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July 07, 2006

More Harm From Political Correctness

Greg Crosby's written another of his usual winners, this one on political correctness in the obese children's arena.

...The way things are done now is tantamount to living in denial. Officials are so afraid of hurting the feelings of kids that they refuse to call their problem by its correct name — obesity. The overly delicate approach adopted by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (and used by many doctors) avoids the word "obese" because of the stigma. So a kid who really is obese is simply called "overweight" by the CDC. A kid who is really overweight is called "at risk of overweight." Don't want to hurt the sensibilities of the little butterballs.

In my case, I was generally pretty thin until I was into my late twenties, when the indulgences of a "wine, women and song" lifestyle began to catch up with me. Even today, at fifty, I'm somewhat heavier than I'd like to be or than is healthy for me to be, and to that end I've enlisted the help of Matt Furey's Combat Conditioning, the best exercise regimen I've yet encountered, which is based on using your own body weight as your exercise machine and which is helping me take off pounds and feel better overall, but that's another story entirely.

Back on topic, when I was a lad, as Crosby points out as his own experience as well, there was none of this feel-good PC stuff a certain segment of our society has forced on the rest of us -- if you were fat, you were told so in no uncertain terms, and that was good. Sure, it might well have hurt the feelings, for some reason, of kids who already had to know they were fat, coming into daily contact as they did with other children who weren't fat, but it was also the best encouragement on earth to do something to remedy the situation, like eat less sweets and get more exercise. As an adult, I have met numerous acquaintances from my childhood days I hardly recognized because being called "fatty" et al finally got to them enough that they did something about it and were now in great shape.

Stroking them with neutral PC terminology doesn't cut it, and rarely if ever will. I call attention to a quote in Greg Crosby's OpEd,

According to Dr. Reginald Washington, a Denver pediatrician and co-chair of an American Academy of Pediatrics obesity task force, calling a child obese might "run the risk of making them angry, making the family angry,"

Instead of becoming angry, the family {In addition to the child subject of the diagnosis, I take this to mean the parents of same} should disconnect the kid from the tube, the X-Box or the computer and send him out for some exercise, refrain from over-feeding the child and counsel him/her regarding moderation during those supersized stops at the local fast food franchise after school. They should work at cultivating an interest on the part of the obese child in participating in competitive sports. Additional biproducts of a child's being physically fit are that it generally helps bring up his or her school grades while augmenting the development of baggage-free social skills.

This is a really relevant OpEd, what I'd call recommended reading, and can be read in its entirety here.

Posted by Seth at July 7, 2006 08:26 AM


Ah, life was simpler before the PC crowd started mucking things up. It was so much easier to remember my father's term for being "at risk overwieght". Oh, the term? Lard-ass.

Posted by: Old Soldier at July 7, 2006 10:07 AM

Oh, the term? Lard-ass.


That term used today would be more conducive to encouraging exercise and moderation in an effort to avoid its repeated application, than "at risk overweight" or whatever other PC goodies they can come up with.

Posted by: Seth at July 7, 2006 10:38 AM

Seth, I'll fill you in on more details via e-mail, but I have returned to the blog comment world, though I need to be more disciplined with the time I spend that I was before...

I agree with Mr Crosby's skewering of the PC outbreak concerning childhood obesity, although I do think he understates the amount of harm that ridicule can have. However, PC is not the solution to self-esteem issues -- rather, the solution is to deal forthrightly with the truth.

In your second block quote, regarding Dr. Washington, by leaving out the rest of his quoted statement, you inadvertently gave a 180-degree wrong impression as to his position. Your excerpt gives the impression that Dr. Washington subscribes to PC. In fact he is really one of the guys wearing white hats; he is diametrically against obesity PC and attacks the conspiracy of silence regarding obesity.

The full quote in the article ran as follows: (bold is added for emphasis)

According to Dr. Reginald Washington, a Denver pediatrician and co-chair of an American Academy of Pediatrics obesity task force, calling a child obese might "run the risk of making them angry, making the family angry," but it addresses a serious issue head-on.

"If that same person came into your office and had cancer, or was anemic, or had an ear infection, would we be having the same conversation?" Dr. Washington asks. "There are a thousand reasons why this obesity epidemic is so out of control, and one of them is no one wants to talk about it."

I really appreciate your bringing the article and this issue our the attention. Where I live, I continually see in the flesh the consequence of the childhood obesity epidemic. Denial is not an option.

Posted by: civil truth at July 7, 2006 11:04 PM

Hey, CT!

I realized Dr. Washington's POV, my purpose of including just that portion in my block quote was to make a point of what he was alluding to -- that the PC factor exists in the childhood obesity "arena" and its rationale by the practitioners of political correctness.

I count on readers to follow the links and read the entire articles, and give them thought as you do.

When I was a kid, when the only technological home entertainment venues we had were channels 2,4,5,7,9,11 and 13, most of us were outside all day, playing "tag", basketball, climbing trees, playing little league baseball, handball, stick ball or Pop Warner football, swimming, hiking, camping and generally running amok. Granted, we weren't even a little bit disciplined in the dietary area, but we got enough exercise to burn off the calories and then some.

A too large percentage of today's children have a wide menu of high tech "reasons to stay home" and parents who indulge the sedentary habits they develop. In addition, their childhoods are considerably less childlike than they were half a century ago, due to economics and a lot of social change. A perceived insult shouldn't cause nearly as much emotional damage to a kid today as it might have to one in the 1960s. But I never saw that back then. The blunt approach was almost always the best motivator.

A worse scenario is a kid growing up fat and as a result, being excluded from a lot of social activities, sports and... getting dates when he/she hits adolescence. Those things would create a lot more baggage for them to carry into adulthood.

Posted by: Seth at July 8, 2006 01:01 AM

Too much concern for self-esteem and for sensitive feelings.

Obesity in children will lead to an adulthood with a host of medical problems down the line, including diabetes and coronary-artery disease.

When I see children at the pool nowadays, I am amazed at the lack of muscle tone, even in children who are not overweight. They need to get off the couch!

Posted by: Always On Watch at July 8, 2006 12:17 PM

Greetings, AOW --

It seems the more we advance technologically, the less people tend to do. I was never as enraptured by the broadcast TV we had when I was a kid as I am by computers and the Internet, onto which I was only dragged, kicking and screaming, a little under five years ago.

I can just imagine what it's like for a child growing up surrounded by high-tech games, DirecTV and computers. That kid needs to be dragged kicking and screaming away from it, LOL, and compelled to get some exercise.

Posted by: Seth at July 8, 2006 02:20 PM