In 2010 Michele Obama made it her mission to address the “child obesity epidemic”. The goal of Mrs. Obama is to reduce child obesity from the current 20% of all children to 5% by 2030. WebMD reports, “To accomplish this, the plan makes 70 recommendations for early childhood, for parents and caregivers, for school meals and nutrition education, for access to healthy food, and for increasing physical activity.”
According to WebMD, “Obesity is an excess proportion of total body fat. A person is considered obese when his or her weight is 20% or more above normal weight. The most common measure of obesity is the body mass index or BMI.”
“U.S. kids haven’t always been obese. Only one in 20 children ages 2 to 19 was obese in the 1970s. But around 1980 child obesity began to rocket to today’s stratospheric level: Nearly one in three kids is overweight or obese, and nearly one in five is frankly obese,” notes WebMD.
What is the cause of this stratospheric increase in child obesity? ANSWER: Single parent households.
In July 2010 the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) reported, “Prevalence of childhood obesity and its complications have increased world-wide. Parental status may be associated with children’s health outcomes including their eating habits, body weight and blood cholesterol.” [My emphasis]
The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) for the years 1988–1994 provided a unique opportunity for matching parents to children enabling analyses of joint demographics, racial differences and health indicators. Specifically, the NHANES III data, 1988–1994, of 219 households with single-parents and 780 dual-parent households were analyzed as predictors for primary outcome variables of children’s Body Mass Index (BMI), dietary nutrient intakes and blood cholesterol.
The NHANES survey found:
- Children of single-parent households were significantly more overweight than children of dual-parent households.
- Total calorie and saturated fatty acid intakes were higher among children of single-parent households than dual-parent households.
- On average, Black children were more overweight than children of other races.
The study results implied a strong relationship between single-parent status and excess weight in children. The NHANES survey states, “Parental involvement in the development of school- and community-based obesity prevention programs are suggested for effective health initiatives. Economic constraints and cultural preferences may be communicated directly by family involvement in these much needed public health programs.”
Mark Mather from the Population Reference Bureau reports, “In the United States, the number of children in single-mother families has risen dramatically over the past four decades, causing considerable concern among policymakers and the public. Researchers have identified the rise in single-parent families (especially mother-child families) as a major factor driving the long-term increase in child poverty in the United States.” To read the full report click here.
Data from the Sarasota County School Board shows that since President Obama took office the number of children who are classified as obese is Sarasota public schools has risen as the children progress from Grade 1 – to Grade 3 – to Grade 6. The cohort obesity numbers go down at Grade 9. For example, 15.7% of students in Grade 1 in the 2008/2009 school year were obese. In 2011/2012 school year 18.8% of students in Grade 3 were obese. An increase of 3.1% of students in grade during school year 2008/2009 18.8% were obese. In Grade 6 that cohort increased to 20.1%. The Grade 6 cohort in 2008/2009 data was 21.5% and in 2011/12 dropped to 17.6%.
Public schools do not keep data on obese children who live in single parent households.
Many are questioning whether the First Lady is addressing the root cause of child obesity – single parent households. Some see this health initiative as expanding government control of parents and children. Setting caloric standards is the first step in setting eating limits. Limits lead to control of food sources, leading to the redistribution of calories. Should not we be focused on the rising number of single parent households?
Perhaps it would be better for the First Lady to focus on increasing the number of traditional two parent families? After all, she has a traditional family and her husband and children all have normal weights according to the BMI calculator.
JUST FOR FUN:
As an aside, Watchdog Wire looked at some well known public figures and calculated their BMI scores.
Using the BMI calculator we determined that New York Jets quarterback Tim Tebow, who is 6′ 3″ tall and weights 236 pounds, is overweight. If Tebow gains 5 pounds he will be categorized as “Obese Class 1”. In fact the entire New York Jets offensive and defensive lines are obese.
Muscle Chemistry lists the height and weight of actors. Those in Hollywood who are overweight according to the BMI calculator include: Whoppi Goldberg, Al Pacino, Oprah Winfrey, Brad Pitt and George Clooney. Sylvester Stallone is rated as Obese Class 1.