Wednesday morning, upon logging in, I was greeted by the juxtaposition of the following subject line messages in my inbox:
Race to Fight Childhood Obesity from the Alliance for a Healthier Generation;
Lock-In Drill from my daughter’s high school.
Where shall I start? To begin with, on Wednesdays, I am not at the Health Center, and on that particular morning, my private client needed to reschedule. So, though I receive an onslaught of topic-related information constantly, I had on that day more time than usual to slowly digest these matters that are so relevant to what I do.
Ragen’s offering attracted my attention first. I have referenced her work previously. She is a committed activist and a powerful voice in distinguishing the difference between health and weight issues, preventing fat-shaming, and, shining light on the lies and manipulations of the weight loss industry. I can always count on her to keep me informed of something meaningful. Here, I learned that Michelle Obama was planning to go on the show The Biggest Loser to thank the contestants for being role models. Ragen’s reaction was quite pointed and the story of what happened when she and filmmaker Darryl Roberts (America the Beautiful) tried to field a response to the media is quite interesting. However, it was this comment that contributed to the theme of my day.
The worst thing is that all this focus on the weight of individuals is distracting us from the systemic issue of lack of access. Many people do not have access to the healthy foods that they would choose to eat–including foods that are not genetically modified or full of hormones or government-subsidized high fructose corn syrup. Many people do not have access to safe movement options that they enjoy, or to affordable evidence-based health care. But as long as we focus on little Johnny’s BMI, we don’t have to address the real problems here and we can just keep shaming and blaming fat kids and adults and misinforming them and everyone else about the odds of becoming permanently thin.
I strongly share these sentiments and it took only a few clicks on the Alliance for a Healthier Generation’s website to confirm this dismissal of the larger issues. The articles in their In the News column included, Schools Find Active Kids Make Smarter Students and Virginia Legislation Calls for School PE Guidelines. Both are sad statements about the current state of affairs on such seemingly obvious matters. I applaud the work of the Alliance which I have discussed before in Diet for a Small Caterpillar, but I am often sad to see their amazing talents and resources going toward small, simplistic efforts to repair an intuitive intelligence that was broken by bad policymaking and vested interests disenfranchising the well-being of the citizens of the world.
I also have a visceral reaction to the term the fight against childhood obesity. Obesity is not the only consequence our children are suffering–it is just one of the manifestations of poor nutrition and the ignoring of all the ingredients that contribute to both physical and emotional well-being in early stages of development. If this were only about obesity, my daughter would not have had to, unfortunately, participate in a lock-down drill. Furthermore, fierce language is not what is needed even when details may make us wish to brandish our childhood obesity-fighting swords.
Thankfully, on that Wednesday morning, I was also fortunate to hear a really beautiful interview with Frances Moore Lappe, who has certainly had a strong influence on my own path. I will leave you with her words.
“We don’t have a shortage of food, we have a shortage of justice. As we shift to focus on our relationships with each other, and with the earth, as we align our lives and our economy with what is true about our nature and is harmonious with the wellbeing of nature, we find answers to so many of the questions we face today. Hope is not what we find in evidence, it’s what we become in action.”
So, I hope the connections make some sense and perhaps my title of this piece suggests such a shift of intention toward the task at hand.
Would love to hear from you.
In health, Elyn
My Plate Haiku
Are we what we eat
Or do we eat what we are
Are they the same thing?