Saturday, 25 July 2015

On the nonsense of our obsession with children's weight


There are children with a serious weight problem but there aren't very many of them. Unless of course you rely on a simplistic measure that takes no account of differential rates of development and which places an entirely arbitrary level for 'normal', 'overweight' and 'obese. The result of this - plus the endless bothering in the media about weight - is that children, especially girls, are worrying about their weight. Most of the time this gets blamed on skinny models and the fashion industry which means that another culprit - public health campaigns about childhood obesity - gets away without any criticism.

Here's a comment from the former head of the Food Policy and Research Unit at Bradford University (and Bingley Rural resident), Vernor Wheelock:

"Verner Wheelock, former head of the University of Bradford’s Food Policy and Research Unit who now runs a food training and consultancy service in Skipton, believes the BMI (Body Mass Index) system of measuring body fat based on weight in relation to height is a 'nonsense.'

He says some people with a higher life expectancy are in the overweight category and says it is even more difficult to calculate when it comes to children because they're still growing and there are some muscular children with a higher BMI. "When officials get hold of them they say they have to lose weight, but it's nonsense," says Verner,

He believes there is too much obsession with weight and that many people are given the wrong dietary advice."

What sort of barking mad world do we live in where one day children are being told they shouldn't worry about not looking like a supermodel (and anyway they're unhealthily skinny) and thew next that their BMI places than as overweight meaning they should lose weight. All this is against a background where, as Dr Wheelock points out some overweight people - in particular older people - have a higher life expectancy that people with a 'normal' weight.


No comments: