An essayist in the New York Times takes aim at government efforts to alter children's eating habits with rules on what and how much food may be sold and served in schools. Arkansas gets a mention.
In Arkansas, for instance, children's report cards now include their B.M.I., or body mass index, along with their grades. The governor, Mike Huckabee recently lost more than 100 pounds and is passionate about stopping the "obesity epidemic." Maryland is considering a similar standard.
Never mind that B.M.I. is only a measure of height against weight and does not take into account muscle mass, body type or other factors. (Tom Cruise has a B.M.I. of 31, which puts him in the "obese" category.)
"You're setting kids up to feel bad about how they are," says Dr. Nancy Krebs, chairwoman of the American Academy of Pediatrics' Committee on Nutrition and an associate professor of medicine at the University of Colorado.
Such efforts usually fail, making weight problems and eating disorders worse. A recent Internet discussion board among families with anorexic and bulimic children identified middle school health classes, which focus on weight, as the No. 1 trigger for their teenagers' disorders.
The food wars are being fueled by our emotionally fraught relationships with food, and by increasingly hysterical rhetoric.