Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Signposts to Sanity

An occasional feature where your lovin' Granny points you at somebody else's really good stuff, and today it's about size.

Sandy Szwarc at Junkfood Science, tells us that "An article in New Scientist magazine accuses fat people of causing global warming and killing polar bears:" in Blame Fat People.
In fact, among the many disconnects in the reasoning in the New Scientist piece, one comes from Roberts' own research! He and colleagues in London previously published a study on inner-city children in the UK, for example, that found most children (69%) walked to school and only 26% travelled by car, but it was the poorer children who walked more than the richer kids. “Attendance at a private school, family car ownership and longer distances to travel to school were the principal determinants of car travel,” he and colleagues said. In another 2003 report on pedestrian safety and overcrowded roads, he also said: “Poor kids walk much more than rich kids, who tend to spend a lot of time in the car.”

Yet it’s poorer children who tend to be fatter.
And speaking of size, AlterNet.org's, Joshua Holland looks at Are You One of The Shrinking Americans? It seems that we are no longer the tallest industrialized country in the world, indeed we are now shorter than the residence of all Western European countries.
The United States also has far more concentrated wealth than any of its European allies. That means that while we are, on average, one of the wealthiest countries in the world, we also lead all the advanced economies in poverty. Poverty limits access to both healthcare and good nutrition.

More importantly in terms of average height is childhood poverty. Here, the United States stands alone among the advanced economies with a stunning figure: eighteen percent of American children -- almost one in five -- live in poverty. No other industrialized country comes close -- it's about five times the child poverty rate in Northern Europe. Again, nutrition and access to healthcare both vary with family income for children just as they do in adults.
The key finding of the study is is not that we are shrinking in absolute terms, it's that we're falling behind relative to our wealthy cousins. Europeans have grown in height as much as the rise in their average incomes during the 20th century would predict; Americans have not.

And it's not just height. Among the 20 most developed countries in the world, the United States is now dead last in life expectancy at birth, but leads the pack in infant mortality -- forty percent higher than the runner-up -- and in the percentage of the population that will die before reaching 60.
"those countries with higher social expenditures -- as a percentage of gross domestic product, or GDP -- have dramatically lower poverty rates among children."
"[T]he political economy of the health-care system, education, transfers to the poor, and government policy toward equality (hence taxation policy) all matter" in determining average height, say the researchers.

These are policy matters that are usually understood as ideological, as left-right issues. In one sense they certainly are, but they're also questions of gearing public policy to the long- or the short-term, and we seem to prefer short-term approaches. Investing in our children's health and well-being may not pay off in terms of lower taxes next quarter or next year, but it might allow them to walk a bit taller a generation or two down the line.
Over at Big Fat Blog, there is an article looking at size and public policy from a different angle, New Zealand Doctors to Fat Immigrants: Stay Out
In a stunning display of discrimination, doctors in New Zealand are promoting the idea of screening immigrants for their weight and smoking habits. The reason? Lots of unhealthy people are putting a burden on the healthcare system there and since a lot of people there are also fat, they're getting a bad rep.

And let us end with this wonderful production of Joy Nash -- Fat Rant. How I wish that I had known what she knows when I was her age. I could have saved myself so much grief.

I have to say, that when she found the double 0 in the dress rack, I was amazed. I thought a 0 was as small as they could go. And, she has a blog of her own these days, called, oddly enough, Fat Rant. And meantime, "choose two thin parents."


Rain said...

I loved that video. she is gorgeous. I always have been able to see that in other overweight women but when it comes to myself, it's harder. We are in a culture that is so conditioned to being skinny-- one way or another.

J at www.jellyjules.com said...

Very cool little video. I'm not surprised they make a 00...what else would the tiny people wear? I guess a zero in petites, would be more what you'd expect. I know I was a zero for about 10 minutes once, and there were PLENTY of women smaller than me at my work..mostly asian women, who probably had to shop in petites or kids section.

I LOVED what she had to say about accepting yourself as you are, and not putting things off until you lose weight. That's a great message for anyone to hear.

Bitty said...

Thank you so much for posting that video!!!!! It is brilliant.