President Obama to Reverse Trend in Falling Child Obesity Rates

Posted by PITHOCRATES - December 29th, 2012

Week in Review

When it comes to government policies there are unintended consequences.  And then they are the ‘I don’t care what the consequences are’ as long as those policies are politically expedient (see US childhood obesity dips for first time in decades: study by AFP posted 12/27/2012 on channelnewsasia.com)

CHICAGO: Obesity rates among small children may finally be on the decline after more than tripling in the United States the past 30 years, a study out Wednesday indicated.

The study found that obesity rates peaked in 2004 and then declined slightly among low-income children aged two to four who receive benefits from a federal food stamp program called SNAP…

In an accompanying editorial, Dr. David Ludwig said the declines seen are not enough, and he urged an overhaul of the federal food stamp program (SNAP) to help low-income families tackle obesity by eliminating junk food and adding more fruit and vegetables to their diet.

“SNAP is essential for hunger prevention in the United States, but its exclusive focus on food quantity contributes to malnutrition and obesity, and is misaligned with the goal of helping beneficiaries lead healthier lives,” wrote Ludwig, who works in an obesity prevention centre at Boston Children’s Hospital…

Ludwig noted that it pays for an estimated US$4 billion in soft drinks per year, which adds up to about 20 million servings of soda a day.

“The public pays for sugary drinks, candy, and other junk foods included in SNAP benefits twice: once at the time of purchase, and later for the treatment of diet-induced disease through Medicaid and Medicare,” he wrote.

“The nation’s US$75 billion investment in SNAP could provide a major opportunity to reduce the burden of diet-related disease among low-income children and families if policies that promote nutritional quality are instituted.”

Peaked in 2004?  Why, that was when George W. Bush was president.  At least 4 years before Michelle Obama began her war on childhood obesity.  To ensure success she should consult with George W. Bush.  Who must have done something right to reverse a trend that was in the making for 30 years.  And not her husband.  Who appears to be hell-bent on making children obese again.

One of the major causes of childhood obesity has been the federal food stamp program.  Which President Obama has expanded like no other president.  Even earning himself the moniker ‘The Food Stamp President’.  Guess he doesn’t like kids.  Well, not all kids.  Just the poor ones.  Who he is helping to a life of diet-induced disease.

So the president may be sacrificing another generation of children to heart disease, diabetes and all those other diet-induced diseases.  Why?  Well, like Bill O’Reilly said, to give the people stuff.  So they will vote for him.  Which he has.  And our poor children will pay the ultimate price with poor health.  While we pick up the cost for their extensive and costly medical care.

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Somalis now have Hope even though they Skip Meals to Make Ends Meet

Posted by PITHOCRATES - October 20th, 2012

Week in Review

Life in Somalia has been exceptionally hard.  Sadly, it’s a recurring theme in some African nations.  Who are ruled more by the gun than the law.  And during near constant warfare there has been little chance for the Rule of Law and capitalism to take root and flourish.  To develop a middle class where people can go to work while their kids go to school.  And then come home at the end of their day to share a family meal and pursue some family activities.  Or simply watch television in the peace and comfort of their living rooms.  Things we take for granted in nations under the Rule of Law and capitalism.  Now there is another change of political leadership in Somalia.  And people are returning home after years of exile.  People have hope.  Even if they have to skip meals to help make ends meet (see Somalis ‘free’ but have no food, water by SARA MOJTEHEDZADEH posted 10/13/2012 on The East African).

But as confidence marks a new era of political leadership in Somalia, experts are warning that over two million Somalis continue to survive on a knife edge.

According to a recent study by Oxfam, many regions of Somalia are confronting severe food and water shortfalls as a result of poor rains.

The survey of 1,800 households found that 72 per cent were worried about their food supply in coming months as a result of this year’s poor “Gu” rains — the season between April and June that supplies Somalia with the rainfall vital for its September harvest. Nearly half of those surveyed habitually skipped meals to make ends meet…

“Any further shocks without proper assistance could take Somalia back to previous conditions, but that’s very unlikely now due to weakening anti-government forces and as more and more areas come under the control of the current government,” said Tamara Nanitashvili, the acting head of FSNAU…

“Many of those who have been displaced or who lost everything during the famine and conflict and want to return will need to be assisted to resume their farming or herding. Greater security can help tremendously to achieve these things,” she said.

In America the Democrats have attacked Mitt Romney about his ‘47%’ remark.  Saying that he believes nearly have the population are just lazy people living off of government benefits.  (Which he didn’t mean.  What he meant was that it was going to be virtually impossible to get people receiving government benefits to vote for the guy NOT promising to increase them.  As once people receive some benefit they are not happy to lose it.  As demonstrated throughout Europe with all of those austerity riots.)  That he would cut these benefits.  Hurting the people that need them most.  While at the same time President Obama’s wife is leading a drive to fight childhood obesity.  And attacking fat people in general.  The mayor of New York City has restricted the size of sodas people can buy because we are too fat.  Our health care costs are out of control because people are too fat.  Yet we need more government benefits, not fewer.  Because people would starve without them.  Even though we have an obesity problem.  Unlike the Somalis.  Who have to skip meals to make ends meet.

So on the one hand we are too fat.  While on the other we’re going to bed hungry.  Which is what we call a paradox.  Because both statements cannot be true.  If we are too fat then we can’t be going to bed hungry.  And if we’re going to bed hungry we can’t be too fat.  If both statements cannot be true then the political left must be lying about one of them.

In Somalia there is no paradox.  They’re going to bed hungry.  Because they’re skipping meals to make ends meet.  And because they are skipping meals they don’t have an obesity problem.  Somalis know true poverty.  And true hunger.  They would probably love to have the chance to suffer hunger the way they do in America.  For at least they could go to bed without the gnawing hunger in their stomachs.

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Obese Girls in the UK add to the Budget Problems of the already Cash-Strapped NHS

Posted by PITHOCRATES - September 2nd, 2012

Week in Review

I’m sure they hear the same arguments in the UK as they hear in the US.  That we have to increase government spending on nutritional programs for the poor.  Especially poor children.  Because no child should go to bed hungry.  Yet at the same time the Mayor of New York City wants to limit the size of pop you can buy in a theater or from a street vendor because our kids are too fat.  And the First Lady of the United States wants kids to eat vegetables instead of food that tastes good because our kids are too fat.  So some in government are arguing both sides of the same issue to generate more government control and more government revenue.

In the UK they have even another metric to measure childhood obesity by.  And it’s a really sad one (see As obesity soars, girls of 11 are being given breast reduction surgery on NHS by Daniel Martin posted 8/27/2012 on the Daily Mail).

Girls as young as 11 are having breast reduction operations on the Health Service, figures show.

More than 100 girls aged 16 and under have had the surgery in the past five years after suffering severe back pain.

Health experts say some cases could be because children now tend to be significantly heavier than a few years ago, putting more pressure on their backs…

The surgery will cost the taxpayer some £5,000 a time, and critics will argue that the cash-strapped NHS should not be paying for such procedures when those with cancer and other serious conditions are not getting the drugs they need…

Over the past five years, 21,328 women of all ages have had breast reduction operations on the NHS. In the latest year for which figures are available, 2010/11, the total was 4,212 – almost 12 every day.

Clearly in advanced countries many of our kids are not going to bed hungry.  It is a sad benefit of an advanced country.  We can make food so plentiful, inexpensive and tasty that our poor have obesity problems.  I’m not sure what the economic circumstances are with the girls in the linked article but if they live in the UK chances are their families are paying a lot of taxes to support their welfare state so the odds are good they are not from a rich family.  Besides, if they were rich they’d probably pay top-dollar to treat their daughters in a private facility.  But that’s neither here nor there.  What’s particularly interesting in this story is the economics of it.

At current exchange rates £5,000 is about $7,935 US.  So those 4,212 surgeries in 2011 cost the taxpayers $33.4 million dollars.  Sounds like a lot until you realize the NHS annual budget is approximately $166.6 billion (see Figure A.1: Department of Health CSR settlement 2007 – announced opening position).  So these surgeries are only 0.02% of the NHS budget.  Which just staggers the mind.  But this to be expected when a national health care service pays for everything for everyone.  It’s incredibly expensive.

When the US passed their own version of national health care, Obamacare, the Democrats sent misleading budgetary information to the Congressional Budget Office.  Such as including tax revenue for ten years while including benefits for only six years.  Transferred some $716 billion out of Medicare.  And other accounting shenanigans.  So when the CBO scored Obamacare it came in at $940 billion over ten years.  Which was less than $1 trillion.  The magic number.  Because it would make Obamacare less costly than the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.  But when you look at the budget of the NHS you just know they’re playing fast and loose with their numbers.

The US has approximately 5 times the population of the UK.  So they would have approximately 5 times the patients in Obamacare than they have in the NHS.  And approximately five times the cost of the NHS.  So if you multiply the NHS annual budget by five you get a likely cost of Obamacare for one year.  $833.1 billion.  Only slightly less than the original CBO scoring of Obamacare for a ten year period.  Multiplying this out over ten years brings it up to $8.3 trillion.  Making the original CBO score light by 886,256%.  An enormous mistake.  Or misrepresentation.  Of what it will cost to give everything to everyone.

If they don’t repeal Obamacare there won’t be any money left to prevent children from going to bed hungry.  But there should be a corresponding reduction in other health care expenses.  As hungry children won’t have an obesity problem.

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Kids are Fat in Canada, Too

Posted by PITHOCRATES - June 10th, 2012

Week in Review

Kids aren’t obese only in America.  They’re obese in Canada, too (see N.S. to spend $2M to combat childhood obesity posted 6/7/2012 on CBC News).

The Nova Scotia government will spend about $2 million over the next year to help reduce childhood obesity and associated health problems…

“Nova Scotia is dealing with epidemic levels of childhood obesity, inactivity and unhealthy eating,” said Premier Darrell Dexter.

Their plan includes a “healthy start with a focus on breastfeeding.”  They’ll educate kids about nutrition and exercise.  Make healthy food and exercise readily available.  And spend money on trails, sidewalks and facilities to get these kids off of their fat asses.  Interestingly, there is no mention of a 16 ounce limit on sugary beverages.  New York’s Mayor Bloomberg’s proposal to combat child obesity.  Though one could make the argument that breast milk is not a sugary beverage.

So if it’s not the soda pop making these kids fat what is it?

Among the surveyed Grade 3 students, about 80 per cent of both boys and girls met the physical activity standard on five or more days per week. By Grade 11, that number dropped significantly — about five per cent for boys and less than one per cent for girls.

Thompson blames electronic devices and poor attitudes for the problem.

Guess that would be cell phones.  Smartphones.  Computers.  Tablets.  And, of course, video games.  It appears that kids prefer gossiping and playing video/on-line games over physical activity.  Or they’re just so narcissistic that they have to share every thought and minute detail of their lives with their social network.  Which is just a more sophisticated way of saying “look at me, look at me, look at me.”  So they spend their passing hours with their electronic devices.  Instead of going biking or dancing they’d rather simulate that activity.  Gossip about a friend.  Or be the center of the universe.  All while getting fat in the process.

You know, it just may not be those large cups of sugary beverages causing our obesity problem.  It may be something else.  Wise words from the past come to mind.  From the wisest of wise.  The Oompa Loompas. 

Oompa, Loompa, doom-pa-dee-do
I have a perfect puzzle for you
Oompa, Loompa, doom-pa-dee-dee
If you are wise, you’ll listen to me

What do you get when you guzzle down sweets?
Eating as much as an elephant eats
What are you at getting terribly fat?
What do you think will come of that?

I don’t like the look of it

Who do you blame when your kid is a brat?
Pampered and spoiled like a Siamese cat
Blaming the kids is a lie and a shame
You know exactly who’s to blame

The mother and the father

Those little orange bastards were wise.  Even if they were only characters in a movie.  Then again it’s hard to parent these days.  There are so many outside influences.  And because of the high cost of living these days it often takes two incomes to raise a child.  Leaving our kids without parental supervision for a few extra hours each workday.  Where they are more likely to pick up bad habits.  Perhaps we should be looking at that.  Why does it take two incomes these days to raise a family?  High taxes and inflation.  Both have shrunk real earnings so much that a single income can’t raise a family like it did before.  It was LBJ’s Great Society spending in the Sixties that caused the massive inflation of the Seventies.  And parenting in the US has never been the same since. 

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