Junkfood Science: Unhealthy health programs

August 29, 2008

Unhealthy health programs

Dr. Leanne Barron, a Queensland doctor, again speaks out on behalf of children being harmed by “healthy eating” campaigns and today's childhood obesity interventions.

Leanne Barron on obesity stigma

While one would assume that the schools' "healthy eating" programme would have positive effects, increasing numbers of children and teenagers are presenting to eating disorders services in Queensland with an initial history of "trying to be healthy". Last year, I had two eleven year old patients who had independently decided to give up cholesterol for their New Year's Resolutions — by August and September, they were in hospital with anorexia. Similarly, a majority of older anorexics are beginning with a "healthy eating plan"... Given that anorexia has a five year mortality rate of 20% — higher than many cancers — we need to be very cautious in blanket approaches to obesity.

The torment which children not conforming to the thin "ideal" portrayed by the media is undergoing is cruel... Our current programme is contrary to all notions of tolerance and appreciation of individual body size, and cartoons and the media are now equating "fat" with "bad".

By all means in schools we should be making available and accessible healthy foods, but we also need to teach children that eating is not bad, and that skinny is not necessarily healthy. Home baking is to be encouraged, eating the occasional take-away meal is not a problem and should not be treated as a crime. Food has a special role in society, and eating should be enjoyable. Treatment of eating disorders is extremely difficult - prevention must be paramount.

Dr. Barron put “healthy eating” in quotations for the same reasons it’s done at JFS. Why aren’t more medical professionals speaking out about the unsoundness of “healthy eating” and obesity prevention promoted in schools? Has it become so politically correct that supporting fruits and vegetables is easier than advocating for the children?

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