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It's been just months since Michelle Obama's childhood obesity initiative was put in place and now the NYTimes is reporting that childhood obesity (among white kids) is going down.
All hail our glorious leader('s spouse)!
The trend has emerged in big cities like New York and Los Angeles, as well as smaller places like Anchorage, Alaska, and Kearney, Neb. The state of Mississippi has also registered a drop, but only among white students.
“It’s been nothing but bad news for 30 years, so the fact that we have any good news is a big story,” said Dr. Thomas Farley, the health commissioner in New York City, which reported a 5.5 percent decline in the number of obese schoolchildren from 2007 to 2011.
The drops are small, just 5 percent here in Philadelphia and 3 percent in Los Angeles. But experts say they are significant because they offer the first indication that the obesity epidemic, one of the nation’s most intractable health problems, may actually be reversing course.
The first dips — noted in a September report by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation — were so surprising that some researchers did not believe them.
The point here is not to mock Michelle's initiative (though I think it isn't well-designed) but to point to the fact that people, when faced with a challenge, will adapt themselves sans government intervention. The Times piece keeps trying to give all credit to schools--and they played a part, no doubt--but the ultimate responsibilty falls on the individual. If they are not motivated to make a change, they will not.
But the message seems to be getting through, even if acting on it is daunting. Josh Monserrat, an eighth grader at John Welsh Elementary, uses words like “carbs,” and “portion size.” He is part of a student group that promotes healthy eating. He has even dressed as an orange to try to get other children to eat better. Still, he struggles with his own weight. He is 5-foot-3 but weighed nearly 200 pounds at his last doctor’s visit.
“I was thinking, ‘Wow, I’m obese for my age,’ ” said Josh, who is 13. “I set a goal for myself to lose 50 pounds.”
Giving him the information is good, yes. But to paraphrase my buddy DDP, Josh needed to own his life. If that internal motivation was lacking, he was going to fail. The school gave him the tools, he needed to do it himself.