Sunday, June 17, 2012

Bloomberg off with the fairies

Bloomberg arrogance doesn't need facts

 Most children and youth who consume soft drinks and other sweetened beverages, such as fruit punch and lemonade, are not at any higher risk for obesity than their peers who drink healthy beverages, says a new study published in the October issue of Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism. The study examined the relationship between beverage intake patterns of Canadian children and their risk for obesity and found sweetened beverage intake to be a risk factor only in boys aged 6-11.

"We found sweetened drinks to be dominant beverages during childhood, but saw no consistent association between beverage intake patterns and overweight and obesity," says lead author Susan J. Whiting. "Food and beverage habits are formed early in life and are often maintained into adulthood. Overconsumption of sweetened beverages may put some children at increased risk for overweight and obesity. Indeed, boys aged 6-11 years who consumed mostly soft drinks were shown to be at increased risk for overweight and obesity as compared with those who drank a more moderate beverage pattern."

The authors determined beverage consumption patterns among Canadian children aged 2-18 years using cluster analysis where sociodemographics, ethnicity, household income, and food security were significantly different across the clusters. Data were divided into different age and gender groups and beverage preferences were studied. For this study the sweetened, low-nutrient beverages, categorized according to Canada's Food Guide, consisted of fruit-flavoured beverages, beverages with less than 100% fruit juice, lemonades, regular soft drinks, and sweetened coffees or teas.

The authors found the main predictors of childhood obesity in Canadian children were household income, ethnicity, and household food security.

The study "Beverage patterns among Canadian children and relationship to overweight and obesity" appears in the October issue of Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism.


Martha Payne isn’t the only schoolkid who has fallen victim to Britain's school-dinners authoritarianism

By Brendan O'Neill

How lovely that the Twitterati has come out in support of Martha Payne, the nine-year-old girl whose school-dinners blog, “Never Seconds”, was temporarily banned by Argyll and Bute council. Little Miss Payne has been taking photos of her school dinners every day for two months, and posting them online with comments about how unappealing they were. And in an era when officialdom and commentators are obsessed with what schoolkids eat during their lunchbreaks, as if it makes a blind bit of difference to their future fortunes, her blog became an internet sensation. Her local council, not best pleased by the adverse publicity and clearly possessed of a bizarre authoritarian streak, decided to ban the blog. The ban has now been overturned, after tweeters and celebs correctly pointed out that it was wrong and rotten for a council to censor a child’s after-school blogging. Good work, Twitterati.

But what a shame that these decent folks’ opposition to council heavy-handedness in relation to school lunches is so spectacularly partial. What a shame, for example, that they haven’t offered solidarity to those millions of children who have been banned from bringing sweets and crisps into schools, which, as I once reported for the BBC, has given rise to a black market in junk food in school playgrounds. What a shame they didn’t speak out when councils, behaving like a Tuckshop Taliban, stormed into schools and shut down tuckshops and vending machines that sold chocolate or Coke. What a shame they didn’t have anything to say when mothers in Yorkshire who passed chips through the schoolgates to their children were slated in the media and depicted as Viz-style “Fat Slags” in The Sun. What a shame they didn’t complain when it was revealed that some schools are taking it upon themselves to raid children’s lunchboxes – made for them by their parents! – in order to confiscate anything “unhealthy”.

What a shame, in other words, that only one kind of authoritarianism in relation to school dinners is criticised – namely that which censors people from revealing how crap such dinners are – while other forms of authoritarianism, which control both what children can eat and even what their parents can provide them with, are tolerated. Like stern headmasters, it seems concerned hacks will only give their nod of approval to nice, polite, healthy schoolchildren, while withholding it from the rabble, from kids who eat chips and cake with the blessing of their stupid parents. Those kids, it seems, can be censored and censured and controlled as much as is necessary.


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