OK that we are talking about obese six year olds! And why is that do you suppose? Oh, here's a clue: "The poll also showed that children who were obese or overweight were almost twice as likely to have an obese parent as healthy weight children." All right, they needed a study to figure that out? Have they not been to a County Fair lately? It's like an Oopmah Loompah convention down there!

The point here is that people are more concerned about other people picking on their child than if their child is overweight. That would explain why there are more overweight children than there are children who are picked on (regardless as to the proportion of overweight to regular weight kids who are picked on), because while being overweight is not exactly "acceptable", it's more acceptable than having someone else draw attention to the fact that you're overweight? Why is that? I'm not sure, but I think it has something to do with the general soft-headed mentality that's taking over. You know, the one where everyone is OK and no one can do anything wrong and there are no mistakes and no one loses the game and a whole bunch of other crap like that.

The thing is, regardless as to why your kid is overweight and regardless as to whether they're being picked on or not, the kid's weight needs to be the focus and the point of importance, whether people like it or not. It's a health issue and being overweight when you are between 6 and 13 is only going to cause more health issues as you get older. And really, if you're 6, I don't think you should have to deal with health issues because of your weight.

Attention, people who took that poll: Focus, people! Focus! Everyone is going to get picked on, overweight or not. It's called school (and after that it's called life). Raise your kid to be able to deal with it. That way, they can take care of that and you can take care of them and make sure that they are at a weight that is appropriate for their body type at whatever age they're at. Perspective. It's all about perspective. (That's why when people get too large, they lose that perspective. And when that happens, it really helps to paint a stripe around their middle so you can tell if they're walking or rolling.)

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