Bundle of Contradictions

This phrase, which happens to be the name of a new diabetes blog by Nic (welcome her here!), lodged squarely in my mind this morning as I read reaction to the latest NY Times article on diabetesNytimes_food_article (children and diets). WtF? After that hard-hitting series in this very same publication by N.R. Kleinfeld, we’ve suddenly got an experienced NYT health writer waving a dismissive hand at all the “hysterical rhetoric” about children and diabetes.

The writer, Harriet Brown, presents an argument against overpolicing unhealthy foods in our schools. Here’s what my insightful (blog) friend Violet has to say:

Part of the argument is that (policing foods) doesn’t work. The other part is that the “obesity epidemic” isn’t truly supported by science as far as kids are concerned, and that the discussions of kids getting type 2 in larger numbers are also not supported by enough reliable studies to be called an “epidemic.” There’s mention of an ADA presentation on the subject that claimed that a third of kids diagnosed with type 2 in the study were later proven to have type 1 instead. We’re taking all this too seriously, the writer seems to say. (She does, to her credit, have a clear understanding of
the relationship between lifestyle & the two types of diabetes.)

I was quite surprised to read these claims in the same
newspaper that’s been working … to highlight the issues of adult diabetes in New York. The
writer has contributed many articles to the NYT health section but is not,
as far as I know, a diabetes expert. Yet she’s made some rather sweeping
claims to the effect that our kids aren’t at particular risk for type 2;
we’re restricting their food at school because we’re obsessed with body
image as a culture.

On the other hand, her point that depriving kids of all pleasurable foods in the school setting is unlikely to be effective does resonate with me somewhat. The concept of moderation is lost entirely, and it seems logical that kids will not learn austere habits at school and then carry them through to home. They’ll just try to eat more yummy junk foods at home instead of at school. Some type of balanced approach to teach kids how to enjoy food without harming themselves seems necessary. But dimming the alarm bells on diabetes hardly seems like a good strategy for helping kids.

Bravo, Violet! I totally agree that the media tends to be “all over the map” on the diabetes issue.

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2 Responses

  1. Violet
    Violet June 2, 2006 at 12:31 pm | | Reply

    Thanks, Amy. I should add, though, that I don’t have enough knowledge of the kids/Type 2 issues to comment knowingly on the author’s analysis. It just struck me as very surprising.

    If anyone out there can refute or support the points made in this article, I’d be quite curious to hear more. Thanks.

  2. anon
    anon June 2, 2006 at 8:40 pm | | Reply

    Dear DM

    I honestly am conflicted about the article. There is some good advice- get kids outside playing, give them more time to eat, etc…

    I hang out with lots of little people. The littler they are the more time they need to eat, but this often is not respected. A child with diabetes MUST be monitored as to dietary intake- who is supposed to do this? I wish it mandatory that kids got time, got help and were given healthy food. Lunchables every day suck. I have kids who bring nothing but garbage, and others who bring wonderful lunches, and others who bring nothing. It is always a balance, and when there are kids who NEED time and attention and teaching it is important to do so.

    The diabetes part of the article was quite small. The issue of allergies was quite small. All in all it was about sensibility- something a lot of people with children or in charge of children seem to lack. Use your brains people- kids need to know that food is important, can be celebretory and can be fraught with “issues”– that is her message, I think. I think there are more heavy kids, I don’t think we are doing our kids any good by not cooking and eating out all the time, and the epidemic of obesity and diabetes need to be seriously looked at to see if these are correct usages of words or if they are just fear mongering.

    That show HONEY WE ARE KILLING THE KIDS is a perfect example of lazy and inept parenting. And really good scare tactics. DO people seriously not know that crap in equals crap out? I thought that was a law of physics or something. No an expert needs to come and help. SHe is reacting against the experts who are micromanaging the larger population and the like.

    I could ber wrong………

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