On one hand I read that there is an obesity epidemic that threatens our very way of life, or at least our life expectancy. Predictions abound that the “bulk” of us will be overweight in a few years. Public health experts warn that this concern is reaching down into the pediatric age group as well. This article states that “fully” one out of seven low income kids is obese. Clearly this would appear to be a public health problem.
On the other hand, there also appears to be a hunger epidemic in America. The news is replete with stories wherein children are going hungry on a daily basis. Some estimates are that one in five children is struggling with what is known as “food insecurity” (however that is defined…). Is this a true representation of the state of nutrition in our nation’s children, or does it imply something else?
Can both of these epidemics be true? I don’t pretend to be able to provide an answer to the obesity problem, but I do know that if the hunger epidemic truly exists, then federal programs such as free school lunches, SNAP (food stamps), and WIC are monumental failures. Digging into the weeds of the statistics of hunger, one finds that it is more likely that the true “hunger rate” is between one and two percent.
It is interesting that two avenues of progressive thought seem to be vying in a paradoxical battle for control or dollars. There are the forces that dutifully preach that the obesity epidemic must be curbed, and some of the means to curb it could mean dictating what may or may not be eaten or what medical care will be paid for. Then there are the opposing groups that bemoan the fact that millions of children are going to bed hungry every night, and that we must pony up for even more governmental food programs. I wonder who is going to win this one.
So which is it? Can both scenarios be true? Are too many poor kids too fat? Or are too many poor kids starving? Maybe if the fat kid would split his milkshake and Whopper with the hungry kid, then both problems would be solved…