ROSE NOLEN: Government needs to protect kids from irresponsible parenting

Tuesday, November 2, 2010 | 12:01 a.m. CDT

I'm glad that I am not one of the food behavior scientists being paid to try to find ways to encourage children who use the federal lunch programs to choose more nutritious foods. I certainly think something should be done about obesity in children and teenagers and I appreciate the Department of Agriculture for making the effort, but this is just one of the many problems connected to irresponsible parenting.

I attended a meeting a couple of weeks ago with an agency that is also attempting to deal with obesity among children. Personally, I think it's pretty much an uphill battle. In the first place, many parents are overweight and they don't set a good example for their children. Besides, overeating seems to have become a way of life in America.

I notice too, that some organizations can no longer hold a meeting unless it is accompanied by a big meal. One national organization that held a day ­and a half convention in a nearby community had five scheduled meals on its agenda. It occurred to me to wonder when they had time to take care of their business. Churches also seem to have a lot of events where meals are served.

According to some statistics, about one-third of children and teenagers are overweight. It's fortunate that helping children make wise food choices isn't one of those areas where people want the government out of their lives. (Oops, I forgot. These people only want government out of their lives when government wants something from them, not the other way around.) Anyway, bringing up children is obviously a role government is going to have to play, since many parents have allowed the children to be at the head of the household and society has set rules that makes it virtually impossible for anyone else to intercede. I would imagine that no matter what schools try to do to assist with this problem, if the children do not want to cooperate, their parents will see that they don't have to.

I have no idea where the public thinks this reversal of parent-child roles in this country is going to lead. This fight over chocolate versus white milk being served with the federal school lunch program has been going for at least 30 years. I think it's unfortunate that some children won't know what the word "no" means until they become adults. But hopefully at some point the American taxpayer will figure out how much this attitude is costing them and decide to intervene. In the meantime a lot of people are fed up with this society's focus on children's wants.

People figured out how much smoking was costing them, so they passed laws to govern the use of tobacco. When they figure out how much is spent in support of the foster care system, the juvenile justice system and all the other money that is being spent as a result of irresponsible parents, they might find out that it costs less to pay for parenting classes and establish regulations governing the feeding and caring of children.

Except in cases of abuse and neglect, the man or woman-on-the-street likes to believe that they think of the rights of parents to bring up their children as they see fit, are sacrosanct. Actually, I believe they feel that way right up until they see how much it's costing them and they get the bill. Incidentally, the grant to initiate this program using food behavioral scientist is costing the government two million dollars.

Some of us can remember the days when communities had standards of behavior which the majority adhered to. We can also remember when the majority of parents took responsibility for the behavior of their kids. That was the America of yesterday and this is the America of today, where "we the people" must assume the responsibility for maintaining a civilization where children are kept safe and cared for responsibly and where it's safe for its citizens to be human.

Those of us who grew up in families where we were loved but not idealized and became working parents who still provided nutritious meals for our families do not have a lot of patience with parents who allow their children to devour all the junk food they can eat. The use of our tax dollars to help undo the harm people are doing to their own children goes against the grain.

On the other hand if government doesn't step in to try to protect these children, who will?

You can join the conversation with Rose M. Nolen by calling her at 882-5734 or e-mailing her at

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john erkle November 2, 2010 | 8:12 a.m.

Mississippi Legislature
2008 Regular Session
House Bill 282
House Calendar | Senate Calendar | Main Menu
Additional Information | All Versions

Current Bill Text: |

Description: Food establishments; prohibit from serving food to any person who is obese.

Background Information:
Disposition: Active
Deadline: General Bill/Constitutional Amendment
Revenue: No
Vote type required: Majority
Effective date: July 1, 2008

History of Actions:
1 01/25 (H) Referred To Public Health and Human Services;Judiciary B

----- Additional Information -----

House Committee: Public Health and Human Services*, Judiciary B

Principal Author: Mayhall
Additional Authors: Read, Shows


----- Bill Text for All Versions ----
| As Introduced (Current)

Information pertaining to this measure was last updated on 01/29/2008 at 11:24
End Of Document

The “epidemic” of diabetes is nearly entirely manufactured by our changing in the standard of what we call diabetes. For proof of this see the WHO report on diabetes at:

Within you will find a nice chart that shows that the prevalence of diabetes was tripled solely by the change in diagnostic guidlines instituted in 2003. The only way we will have another dramatic increase in diabetes is when the medical authorities who decide what diabetes means change the criteria again.

