Do Overweight Kids Need Pills?
Damn, right they need diet pills. They're busy all day stuffing their little gullets while drilling down on their fav media feed. Don't even talk to me about going outside. They can barely waddle out the front door.
Honestly, I think Bill Burr should be appointed the new HUD Children's Well-being Czar. If this doesn't offend you, maybe you need to look for an alternative news source. Honestly, I'm trying my best here!
Do Overweight Kids Need Pills?
The American Academy of Pediatrics says so, blaming the problem not on personal behavior and government programs but ‘structural racism.’
Allysia Finley, WSJ
Jan. 15, 2023 3:05 pm ET
Childhood obesity rates have been climbing since the 1970s, but kids have never packed on as many pounds as quickly as they did during Covid shutdowns. According to one study, the share of 5- to 11-year-olds classified as obese ballooned by nearly 40% between March 2020 and January 2021. About 1 in every 4 kids by the end of the study was considered obese.
Enter the American Academy of Pediatrics. The AAP last week recommended weight-loss drugs and bariatric surgery for obese adolescents and teens. Such interventions are supposed to be a last resort, but medicating children has become the go-to solution for common problems like anxiety and impulse control.
Nobody disputes that childhood obesity is a serious problem. It can cause diabetes, hypertension and other health problems later in life. Obese children are also three times as likely to be hospitalized from Covid—another reason it was destructive to shut down schools, children’s sports and playgrounds.
Decades ago, kids trudged to and from school, bicycled and roller-bladed around the neighborhood, and played pickup basketball in the park. In recent decades they’ve spent more time indoors, staring at screens and gorging on sugar-laden food. It’s no surprise that obesity rates have quadrupled since the 1970s.
The AAP seeks to minimize the role of personal behavior in causing obesity, which it asserts has “complex genetic, physiologic, socioeconomic, and environmental contributors.” That’s true as far as it goes. Some people who have won the genetic lottery are naturally thin while others have to work harder to keep off extra pounds. Junk food is usually cheaper than healthier fare.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the prevalence of obesity is nearly twice as high in children from low- and middle-income households as in higher-income ones. Obesity rates are on average 5 to 7 percentage points higher among Hispanic and black children than white ones. The AAP blames these disparities on “structural racism.”
Government has tried and failed to reduce such disparities through various structures. Liberals have pushed to boost food-stamp benefits in the hope that the poor would use the extra money to buy healthier food. By and large, they didn’t. As food-stamp benefits tripled in size over two decades, Americans got larger. One study found that the diets of low-income Americans who didn’t receive food stamps improved significantly more than those who did. Liberals have pressed to expand government health coverage, so now about half of children are covered by public insurance. That hasn’t made kids healthier, either.
If the government gives people more money for food, many will simply spend it on junk. Liberals oppose restricting food-stamp purchases for unhealthy foods such as soda or candy, and many libertarians also don’t like the idea of government dictating how poor people can spend transfer payments.
Public schools don’t teach physical education or health any better than they do math or reading. Students score as poorly on physical fitness as they do in other subjects. Schools no doubt would reply that kids spend only six hours a day in their walls, and parents have the responsibility to make sure they don’t scarf down pizza and Cheetos the rest of the time. Still, why don’t schools and healthcare providers do more to educate parents and kids about nutrition and the dangers of obesity?
Perhaps because they worry about getting accused of racism or fat-shaming. The AAP warns that “there is a danger of stigmatizing children with obesity and their families on the basis of race or ethnicity.” It can also be difficult to change a child’s personal behavior. For doctors, it’s easier to write a prescription. And for parents, it’s easier to accept one.
This is why attention deficit hyperactivity disorder diagnoses and medications for children, especially boys, have soared. The criteria for diagnosing ADHD have expanded to cover children who merely struggle to control their emotions or don’t meet their academic potential. Some 10% of children have been diagnosed with ADHD and 60% of them take drugs.
The AAP recommends that healthcare providers first refer parents of young children diagnosed with ADHD for behavior training, which can work as well as medications like Adderall and Ritalin without the harmful side effects. Yet children diagnosed with ADHD are twice as likely to be treated exclusively with drugs than with behavioral therapy.
Drugs have likewise become a first recourse for dealing with maudlin and anxious teens. Antidepressant use among teens increased by nearly 40% between 2015 and 2019. The unfortunate reality is that medicating children too often becomes the first resort when it should be the last. That will soon be true of obesity too.