Smart. Sharp. Funny. Fearless.

Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

By Karen Kaplan, Los Angeles Times

New government data suggest a nonmedical cause of America’s childhood obesity crisis: denial.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 48 percent of obese boys and 36 percent of obese girls think their weight is “about right.” Among kids and teens who were merely overweight, 81 percent of boys and 71 percent of girls also judged their weight to be “about right.”

Those figures are based on interviews with American children who were between the ages of 8 and 15 during the years 2005 through 2012. As part of the CDC’s ongoing National Health and Nutritional Examination Survey, they had their height and weight measured and they answered questions from interviewers. Among them: “Do you consider yourself now to be fat or overweight, too thin or about the right weight?”

Overall, 30.2 percent of the kids gave an answer that wasn’t in line with their actual body mass index, according to the report from the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics. That corresponds to about 9.1 million American kids who have the wrong idea about their weight status.

Roughly 20 percent of these kids had a healthy weight but mistakenly thought they were either too thin or too fat. But the overwhelming majority were low-balling their weight.

Boys were more likely than girls to think their extra pounds were normal, the CDC researchers found. In addition, Mexican American kids were more likely to suffer from “weight status misperception” compared with African-Americans, who in turn were more likely to have it than white kids. The prevalences for the three groups were 34.4 percent, 34 percent. and 27.7 percent, respectively. (Figures for Asian Americans weren’t reported.)

Children between the ages of 8 and 11 were more likely to get their weight status wrong (33 percent) than kids between the ages of 12 and 15 (27 percent). Also, the higher a child’s family income, the less likely he or she was to have the wrong idea about his or her body weight.

All of this matters because overweight and obese kids aren’t likely to slim down if they think their weight is just fine. Kids who are overweight or obese are likely to carry those extra pounds with them into adulthood, leading to a host of health problems that add up to $19,000 in extra medical costs over a lifetime.

“Understanding the prevalence of weight status misperception among U.S. children and adolescents may help inform public health interventions,” the CDC researchers wrote.

By definition almost all kids — those between the 5th percentile to just under the 85th percentile — are considered to have a “healthy weight.” Only kids with a BMI that puts them at or above the 85th percentile to just under the 95th percentile are officially “overweight,” and those at or above the 95th percentile are classified as “obese.” In addition, kids below the 5th percentile are considered “underweight.”

(For adults, people with a BMI between 18.5 and 24.9 are considered “normal,” people between 25 and 29.9 are “overweight,” people above 30 are “obese” and people below 18.5 are “underweight. You can use the NIH’s online calculator to learn yours: http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/guidelines/obesity/BMI/bmicalc.htm.)

Researchers documented a similar problem in adults back in 2010, though they called it “body size misperception” in a study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

Parents can also be wrong about the weight status of their kids. A 2012 study in the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine reported that about two-thirds of low-income mothers incorrectly believed their toddlers were too small.

Last month, researchers from the University of California, San Diego, and Brown University reported that 31 percent of parents whose children were being treated in a hospital obesity clinic thought their kids’ health was “excellent” or “very good.” That study was published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

Photo: USDAGov via Flickr

Interested in health news? Sign up for our daily email newsletter!

Many Democrats are getting nervous about the upcoming presidential election. Ominous, extensively reported articles by two of the best in the business—the New Yorker's Jeffrey Toobin and The Atlantic's Barton Gellman—outline Boss Trump's plot to keep control of the White House in 2021 no matter how the American people vote.
Trump is hardly making a secret of it. He's pointedly refused to commit to "a peaceful transfer of power."

"Well, we're going to have to see what happens," is how he answered the question. He added that after we "get rid of the ballots"—presumably mail-in ballots he's been whining about for weeks--"there won't be a transfer, frankly. There'll be a continuation."

Of course, Trump himself has always voted by mail, but then brazen hypocrisy is his standard operating mode. If you haven't noticed, he also lies a lot. Without prevaricating, boasting, and bitching, he'd be mute. And even then, he'd still have Twitter. He recently tweeted that the winner "may NEVER BE ACCURATELY DETERMINED" because mail-in ballots make it a "RIGGED ELECTION in waiting."
Gellman gets this part exactly right in The Atlantic: "Let us not hedge about one thing. Donald Trump may win or lose, but he will never concede. Not under any circumstance. Not during the Interregnum and not afterward. If compelled in the end to vacate his office, Trump will insist from exile, as long as he draws breath, that the contest was rigged.
"Trump's invincible commitment to this stance will be the most important fact about the coming Interregnum. It will deform the proceedings from beginning to end. We have not experienced anything like it before."
No, we haven't. However, it's important to remember that Trump makes threats and promises almost daily that never happen. Remember that gigantic border wall Mexico was going to pay for? Trump has built exactly five miles of the fool thing, leaving roughly two thousand to go.
His brilliant cheaper, better health care plan? Non-existent.
On Labor Day, Boss Trump boasted of his unparalleled success in strong-arming Japan into building new auto-manufacturing plants. "They're being built in Ohio, they're being built in South Carolina, North Carolina, they're being built all over and expanded at a level that we've never seen before."
Not a word of that is true. Two new plants, one German, another Swedish have opened in South Carolina, but construction began before Trump took office. Auto industry investment during Barack Obama's second term far exceeded Trump's. His version is sheer make-believe.
But back to the GOP scheme to steal the election.
First, it's clear that even Trump understands that he has virtually no chance of winning the national popular vote. He's been polling in the low 40s, with no sign of change. To have any chance of prevailing in the Electoral College, he's got to do the electoral equivalent of drawing to an inside straight all over again—winning a half-dozen so-called battleground states where he defeated Hillary Clinton in 2016 by the narrowest of margins.
At this writing, that looks highly unlikely. The latest polling in must-win Pennsylvania, for example, shows Trump trailing Joe Biden by nine points. That's a landslide. Trump's down ten in Wisconsin, eight in Michigan. And so on.
So spare me the screeching emails in ALL CAPS, OK? Polls were actually quite accurate in 2016. Trump narrowly defeated the odds. It can happen. But he's in far worse shape this time. Furthermore, early voting turnout is very high, with Democrats outnumbering Republicans two to one.
Hence, The Atlantic reports, "Trump's state and national legal teams are already laying the groundwork for post-election maneuvers that would circumvent the results of the vote count in battleground states."
The plan is clear. Because more Democrats than Republicans are choosing mail-in voting during the COVID pandemic, Trump hopes to prevent those ballots from being counted. Assuming he'll have a narrow "swing state" lead on election night, he'll declare victory and start filing lawsuits. "The red mirage," some Democrats call it.
"As a result," Toobin writes, "the aftermath of the 2020 election has the potential to make 2000 look like a mere skirmish." With Trump in the White House urging armed militias to take to the street.
Mail-in votes take a long time to count. Things could definitely get crazy.
True, but filing a lawsuit to halt a Florida recount was one thing. Filing suits against a half dozen states to prevent votes from being counted at all is quite another. Public reaction would be strong. Also, winning such lawsuits requires serious evidence of fraud. Trumpian bluster ain't evidence.
The Atlantic reports that GOP-controlled state legislatures are thinking about sending Trumpist delegations to the Electoral College regardless of the popular vote winner—theoretically constitutional but currently illegal.
Fat chance. If that's the best they've got, they've got nothing.
Anyway, here's the answer: Vote early, and in person*.

[Editor's note: In some states, receiving an absentee ballot means that a voter can no longer vote in person* or may have to surrender the absentee ballot, including the envelope in which it arrived, at their polling place. Please check with your local election authorities.]