(Report Comment)
john erkle November 2, 2010 | 8:15 a.m.

The BMI Change of 1998
I noticed that CNN was running a new scare graphic of fat in the US, linked via digg. And of course there's Dr. Gupta making a guest appearance.

There's one thing that this map, and every map charting the BMI changes, doesn't mention: the US government's redefinition of what it means to be "obese". It happened in 1998.

Check out this article on the then-proposed changes.

Under the proposed guidelines, which are to be announced later this month by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), 25 million more Americans would be considered overweight -- including two baseball third-basemen: Chipper Jones of the Atlanta Braves and Cal Ripken Jr. of the Baltimore Orioles.

People were concerned about the changes - understandably:

[Dr. Judith] Stern and other some critics worry that if the draft guidelines are adopted, doctors might prescribe diet pills for patients considered overweight -- when a little exercise might be all that's needed.

Good thing we don't need prescriptions to poop our pants. Problem solved!

When the BMI change did pass, CNN looked at the specifics.

Using the old criteria, the average woman -- with a height of 5 feet, 4 inches (1.6 meters) and weighing 155 pounds (70 kilograms) -- was considered overweight.

Under the new definition, that weight drops to 145 pounds (66 kg). A person at the same height who weighs 175 pounds (79 kg) would be considered obese.

Look at that again. The average woman is overweight.

This proves once again that the BMI labels are meaningless. If everyone is "overweight", then no one is overweight.

(Report Comment)
john erkle November 2, 2010 | 8:23 a.m.

Anti-Smoking Tactics Can Squeeze Obesity

There is no question that secondhand smoke can be unpleasant; few nonsmokers want to sit in a cloud of tobacco dust or have tobacco smell on their clothing or hair. But is it dangerous to your health? A study of 35,561 spouses of smokers followed for 38 years published in the British Medical Journal in 2003 showed that second-hand smoke is an irritant, but does not cause life-threatening disease. Actually, "secondhand eating" may be more dangerous.

A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine in July 2007 clearly shows that each of us is at an added personal health risk of gaining weight if our friends or associates become obese. This fascintating study followed the weight changes over time among residents of Framingham, Mass. It revealed "networks of obesity"; that is, we are all interconnected in regard to weight.

Talk about junk studies........if we see our friends over eating we will unbelievable.

Yet the second hand smoke study the doctor refers to is the enstrom and kabat study that proved second hand smoke is an insignificant health risk to ANYONE including children.......

(Report Comment)
Mark Foecking November 2, 2010 | 9:18 a.m.

john erkle wrote:

"Within you will find a nice chart that shows that the prevalence of diabetes was tripled solely by the change in diagnostic guidlines instituted in 2003."

Medical science is always learning, and sometimes definitions of diseases need to change. Here is an article describing the changes and why they were made:

"It revealed "networks of obesity"; that is, we are all interconnected in regard to weight."

The Framingham study is one that is often derided by fat-acceptors. However, it shows something that should be fairly intuitive - that people that overeat often do it with like-minded people, just like people that drink a lot.


(Report Comment)
john erkle November 2, 2010 | 9:46 a.m.

The diagnostic guidlines were changed for a pre-concieved agenda,to further the illusion of an overtly obese society.

The same was done creating second hand smoke studies by tobacco control and now we have the Democrats taking money from the food stamp program to fund anti-obesity studies.

As the public health eugenicists move from tobacco control to obesity control,they paved the way thur the world health orginization to accomplish the task. The same way they did with the world anti-tobacco treaty written and pushed by the WHO. If a country didnt sign on they would withold world bank loans......

(Report Comment)
Mark Foecking November 2, 2010 | 9:57 a.m.

john, did you actually read the article? There are several very good reasons in there for changing the diagnostic guidelines.

I agree with you about secondhand smoke - I don't think it is the problem it is being made out to be. It takes many years of exposure to mainline (not secondhand) smoke to raise the risk of smoking associated disease, and I find it hard to believe that occasional exposure to diluted smoke is a significant health hazard.


(Report Comment)
john erkle November 2, 2010 | 10:08 a.m.

