On childhood obesity, acting and not acting are both choices

In two prior posts, I’ve agreed with influential blogger Morgan Downey that the proposal in Puerto Rico to fine the parents of obese children is a bad idea, and that the food environment has a great deal to do with the globesity crisis.

But I balked at the implication that parents don’t have primary responsibility for obese children. I wouldn’t have said so before 5 or 10 years ago — because I didn’t get it — but now it’s clear: incorporating fitness and nutrition into children’s worldview is a basic ingredient of child protection.

If fines aren’t the right tack, though, what can be done collectively? I usually fail, but I’ll try to be brief. Clearly, the basic choices are to act or not to act.

Of course you oppose child exploitation. Right?

I’ve been reading the excellent report, “Kids Unbranded,” created by the Center for the New American Dream, and hope you will too. It does a wonderful job both stating the problems created by commercial exploitation of children and offering tactics that individuals can use to fight that exploitation.

Tell Nickelodeon to bar junk-food marketing to kids

I've written several times that marketing to children is a particularly low form of commercial behavior, made worse than it intrinsically is because it is so completely, so blithely accepted — to the point that such marketing is tax deductible.

Good guidance for parents worried about obesity

The Stop Obesity Alliance has a guide for parents wanting to help their children who've developed or may be developing an eating problem. I think it is worthwhile, and recommend it to you, both for reading and sharing.

Role-modeling begins at home

In a previous post, I waded into the lives of Wisconsin news reader Jennifer Livingston and the unkind words addressed to her by a viewer, Kenneth Krause. As I said then, my inclination was to skip by it because I am constitutionally averse to the predictable, and my impression was that this was that.

But the more I considered, I realized that Livingston’s on-air retort, and the groundswell of support for her, were obscuring issues that were better off aired.

Tax dollars underwrite junk-food marketing to kids

Ask anyone, and “protecting our kids” is one of our highest values — we have child endangerment laws, and even well into their teens, we ignore their “consent” for some behaviors because we don’t think they’re old enough to know better.

But we only worry about intrusions on their bodies, not their minds.

Program connects kids and food

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Scant blogging lately as I give attention to other things. It's just temporary.

But in the meantime, here's my latest Globe story on food from a sustainability perspective, or is it sustainability from a food perspective?

Yes, the Globe story is one of the "other things" I've been giving my attention to.

Food revolution in Concord

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I wrote about food in the Concord schools (and Concord Carlisle High School) for the Boston Globe in a story published this morning. Led by Alden Cadwell, a top adviser to Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution when the show made its splash in Huntington, W.Va., the district has a goal of making all food from scratch within five years, and sourcing at least 30 percent of its ingredients from local farms within that same window.

Who needs our protection?

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A question that keeps recurring: Why are the free-speech rights of corporations more important than our shared imperative to protect children?

No rights are absolute, as exemplified by falsely shouting "fire" in a crowded theater, as expressed by Oliver Wendell Holmes in a 1919 Supreme Court case. In the larger sense, there are very few absolutes in a world colored in shades of gray, anyway.


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