If you wanted to teach that the world was created in seven days in a public school classroom all you would have to do is ask the schools to teach it and provide them with the ‘educational’ materials to present. It’s win-win, because the cash-strapped public school system gets much needed already prepared instructional materials, while the subject matter preparers get to spread their message to pliable little minds–they even get to call it ‘science’. The only fly in the ointment is the Federal court system which won’t allow religion to be taught in public schools. Apparently, because the Bill of Rights does not allow the establishment of religion, calling creation ‘science’ does not convert into something other than religious mythology.
Unfortunately there is nothing in the Bill of Rights that protects science itself. If there were, then there would be a way to keep pseudoscience where food is concerned from being taught as science in our public schools.
“Energy Balance 101” is a course that is being provided nationwide to elementary schools that purports to teach kids how to balance their food eating with a sufficient amount of exercise so that they don’t become an obesity statistic. Food industry gets to spread the ‘fact’ that there is no difference between any kind of food that matters. According to Energy Balance 101, all that matters is calories. No junk food, because you can eat nothing but cookies all day long every day of the week as long as you run and jump and play enough to ‘burn all that energy off’. Its the simple, and simple-minded, concept of calories in, calories out.
Links to this program, if you were to Google them, come from sources as varied as the PTA, “Together Counts“–an industry funded group, Boy Scouts, Girls Scouts, and in hundreds of other places where help for public education may be found.
Mother Jones Magazine details the practice of industry groups providing ‘educational materials’ to help kids and families decide what to eat to combat the obesity epidemic.
Together Counts isn’t the only energy balance campaign supported by junk food companies. Earlier this year, Coca-Cola came under scrutiny after the New York Timesrevealed that the company had provided $1.5 million in seed funding to start the Global Energy Balance Network, a think tank that downplays the role of sodas in causing the obesity epidemic. Just yesterday, GEBN announced it was disbanding “due to resource limitations.” Last week, Coca-Cola science and health officer Rhona Applebaum, who helped establish GEBN, stepped down.
The basic message is that if you eat 21 carrots its no different than a chocolate chip cookie. All of that energy can just be worked off by riding your bike for half an hour. This, of course, is pseudoscience. Look at the expanding waistline of America and shudder at the prospect of another thirty years of fighting it with ‘energy balance’.
A few thoughts:
Kids don’t make diet decisions. We feed them what we think they should eat. They don’t cook, they don’t shop, they don’t even decide when to eat. This curriculum is to train us, the shoppers, cookers, teachers. They want you to think that ‘authorities’ have decided that there is no such thing as junk food. You can go ahead and keep buying sugary breakfast cereals, yogurts, drinks for you kids. All you have to do is make them play outside, make them shoot baskets for half an hour and they will never gain weight. Unfortunately there is a lot of science that says otherwise. Drink two Cokes a day (or full glasses of fruit juice) and there are not enough waking hours to ‘burn’ that energy, if you eat anything else that day. It’s even worse for a sixty pound eight year old.
They want you to think that a calorie is a calorie is a calorie. Except there is such a thing as junk food, and calories are not all the same. Try putting candle wax in your car’s gas tank. Just calories, right? Well, your body treats different chemicals differently also. Glucose is one kind of food energy, it comes from a french fry, for instance. All of your cells can use glucose. Fructose, found in the Coke, fruit juice, or 8 out of 10 processed foods, cannot be processed by anything but your liver, and the fat it makes is stored very near your organs. It is visceral fat, and is the kind that is a symptom of diet related illness like diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure and non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH). Glucose can be burned in the instant, but if you eat a lot of them then a lot of that must also be converted into fat. Once converted to fat it is not so easy to get back out. A calorie is a calorie, but all foods are not the same. Some are junk and should not be given to kids.
A 2013 study by Lustig and his colleagues examined data on food availability and diabetes prevalence across the world, and found that while eating an extra 150 calories per day wasn’t associated with an increase in diabetes, eating an extra 150 calories of sugar per day was correlated with an elevenfold increase in diabetes rates. A similar concept applies to fats. Unsaturated fats—the kind in olive oil, fish, and avocado—reduce the risk of heart disease, while saturated fats—like those in burgers and fries—do the opposite.
I’ll point out here that the saturated fats that they call out as related to heart disease are not the same saturated fats that I use in my home kitchen. McDonalds uses man-made fats like Crisco made of soy and when heated up these fats change into trans-fats–the same fats recently banned for their relationship to heart disease. I use natural fats like lard from pork and tallow from beef. These fats are from animals that ate their natural diets, not feed from corn and soy. Eating natural saturated fats, lard, tallow, butter, coconut oil are not related to damaged heart health, but just the opposite. I do have actual scientific proof of these statements, and they can be found all through the history of this blog.
Long story, I know. If you are still here I’d tell that you don’t really need to worry about what you kids are being taught. You do need to watch out for what your kids are trying to teach you, though. Don’t let them convince you that its just fine to eat processed foods because you can work them off. Don’t let them talk you into eating and drinking sugar even more than you always do because a calorie is just a calorie.
If you are a teacher or in the PTA or a scoutmaster don’t take the bait and start teaching this pseudoscience to impressionable minds in your care. Take care to just eat real food, and teach your little charges to just eat real food. It’s natures plan.