The Expert Committee recognizes an intermediate group of subjects whose glucose levels, although not meeting criteria for diabetes, are nevertheless too high to be considered altogether normal........

That right there says it all........they changed it to increase the numbers.......and it did by a factor of 300%

(Report Comment)
john erkle November 2, 2010 | 10:13 a.m.

Now if there was no radical war on obesity,I would indeed follow the line that a criteria change should be made if the evidence warranted it,but in fact the evidence didnt warrant it......

What is going on is a series of changes to basic medical facts to create a healthscare where none existed before.

To this end these supposed public health radicals are pushing,to create a world that they desire and laws to make that happen.

(Report Comment)
Mark Foecking November 2, 2010 | 11:30 a.m.

john erkle wrote:

"The Expert Committee recognizes an intermediate group of subjects whose glucose levels, although not meeting criteria for diabetes, are nevertheless too high to be considered altogether normal........

That right there says it all........they changed it to increase the numbers.......and it did by a factor of 300%"

No, that's not what it means at all. The intermediate group of subjects are not considered to have diabetes, however, their test results indicate a less-than-normal regulation and response to sugars. Since poor regulation of sugars causes diseases over the long term (as well as acutely in the case of diabetics), the committee pointed out that this group might bear attention also.

I had a marginally abnormal glucose tolerance test several years ago. I was advised to exercise and watch my weight (which I already did) and to check my fasting blood glucose twice a week for a while. Turns out it was likely a fluke, as I've never had a bad fasting stick, but since my grandfather died of diabetic complications, they were just being cautious, and I agree with them.

Are you saying that there is no obesity epidemic? You do get out in public, don't you? Americans are the fattest people on the planet, and it's associated with all sorts of health problems. Now, I know it is possible for an obese person to enjoy good health if they get a good level of exercise, but how many obese people actually do that?


(Report Comment)
john erkle November 2, 2010 | 12:37 p.m.

From Article link below:
In what appears as a fatally misguided hope of extending treatment benefits to as many citizens as possible, various professional societies as well as Government Agencies have indeed changed our definitions of disease with unforeseen consequences. Specifically, in the present climate of change driven by a perceived need to keep us healthy and long-lived, these cutoff points have been lowered progressively and so drastically as virtually to create a nation of patients.


Old Definition: Blood sugar > 140 mg/dl
People under old definition: 11.7 million
New Definition: Blood sugar > 126 mg/dl
People added under new definition: 1.7 million
Percent increase: 15%

The definition was changed in 1997 by the American Diabetes Association and WHO Expert Committee on the Diagnosis and Classification of Diabetes Mellitus.


High blood pressure is reported as two numbers, systolic or peak pressure and diastolic pressure when heart is at rest) in mm Hg.

Old Definition: cutoff Blood Pressure > 160/100
People under old definition: 38.7 million
New Definition: Blood Pressure > 140/90
People added under new definition: 13.5 million
Percent Increase: 35%

The definition was changed in 1997 by U.S. Joint National Committee on Prevention, Detection, Evaluation, and Treatment of High Blood Pressure.

Prehypertension, a new category created in 2003: blood pressure from 120/80 to 138/89 includes 45 million additional people! If one includes this category, we have a grand total of 97.2 million total numbers of hypertensives and prehypertensives (whatever that is).

High (Total) Cholesterol:

Old Definition: Cholesterol > 240 mg/dl total cholesterol
People under old definition: 49.5 million
New Definition: Cholesterol > 200 mg/dl total cholesterol
People added under new definition: 42.6 million
Percent increase: 86%

The definition was changed in 1998 by U.S. Air Force/Texas Coronary Atherosclerosis Prevention Study.


Body Mass Index (BMI) is defined as the ratio of weight (in kg) to height (in meters) squared and is an inexact measure of body fat, though it supposedly establishes cutoff points of normal weight, overweight, and obesity.

Old definition: BMI > 28 (men), BMI > 27 (women)
People under old definition: 70.6 million
New definition: BMI > 25
People added under new definition: 30.5 million
Percent Increase: 43%

The definition was changed in 1998 by U.S. National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute.

"The new definitions ultimately label 75 percent of the adult U.S. population as diseased," conclude the two researchers. They add cautiously that "...the extent to which new 'patients' would ultimately benefit from early detection and treatment of these conditions is unknown. Whether they would experience important physical or psychological harm is an open question."

