This blog is written by a couple of pissed-off patriots who share a fierce dedication to the Constitution - the only words ever put to paper worth dying for. We exist to remind y'all that America was founded on four boxes:
The Ballot Box
The Jury Box
The Ammo Box
They should be used in that order. This is our soapbox.
To contact BG or YD, send email to:
Your humble bloghostess is proud to be the recipient of not one, but two much-coveted Golden Monkeyfist awards!True Golden Monkeyfist - 2007
Best New SoapBlox - 2008 Subscribe to "They Gave Us A Republic"
The researchers measured exposure to phthalates by looking at the children's urine. "The heaviest girls have the highest levels of phthalates metabolites in their urine," said Dr. Philip J. Landrigan, a professor of pediatrics at Mount Sinai, one of the lead researchers on the study. "It goes up as the children get heavier, but it's most evident in the heaviest kids."
This builds upon a larger Mount Sinai research effort called "Growing Up Healthy in East Harlem," which has looked at various health factors in East Harlem children over the last 10 years, including pesticides, diet and even proximity to bodegas.
About 40 percent of the children in East Harlem are considered either overweight or obese. "When we say children, I'm talking about kindergarten children, we are talking about little kids," Dr. Landrigan said. "This is a problem that begins early in life."
The study was conducted following 300 children in East Harlem and an additional 200 children from the surrounding community; and a separate group of approximately 400 girls in the same communities, in the 9-11 age range.
The findings bring an additional causative factor in childhood obesity to the fore, introducing a new variable - environmental factors - into the equation. Most people have assumed one of two positions in the debate over what has caused the increased incidence in childhood obesity. Some claim the primary reason rates are climbing is that children are less active, spending more time in front of a flickering screen instead of outside playing, and they point to crime rates in poorer neighborhoods as one reason children stay inside - sometimes it simply isn't safe to go outside. Others have focused almost exclusively on the quality of the nutrition available in poorer neighborhoods where fresh fruits and vegetables and lean meats are largely unavailable and/or cost prohibitive, as well as the switch from sucrose to high-fructose corn syrup as the sweetener in most convenience products. Those are indeed contributing factors, and these new findings do not obviate that component, but it must be viewed as of a piece, as an additional causative agent - that it isn't just the contents of the packaging, but the packaging itself that must be considered when we try to make sense of the spike in childhood obesity - and the new phenomenon of Type II diabetes (previously known as 'adult onset' diabetes) in kids.
I spent a significant portion of a 24-year career in endocrine research. In the first fifteen years, I did not see a single case of Type II in a juvenile. Toward the end, I routinely taught diabetic education counseling classes that were geared exclusively to groups of teenagers, who are not as amenable to lifestyle lectures. Each group contained between 15-30 kids. And I taught these classes in the inner city, in what was, at least at that time, the zip code with the highest per capita incidence of diabetes in the entire nation. I saw a new sea of brown faces the same ninety minutes every week for six weeks, and a new group rotated in every two weeks. That is a lot of diabetic kids. And what I can tell you anecdotally is that every single one of the things that have gotten the blame for the epidemic I have observed to exist, so this is a 'big picture' problem if ever there was one.
Diet and exercise can not be discounted, we have always had chubby kids who didn't eat a proper diet or get enough exercise, but very few were considered obese, and literally none of them were diagnosed with Type II diabetes, a disorder of the endocrine system. (The lines have so blurred over the last decade that we have renamed juvenile diabetes Type I and adult-onset Type II, because the previous labels no longer apply.)
But we can't overlook the revolution in food packaging over the last thirty years or so, either. When I was a kid, in the 60s and 70s, soda pop (which wasn't made from corn syrup back then) came in aluminum cans or glass bottles, not in plastic; and meat came in butcher paper, not polystyrene trays and plastic wrap. Nor were plastics so prevalent in our everyday life. The dairy products we buy in boxes, like yogurt, cottage cheese and sour cream, used to be packaged in waxed cardboard. Now they come in plastic tubs - that get reused, either of economic necessity or out of a green sensibility - and they frequently get microwaved. Reduce-Reuse-Recycle...isn't that the mantra? And we all know that chemical reactions occur faster at higher temperatures. (This is why you should never microwave in anything other than glass.)
The elephant in the room is a looming public health crisis that we can ill afford, and we have to tackle it now, before it is too late, if it isn't already. To effectively craft solutions to this problem, we have to look at all the variables with an unblinking eye, and one of those factors is endocrine disruptors in the environment and specifically in the food supply, both in how it is produced and how it is packaged.