Enough With the Fat Hatred: Many U.S. Kids Are Obese Because They Go Hungry
This post first appeared on Shakesville. Tom Colicchio already had me at kitchen feminism, and now he's just spoiling me:
More recently, my wife [filmmaker Lori Silverbush] started mentoring a young girl from Brooklyn and she would come to the house and she would eat and then she'd say "Oh, I'm full. Can I bring this home?" And we realized what she was doing; she was bringing it home for her siblings. When food stamps run out halfway through the month, these kids are hungry. And they're fed sweetened juice water, just to put something in their stomach; it's not nice. …We had a Major General who testified that forty percent of new recruits going into the service fail out because they're obese. It's not from overfeeding. This is what people don't understand: obesity is a symptom of poverty. It's not a lifestyle choice where people are just eating and not exercising. It's because kids - and this is the problem with school lunch right now - are getting sugar, fat, empty calories - lots of calories - but no nutrition. …And they're hungry, they're eating more cheap food.They're hungry. In 2005, 12% of USians, 35 million people, were unable to put food on their tables for at least part of the year, and 11 million of them reported going hungry at times. It's only gotten worse, as joblessness has become more widespread and unemployment benefits run out. Access to nutrient-rich food is a class issue even in the best of times, and these are not the best of times. The "war on obesity" is largely a class war, and the more we uncritically repeat narratives about laziness and lifestyle and pretend the primary solution to all childhood obesity in particular is increased activity, the more profoundly obscured is this simple fact: They're hungry. (Which is to say nothing of the other issues we may be obscuring.) Thanks to Chef Tom for the ray of light.