Skinny boys. Now there is a group that could use some love. Skinny boys usually, though not always, start out as skinny little kids and stay that way into their teens and young adulthood. You see them everywhere. In spite of this obesity epidemic, these poor boys far outnumber the fat kids everyone is clamoring about, but still, they get no attention.
It was not too long ago that skinny boys had their pants buckled up under their armpits for the protection of their private parts or they were required to wear corny suspenders. Nowadays, it is quite common for their pants to fall below the level of their BVDs even with the use of securing devices like belts and drawstrings–so they are often walking around with their undies showing. How embarrassing. If they do have a belt, they have to force a homemade hole into the leather or hemp, whatever, and the non-buckle end goes wrapping around them like a snake, in order to fit.
Then, their ribs stick out something terrible. Even nicely developed abdominal six-packs cannot cover up those ribs. Ouch. It must be hard for them to sleep–their bones jabbing into even soft forgiving mattresses. When they walk down the street, even strangers like Italian and Jewish grandmothers, are apt to want to take them home and feed them. What is up? Are their parents not feeding them?
Despite these emotional and physical challenges, there are no programs, whatsoever, designed to help them. There is no foundation for the Prevention of Adolescent Scrawniness, nor a Let”s Chill! initiative coming from the White House. Teachers, mothers, and fathers everywhere need assistance in just getting these kids to sit still. Instead, they are flying off concrete ramps on skateboards, incessantly shooting basketballs, playing guitars and drums with manic enthusiasm, and turning everyday household items into objects d’sport. TVs, video games and writing angst-ridden poetry are the only way to get these kids to stay in one place for any decent amount of time.
One might assume that these skinny boys, when they do eat, are eating carrot sticks and turkey rolled in lettuce leaves. How else could they be so skinny? But, what’s that? They are eating sugar and junk food just like those fat kids? How can that be?
A few months ago, I saw two teen-aged skinny boys walking. One of them carried a two-liter bottle of Mountain Dew, the other a big box of Cap’n Crunch cereal. I say carried, but it was more like they were cradling these products like a young child might cuddle their favorite stuffed animal. As there had been rumors circulating wildly that the Cap’n might be retiring from the high seas as well as from supermarket shelves, their procured box might have generated even additional testosterone excitement and the desperate attachment for the two.
And, just the other day, as I was doing my usual investigative journalism in the local supermarket, I came upon two young, lanky, twenty-somethings crouched down in the cereal aisle, doing some serious nutrition label and ingredient reading. I was touched. After serious deliberation, they stood up and strode confidently away–a box of Frosted Flakes in hand.
Liquid, syrupy, intense, colored sugar, seems to be the lifeblood of skinny boys as coffee is to adults. As many rational grown-ups swear that they cannot survive without their daily Joe, keeping the skinny boys from their sugar would be akin to blood-letting. How else would they thrive? With their powerful internal engines burning high and hot enough to power a jet plane, what else could better serve as jet fuel?
So, that is where skinny boys are at a serious disadvantage in this whole weight war. We direct a societal finger-wagging at fat kids and their parents, preaching of the pain and woe that awaits them should they continue their wanton eating behaviors–but no one has given these skinny kids even a glimpse of what could just as easily be in store for them–that even their propelled metabolisms could be headed for a serious nosedive.
Because, when those adolescent male hormones finally begin to mellow out, even the best of the metabolically privileged, can find themselves in trouble. Tushies sink deeper into the couch in front of the TV, remote glued to hand; the zillion hours of organized sport become a thing of the past once that diploma is received and such play at best becomes an occasional weekend past time; all the pints of beer downed in solidarity or solitude accumulate in the expanding bladder of the belly and a gut begins to cover those once nicely sculpted abs; and the stress and worry of the real world turn acquired food from active fuel into evil, disease-producing stored fat. Excessive sugar intake is detrimental to everyone, and, I have never seen Mt. Dew, do a body good. A pair of true skinny genes or a life pursuit that includes significant physical activity or hard labor are required to stave off the accumulation of pounds in this current climate.
Whereas only 12.7 percent of 15-24-year-old males are obese as defined by Body Mass Index, (BMI), 22.2 percent of 25-34-year-olds fit that classification. That could be a pretty big shock for the unsuspecting ten percent who suddenly find themselves in the holes at the other end of their belts. Their husky elementary school classmates, once the brunt of jokes, have been way better prepared for their impending corpulence and may, in fact, get the last laugh.
Essentially, we need to provide all our children with the template of the basics of a healthy lifestyle and to have a society that ensures fundamental support so they can take better care of themselves throughout their lives.
So be kind to the thinnest amongst us. They have a hard road ahead of them. Chances are, you were once a skinny boy too. The next time you see a skinny boy, hold the judgment, give them a big hug and a prayer for a healthy life–but remember to be gentle, for they are pretty fragile creatures.
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In health, Elyn
My Plate Haiku
Smooth peanut butter
Spread on a peeled banana
Snack time perfection. by Gretchen