Friday, March 16, 2007

Hmmm....Turns Out I'm Right

Today's article says something that I've suspected for years, but always assumed I was wrong about. Apparently, a child's level of activity has little to do with obesity.

I first thought of this because I hated phys-ed. (It turns out I make most of my decisions the way most people make their decisions. I decide things based on non-rational reasons, then I find the logic and evidence to back up what I've already decided. This fools me into thinking I make decisions based on rational reasons. You probably do it too. And a lot more than you may think.) I complained to my friend "Why do we have to take phys-ed?" He said "So we don't get fat."

At the time I was too young to realize how much nonsense this was. We had phys-ed two or three times a week for an hour and twenty minutes. Once you count for time to change, and stand there listening to the teacher telling you what to do, team-picking time, etc. you're down to 50 minutes to an hour of actual activity time. So, that works out to 2.5 to 3 hours per week of forced physical activity time. Not all of that time will be used to run around and be active. There will still be a lot of standing around.

Ask anyone who's tried to loose weight by purely exercising. That is not enough. Plus, there were enough fat kids in the class to refute his claim. Furthermore, I was only forced to take phys-ed until grade 9. So, from grades 10 through 12 I didn't take one phys-ed class. When I graduated from high school I weighed 120 lbs. By my friend's logic, I should have gotten fat. (BTW: In the second semester of grade 12 I ate a slice of pizza and drank a can of pop (non-diet) almost every day.)

Furthermore, my participation in phys-ed wasn't exactly stellar. When playing basketball I tried to put as many people between me and the ball as possible. I tried to stay away from the basket so I wouldn't be passed the ball. When playing badminton I would play with the kid in the wheelchair. And he would usually win. I remember being body-checked in soccer-baseball. I was a pretty small kid, so I got picked on a bit. Plus I was a really annoying nerd, so I got picked on lots. Mea culpa though.

So I didn't exactly get many rewards out of phys-ed. And my heart breaks when I hear the bureaucrats saying "We'll combat obesity by making our kids take more phys-ed." I think of all the younger versions of me. That's the sort of thing that would have made me want to drop out of high school. (For those who have known me in my post-high school time, you may think of me as being studious and keen on school. I wasn't that way in high school.) I hear this plan and know it won't fix anything! Furthermore, this seems like something parents should be taking more responsibility for.

Besides, if kids want to be active, they will be without the school making them. If kids don't want to be active, the school can't really make them. They'll do just enough to pass and get by.

So, how do we get our kids to be thin and healthy?

The article says that they found diet to be more influencing on obesity than activity.
Good diet is paramount. Genetics also help. (That's how I stay[ed] thin.)

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