"It is true, and thus the question of whether it is sad or happy has no meaning whatever."
Bernhard Schlink

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Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Fat Kids on Drugs in School 

Surprising no one, a SAMHSA study has found that we are a nation of druggies. Well, actually they found that at least 8.3% of us are honest when answering surveys. Data from three annual surveys of 40,000 participants indicated that about one in twelve full-time workers admitted using illegal drugs in the past month.

The highest rates being among restaurant workers, shocking no one except New York lawyers and stock brokers, who thought they were ahead as usual. The problems with surveys like this pretty much outweigh their usefulness, as far as I'm concerned. Firstly, honest reporting is a serious problem. Secondly, asking if people have used drugs gives no indication whatsoever as to whether or not they did so in a dangerous, or excessive, or other manner which caused them to be less effective members of society.

Besides being on drugs, Americans are also very often obese. Why? Well, for starters we don't get enough exercise. A CDC study found that, even though as many as 35% of kids live within a mile of school, few walk or bike. Why? Well, it might have to do with the fact that we're a lazy, car-obsessed society. More interestingly (and ironically) is that we are also a fear obsessed society. Parents and school are so afraid of anything happening to their kids (and of getting sued for it) that they don't even allow their kids to walk. (I remember a comments discussion with Karen about her kids and school a while back, but can't find it)

Parents should, of course, be more afraid of their kids being obese and getting diabetes (both things which are likely and eminently preventable) than of their kids being kidnapped, run over, or getting lost (all increasingly unlikely, unless the kid is famous and/or incredibly stupid) on the treacherous 400 meter walk home. Why, you ask?

A study from Captain Obvious' lab has found that overweight kids face severe stigma from a very early age, especially from peers but also from parents and teachers. Fat kids lives tend to suck. Fat kids are also at risk of developing diabetes, which sucks even more.

On the upside, there is evidence that vitamin D and calcium may help protect against type II diabetes. It's not clear how this works, but is a promising direction for research.

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