"I know no safe depository of the ultimate powers of the society but the people themselves; and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them, but to inform their discretion by education. This is the true corrective of abuses of constitutional power." - Thomas Jefferson 1820

"There is a growing technology of testing that permits us now to do in nanoseconds things that we shouldn't be doing at all." - Dr. Gerald Bracey author of Rotten Apples in Education

Search This Blog

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Tyranny and Tape Measures Coming Soon to a School Near You?

Will the fat police be coming to a school to you soon? They probably will be arriving soon, if they are not there already.

Who would have ever thought private companies could be regulated if they could offer a toy in a child's meal? Who would have ever thought restaurants would be regulated to the amount of transfat and salt a prepared meal could contain?

The fat police are not content to confine themselves to private industries; they also are patrolling the schools. We've written about Michelle Obama's legislative efforts for her fight in the child obesity movement. Many schools have taken out sodas from vending machines in the schools, which may not be a bad idea. But the fervor of insisting our students are denied sugary snacks to force them to eat healthy vs. teaching them and then trusting them to make good decisions are two different paths toward the same hoped for outcome: healthier children who grow into healthy adults.

Libertarians believe children should be taught about good decisions and then make decisions themselves (critical thinking); choice architects insist they know best for the children and they alone should make the choice on whether soda is offered at school or not (authoritarian school of thought). The push to ban sodas from schools has been around since the 1990's, but it is not stopping at soda machines at school.

We now see choice architects at work mandating regulations at McDonald's and restaurants in New York City. When the Longitudinal Data System is instituted pursuant to Race to the Top mandates, your child's Mass Body Index (BMI) will be measured and entered into a data base. It's been happening in Arkansas the last few years. What happens if your child is deemed as too fat? Could the choice architects fine parents if their child's BMI is too high?

The State of Arkansas explains its actions:

It is important to note that the BMI assessment's primary purpose is to alert parents to the problems of obesity by giving them a health marker. BMI is one of the few tools available to screen children and adolescents for overweight. Secondarily, this information was collected and used as a surveillance tool regarding the spread of the obesity epidemic and as a method to monitor weight trends among children throughout the state.

The intentions may be noble but there are serious constitutional concerns raised by collecting and disseminating this information to third parties. Should a child's weight be part of a data system available to unknown entities? Cato raises concerns as well in writing about the Happy Meal ban, just another extension of the soda in schools ban:

The San Francisco ban, and similar proposals on both sides of the Atlantic, are predicated upon four false assumptions: the fast food sold by McDonald's and its competitors makes kids fat; fast-food marketing causes childhood obesity; fat children grow into unhealthy adults; fat kids incur significantly higher health care costs than skinny ones.

While the article specifically targets fast food, I believe sodas have been categorized by the fat police as being as dangerous as fast food. The article goes on to debunk these assumptions and offers forth an interesting fact:

The evidence also shows that the goal of encouraging children to eat low-fat diets is not only unsupported by the evidence but also risks significant harm in terms of adverse effects on growth and nutrient intake.....The evidence-less Happy Meal ban should remind us that the entire idea of fat children is largely a cultural construct, not a scientific one. A hundred years ago, today's penchant for thin children would have been considered a shocking instance of child neglect.

The idea that children weighing over a certain amount are fat or obese has no scientific foundation, as the dividing line between fat and normal is purely arbitrary, representing nothing more than a public health bureaucrat's notion of where normal ends and fat begins.

If your state is receiving Race to the Top funding or has signed onto common core standards, tell your child to watch out for the fat police patrolling the halls at school. It used to be the ruler that was dreaded by children when their knuckles were rapped; currently it is the tape measure around their waists. Is this a violation of you and your child's civil liberties?

Thanks to a reader from the American Thinker site who left this comment:

If people let government decide what foods they eat and what medicines they take, their bodies will soon be in as sorry a state as are the souls of those who live under tyranny. – Thomas Jefferson

No comments:

Post a Comment

Keep it clean and constructive. We reserve the right to delete comments that are profane, off topic, or spam.

Site Meter