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Let’s Pick on Obese Kids

Written by Katrina Moncure Jan 07, 2010

You’d think I could read something as seemingly innocent as Scientific American without getting outraged. Until I see this:

A device that curbs speed eating could help obese children and adolescents cut the fat

Wolfing down a meal in record time can lead to more than digestive discomfort and possible acclaim in food-eating contests. Studies have warned that speed eaters can easily become overeaters, possibly because they lose track of how sated they are amidst hurried bites. Moreover, the pattern of consuming large portions of food quickly is associated with obesity in children, adolescents and adults.

Researchers in Bristol, England, sought to break this pattern in children and adolescents using a machine dubbed the Mandometer, which is designed to manage the pace of meals. The device features a computerized scale that calculates the rate of food intake and, like a hovering mother, constantly reminds the user if he or she should eat slower or faster. The device, first developed to help treat anorexia and bulimia nervosa, actually issues verbal feedback.

Oh, isn’t that just lovely? Obesity is a problem in all age groups, but when it comes to working on a solution, especially one that is as homicidally annoying as this Mandometer sounds, let’s just use it on kids and teens. It’s the same old story, that what is just annoying and a violation for adults is considered good parenting when done to someone under 18. A nice touch is that “hovering mother” comment, reinforcing the misogynistic idea that the ideal mother is nosy, obsessive, and coercive, traits that would be all kinds of abusive if committed by anyone else, regardless of intent.

At the end of the article, it even does mention it should be used for adults as well. But the study mentioned here didn’t involve adults, nor does the article title, indicating that curing adult obesity, something that is WAY more rampant than childhood or adolescent obesity, just is not important. Why the disparity?

Oh, right, almost forgot. It’s because kids and teens are below the magical age of adulthood, which of course means their bodies and health and minds are public property. So if a 16-year-old girl is obese, it’s not merely her own health issue that is up to her to deal with, but rather the job of every single adult to coerce and shame her into changing regardless of her own wishes and preferences.

Coercing and shaming her into, say, an eating disorder since we tell her that obesity is such a horrible sin… only to have her coerced and shamed still if she’s skinnier than all the “well-meaning” adults like, just like this other bit also out of the UK of adults deciding what teens’ bodies look like is such a huge priority.

Here’s a crazy thought. How about you nosy, judgmental hypocritical adults worry about your OWN health and leave the teens the hell alone?

This all reminds me of a bit from a very recent Simpsons episode. Marge is trying to eat healthier organic foods, but she hates it and gives it up, so she and Homer are both eating junk food and she tells him “We’ll just make the kids eat healthy.”

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