Thursday, February 6, 2014

Once a fat kid....

You try. You try so hard. You watch what you eat. You exercise. You say you can break through all the crap in your head to make the crap in your body get better....

...and then this study shows up. Turns out we're doomed from the start. DOOOOMED!! If we were fat in kindergarten, well, let's just give up trying.

Enjoy that crown, baby, because that's the only reward you'll be getting!

From the Sally L. Steinberg Collection of Doughnut Ephemera, Archives Center, National Museum of American History,  Smithsonian Institution via the Digital Public Library of America

Oh, come on, I'm kidding. First off, how can I possibly call myself a librarian and not be incredibly happy that someone actually put together a collection of doughnut ephemera

Next, this study doesn't mean that exercise and diet aren't important, but that it might be a tougher battle than we know. It does show:

"Overweight kindergartners had four times the risk of becoming obese by the age of 14 years as normal-weight kindergartners. The relative risks of obesity among overweight kindergartners, as compared with normal-weight kindergartners, were highest among children from the two highest socioeconomic groups. Thus, overweight children from the two highest socioeconomic groups had five times the risk of becoming obese as normal-weight children of similar socioeconomic status, whereas an overweight child from the lowest socioeconomic group had only 3.4 times the risk of obesity as a normal-weight child of similar socioeconomic status"

And this means that these kids were already overweight or obese by the time they began kindergarten, meaning they actually were overweight before 5 years of age. And more of them came from backgrounds where access to better food choices and amenities were available!

The discussion of the study takes additional factors into the equation beyond demographics and socioeconomic factors, such as birth weight and genetics. And yes, these definitions of obesity are based on BMI, never a perfect measure. But here's the rub and it comes from one sentence near the end of the results:

"By the time they enter kindergarten, 12.4% of American children are already obese, and 14.9% are overweight."

Yow. That's going to be one long road for these kids. I've been there. A lot of us have. I just don't remember there being so many of us around as a child. I imagined there would have been a lot of less fat bullying if more of us were supposedly obese.

But what are we doing about it? How are we making this easier for kids to be healthier? What if healthy food isn't around them? What if they can't or won't play sports? What if they're just feeding their feelings? What if it really is genetic?

Whatever it is, I don't think we can blame pre-K kids for their choices and actions that way. But it is important to make this better soon. 

Losing all this weight, even in the right mindset, was hard. Maintaining it is harder. And for all the good and healthy ways I feel now, I would have much rather not have had this extra issue hanging around my younger head.

But I also refuse to let this be an excuse to not make the effort. If this study means that my lifetime of weight issues is not over, well, I just got to keep at it. 

We can't let "fate" determine how we live, but we also need to understand that whatever we're doing now is not exactly helping our future generations.  I want kids to enjoy their doughnut royalty. I just don't want them to have to work that much harder to burn it off. 

I think I finally found my resolution for this year!


Cunningham, S. A., Kramer, M. R., & Narayan, K. M. V. (2014). Incidence of Childhood Obesity in the United States. New England Journal of Medicine, 370(5), 403–411. doi:10.1056/NEJMoa1309753


  1. The race is long, my friend, and many of us are running it together. The trick, I think, is to keep running.

    1. Very true. But sad to think there will be a whole lot more people having to join us.