The Happy Slave

This is my surrender to the Powers that Be, who wish we all were just happy little slaves, tooling along without a care in the world, doing what our better-educated masters tell us to do, not daring to step out of line. I'm so bad at surrender...

Location: Indianapolis, United States

I'm an old-fashioned Get-out-of-my-face-atarian. So long as the gubmint left me alone, I had no problems with it. Gubmint wants to run my life, so I'm doing something about it. (Not just blogging, either.)

Thursday, October 06, 2005

In your ear, Nanny, in your ear.

I'm certain that the popular press is going to do its best to ignore or discredit the following (I was wrong, but only slightly--one day of mention and now it's ignored.), but it seems that somebody has found a way to accurately predict the chance of obesity in children in the USA. A paper titled "Body mass index in elementary school children, metropolitan area food prices and food outlet density" recently came out in the journal Public Health. If you can't read the whole thing, I'll give you the gist of it: Some number crunchers decided to just look at a whole bunch of factors and see how they compared to the weight gain of about 7,000 kids in the USA, starting in kindergarten and going up to 3rd grade. They looked at race, family income, family education, grocery stores, convenience stores, how many fast food places were around the kids in each of their neighborhoods, and--here's the important bit--they looked at the prices of meat, dairy, fruits & vegetables, and fast food. Why's that the important bit? Here's the kicker: The following factors were found to be the most important in how much weight (measured by Body Mass Index) the kids gained. Number one was already being fat. Fat kids at four/five years old are even fatter at eight/nine. Number two was being black. Sad fact, but the numbers seem to work out that way. This might have something to do with diet for that specific sub-group, but the study wasn't quite that comprehensive. Number three was not having ignorant parents. Kids whose parents had at least bachelors degrees gained less weight than kids whose parents didn't. (Yes, Virginia, they did adjust for differences in income--there was no connection between income level and fatitude.) Factor four was being a girl. Girls gained more weight faster than did boys at that age. Number five was the first non-social group and non-genetic factor that had any serious effect. And what was number five, you might ask? The more expensive fruits and vegetables are, the fatter the kids are. Fast food, meat, and dairy prices had no significant effect. Fast food availability had no significant effect. All those blithering idiot nannies who moan and whine about how Ronald McDonald is forcing people to be fat can take a flying you-know-what at the moon! Oddly enough, this is something I've suspected for a good, long time. I've had to live on a limited income from time to time, and what's the first foodstuff that I curtail buying when money gets tight? Fresh fruit and vegetables--it's very expensive when you're worried about even being able to fill a belly at all in the first place. When the option comes down allocating money to feed the kids so they aren't ready to cry from hunger or give them so little total food that they're still begging for more, mac-and-cheese beats carrots and kale. (Chop one onion and cut two/three peeled carrots into small pieces. Wash about a pound of kale--remove the stems and cut stems into same size pieces as carrots. Cut leaves into roughly one-inch wide strips. Sautee onions, carrots, and stems in a little butter or olive oil for about five minutes. Add leaves cover pot, turn down heat. Cook until done, which depends on how crispy you like your kale. Serve with salt, black pepper, and vinegar.) Of course, I've no doubt that some nanny will come around and cook up a bunch of fake nonsense, comparing the price of boutique veggies with boutique meat, and presuming that a single perusal of their ultra-exclusive supermarket aisle is better than a four-year longitudinal study involving over 7,000 subjects, but nannies are stupid like that.