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Monday, April 23, 2007

Big Kids

posted by on April 23 at 9:07 AM

Wow—it seems that there’s a connection between stuffing kids with sugary crap and childhood obesity.

Stockholm schools that banned sweets, buns and soft drinks saw the number of overweight children drop by six percentage points in four years, a Karolinska Institute study published on Monday showed. The number of overweight or obese six-to-10-year-olds dropped from 22 to 16 percent in the 10 Stockholm schools that participated in the study by banning sweets and introducing healthier lunches, the Swedish research institute said in a statement.

A control group of schools that did not introduce specific food regulations saw the number of overweight or obese children rise from 18 to 21 percent.

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You mean, left to their own devices, children will choose to eat unhealthy diets based on which foods taste best to them? But if we take away their right to choose Coke or Pepsi, how will they ever understand their role in our great democratic process? What a conundrum.

Posted by flamingbanjo | April 23, 2007 9:33 AM

Kids love sugar. Sugar = empty calories.

Not sure why we keep having studies on what makes kids fat (or adults fat for that matter).

However it is interesting to see the money that schools in the US get for having soda machines and candy machines in schools. I wonder if there will ever be a time that schools can have enough money that they don't need extra money from Coke and Pepsi.

I also wonder if the schools in other countries have contracts with food companies.

Posted by Monique | April 23, 2007 9:34 AM

Anyone trying to curb a rise in videos depicting the morbidly obese being extricated from their homes via crane by trying to cure chubbiness in human grubs is no friend of mine.

Good day to you, Swedish diet fascists.

Posted by jackie treehorn | April 23, 2007 9:46 AM

Michael Pollan had a piece in yesterday's New York Times Magazine about the relationship between the Farm Bill, obesity, and poverty.

In the US, obesity is correlated with poverty, an unusual trend in the history of hunger.

The farm bill comes to congress every five years, and does not get the attention that it should from people outside of Iowa. It is really a bill in congress that determines how much taxpayers are willing to send to ADM Corp. to subsidize the production of high fructose corn syrup. The bill also leads directly to non-market influences on water quality, land use, foreclosures on small farms in an economy driven by enormous corporations.

Many of the poor people in Seattle are second or third generation removed from farm families, and it is cheaper for them to give their kids Ragu sweetened with corn syrup, then to grow tomatos on the patio of their apartments.

Posted by Michael J Swassing | April 23, 2007 10:05 AM

I think it's a bit of a fallacy to assume that there's some saturation point of money where school administrators while finally say, "OK, enough with the funding -- we've got enough." Bureaucracies don't work like that, and as long as that's the case, principals will be interested in raising funds wherever they can.

The only way to fix it would be to make them in some way accountable for the health and obesity of their students, which seems bizarre when they are having trouble meeting the basic goals to which they are currently being held semi-accountable.

Posted by MHD | April 23, 2007 10:19 AM

Bears shit in the woods.

Posted by Gomez | April 23, 2007 10:19 AM

You put garbage cans into the habitat of healthy, wild bears and wolves, and you get sick, fat dumpster divers.

The human body, along with other omnivores, has evolved to endure starvation punctuated with the occasional wooly mammoth feast.

Put a daily buffet of crap in front of us and we act like we may never get to eat again, each and every day.

Posted by RainMonkey | April 23, 2007 10:57 AM

The alien subliminal messages to fatten us up are working!!!

Posted by monkey | April 23, 2007 10:57 AM

Salt. I grew up on healthy foods, including liver and onions, and Little Joes on Broadway, by Little Italy, San Francisco makes the best Chicken liver and Ravioli dinner ever.
Anyway I preferred Salt over sweets and sugars and layed off the pop until highschool(actually I was restricted).

I'm in somewhat good shape and my metabolism is pretty high meaning when I eat , I just don't retain the weight. Could it be that Salt played a key?
And the fact that we were born in Salt water we need lots more water and salt
to stay proportioned as we grow into our genetic makeup?

Posted by DreadLion | April 23, 2007 11:01 AM

Poppycock! Rubbish! We all know the problem is fat and cholesterol! We must cling to the industry-genic dogma and propaganda of the past thirty years!

Surely sugar and carbohydrates are not at fault here!

-Minister of Information, Big Ag Company (tm)

Posted by mjg | April 23, 2007 12:06 PM


Maybe, but salt can also make you retain water. Water retention can make your metabolism slow down and eventually cause weight gain (beyond the weight gain caused by bloating). It may just come down to your natural preference for savory foods over sweets.

Posted by keshmeshi | April 23, 2007 12:21 PM

Michael J Swassing - thanks for the heads up on the Pollan piece in yesterday's New York Times. It convincingly links our nation's food policy with our increasing obesity. The farm bill makes junk food much cheaper per calorie than fruits and vegetables, encouraging the poor to eat the lousy stuff. Pollan's analysis is available on the NY Times website.

Yesterday's Seattle Times also ran a story on the farm bill, by Sam Goldfarb of Medill News Service. It's not bad, also discussing the subsidies for commodity crops such as corn and soy vs. specialty crops such as fruits and veggies. However, Pollan directly shows the links between the farm bill and our health, and his piece is more valuable reading as a result.

Posted by Ebenezer | April 23, 2007 1:02 PM

Gee, they still have to do studies that lots of crappy food makes people fat? What a waste of money. Next thing you know they will be saying smoking is bad for you.

Posted by Just Me | April 23, 2007 1:41 PM

To those who think this study was totally unnecessary: They didn't just show that by removing unhealthy food you decrease obesity - they showed that removing it from schools decreased obesity. This is actually good news because it means that a school-based change can have an influence. Obviously kids don't spend their entire life at schools. Someone could argue against eliminating junk food at schools by saying that the kids will just eat it at home, or they could say that the problem is really with bad parents (aka poor parents who work long hours and commute and don't shop at PCC). But this shows that changing school environment can decrease diversity. Of course, Stokholm is not NYC or Houston or Seattle; there may be factors that are different in the US. So I would actually say a study like this in the US would be valuable.

Posted by Jude Fawley | April 23, 2007 3:43 PM

Five bucks says the Stranger never does a story on the farm bill, the link between poverty and obesity, why school lunch spegetti has a sauce made of corn syrup flavored with tomatos, and why the grandkids of farmers have to eat all of that kind of crap they can buy with food stamps, or why rice farmers in developing countries can't afford to compete with the price of surplus rice we sell their governments on credit from World Bank loans.

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