(Report Comment)
john erkle November 2, 2010 | 12:47 p.m.

As you can see across the board they have changed the medical facts to fit their new agenda.........the war on obesity began ten years ago and now they are executing their war with propaganda studies.......

(Report Comment)
Mark Foecking November 2, 2010 | 1:59 p.m.

ANd we are living in an era of caution - it doesn't surprise me that they'd want to err on the side of safety when defining a condition. Liability and all that.

Exposure limits for chemicals are usually set far below a level that causes effects, and sometimes it comes out that the limits are too high even then (of course we typically don't go the other way, but we feel we can afford not to). It's the same basic thing.

And this doesn't mean they necessarily recommend all patients included under these new limits get treated. All it means is they're at perhaps somewhat greater risk for disease. Perhaps better to be warned before it gets to a point where one *has* to do something, particularly since we're talking lifestyle related conditions.

They don't recommend bariatric surgery from someone with a BMI of 28, nor do they give metformin or insulin to someone that occasionally has a fasting stick over 126. It's just a warning, not some major conspiracy.

What's wrong with the war on obesity? The lifestyle choices that cause it kill 100,000 people/year.


(Report Comment)
john erkle November 2, 2010 | 2:02 p.m.

Because it leads to laws against the free rights of the people and posted above, outlawing obese folks from eating in a restaraunt and holding the proprietor responsible.......just as crazy as the smoking bans and against every form of american ideals we were founded upon.......thats whats wong with it!

(Report Comment)
Mark Foecking November 2, 2010 | 6:21 p.m.

john erkle wrote:

"Because it leads to laws against the free rights of the people and businesses"

Except it doesn't have to. Smoking has decreased significantly in the last 20 years, and little of it is due to any ban. Social norms have simply put it in the realm of less-than-desirable activity, and a lot of smokers are sympathetic to the fact it bothers some people, I certainly was when I smoked, and I quit 13 years ago.

There's a lot to be said for not being obese, for many reasons (and I'm not talking about just a little plump). I never said I wanted to see laws passed against what you can eat. I've been saying that we should promote moderate, balanced eating and exercise as a matter of personal choice.

Real change doesn't come from force. It comes from recognizing a good idea and acting on it.


(Report Comment)
john erkle November 3, 2010 | 10:35 a.m.

smoking rates went down prior to the worldwide smoking bans comming into existence,since then smoking rates have stagnated and increased.........laws make folks say,up yours!

(Report Comment)
David Rosman November 4, 2010 | 7:10 p.m.

Good column Rose. I am certainly glad Mr. Foecking and Mr. Erkle (any relationship to... forget it)are in a strong yet fruitless conversation. Yet, I believe that all of the readers missed your main point - Parent have dropped the ball when it comes to basic education of their children concerning health, food and personal wellbeing.

I am appalled when I see children obviously obese with parents who are equally unhealthy. I am angered by those who believe that they have a right to smoke (see my column, and that a study that has been rebuked by the same journal is held up as "proof." I also have to laugh when I read comments that it is our right to be unhealthy and cost the American tax payer hundreds of millions of dollars in medical care.

These are the same men and women who demand that we have a balanced state and federal budgets but do not want to sacrifice anything in return. They seem never to remember that there is no such thing as a free lunch.

If the parents cannot or refuse to teach their children and the schools are not permitted to step in and fill the void, the kids will learn about food when they are in the hospital as 12-years old with diabetes, or have advanced lung cancer at 30 because of smoking or exposure to second hand smoke, or never learn about critical thinking, believing their own propaganda and eventually die because of their own stupidity.

Thanks for allow me to editorialize here, Rose. Keep these guys on their toes... hopefully in good shoes.


(Report Comment)
John Schultz November 4, 2010 | 9:55 p.m.

David, which journal and study are you referring to? If it is Michael Pakko's analysis of the city sales tax data in the year after the ban was enacted, I'm not aware of any work disputing his study except a couple personal attacks from those at the university. Anything from Statist I mean Stanton Glantz is immediately suspect in mind.

(Report Comment)
Marlene Bakken November 4, 2010 | 11:40 p.m.

What we need are parents fighting back against the Rose's of the world and the nanny government taking away their parental autonomy! Give it up and go away already!

(Report Comment)

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