Childhood Obesity: Who Is at Fault?

Crunk Feminist Collective columnist Sheri Davis-Faulkner can't stomach one more conversation in which experts shame the parents of obese children. Instead, she says, we should look at the food industry.

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Tired of the "Americans are overweight" debate? Crunk Feminist Collective contributor Sheri Davis-Faulkner is, but not for the reasons you might think. Sparked by the HBO documentary Weight of the Nation, she would prefer that analysts of the country's weight problems tackle the food industry, which is responsible for knowingly peddling unhealthy food to children, instead of blaming parents.

I am “waiting” for the nation to have a frank discussion about food production, labor, leisure, and human rights, but somehow the narrative is fixated on shaming parents into taking their children to the doctor and/or weight-loss programs to “fix” their bodies. I was waiting for at least one explanation for why Tea, the eight-year old black girl, was bigger than her classmates and seemed to be developing early. I was waiting for a discussion about hormones in milk, eggs, and meat. I was waiting for some acknowledgement of genetically modified foods (food science). But no, the solutions were framed narrowly within single-issue policy-making for stronger regulations on marketing or food or for fitness programs. In the meantime, the solution is to visit obesity clinics and research centers, and don’t forget your health insurance card or your credit card because unless you have cold hard cash these “card” industries stand to gain a lot in this weight crisis.

Nevermind the fact that many youth regardless of their size are eating similar diets of high fructose corn syrup, yellow lake 5 or 6, red lake 40, and salt. I for one am tired of doing workshops with kids where they cannot identify common fruits and vegetables, the components of a basic meal, or read the ingredients in the foods and beverages they eat daily. But I am clear that this level of illiteracy does not happen on a national level by mistake. The under-education and underdevelopment of this nation has been strategically deployed through marketing which functions as our primary public pedagogy. We used to have cooks in school kitchens, now we have underpaid servers/contingent labor forces, typically women. We had cooking classes in school and now we have extremely well paid advertising executives and recent college grad interns using all their creativity to market crap to my kid to pay their student loan debts.

Read Sheri Davis-Faulker's entire piece at Crunk Feminist Collective.

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