Obesity: The New Report-Card Anxiety

Hey, Piggie, how much do you weigh? That’s the question overweight Arkansas school children can expect from their peers this year. The state will require all schools to include obesity grades, along with reading and math, on report cards.

We already knew the food police don’t believe we can feed ourselves properly, but how dumb do they think we are? Most homes have scales and mirrors. Even more have adults with at least one functional eye. You don’t need a school nurse to warn you that your child is getting pudgy.

One Arkansas newspaper quotes a father of two arguing: “I guess they’re looking at taking responsibility away from parents … I feel that that’s an issue that should be between my child’s doctor and myself.”

Another paper reports:

In middle school, where children are exposed to intense peer pressure, “it’s almost inevitable that they’ll compare scores and teasing will occur,” said Daniel Whitehorn, principal of Pulaski Heights Middle School in Little Rock, and the impact on overweight kids’ self-esteem could be “devastating.” …

“You’re setting kids up to feel bad about how they are,” and that could aggravate, not alleviate, weight problems, said Dr. Nancy Krebs, chairwoman of the American Academy of Pediatrics’ Committee on Nutrition and an associate professor of medicine at the University of Colorado.

According to research, trying to put children and teens on diets or control what they eat can “create disordered eating,” she said.

Dr. Krebs’ analysis makes us wonder if cramming before a mid-term exam will now be replaced by purging before the big weigh-in.

And how will schools use this new information? Will children land in detention for failing their “fat test”? Will only the “beautiful people” make the Honor Roll? Will everyone with a Body Mass Index over 25.0 be forced to eat special fat-free cafeteria food? Or will this exercise simply provide another opportunity for overweight children to be tormented by their thinner peers?

Arkansas should look to the example of Illinois, which is now the only state in the nation that requires physical education through high school. Unfortunately, if you label something a “crisis” and an “epidemic” — and throw in hype and hysteria — you end up with absurd policies like obesity report cards.

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