Saturday, July 25, 2009

Good Research, Bad Title

Why is it that mainstream news outlets perpetually seek out the most provocative (read misogynistic, bullying, target-group hating, in this case the fatties, legally indefensible, here I'm talking about all those stories in which a man is said to have "had sex with a X age child" not "allegedly raped" an X age child--even as young as a toddler I've seen the "had sex with." It is never sex to penetrate a child, it is rape, forced or statutory, and least descriptive) titles?

My lastest example is THIS which is entitled: "Turn Off TV During Meals or Kids May Get Fat Study Says." What the study actually says is far more interesting:

Studying childhood obesity, University of Toronto nutritionist Harvey Anderson found that kids who watched TV while eating lunch took in 228 extra calories than those who ate without the television on.

"One of Anderson's conclusions is that eating while watching television overrides our ability to know when to stop eating," the Canadian Institutes for Health Research, which funded the study, said on Tuesday.

"In effect, mindless television watching produces mindless eating.... Anderson has some immediate advice for parents -- turn the television off during mealtime."

In other words TV is distracting and as we are not paying attention to what we eat, both a conscious and unconscious process of assessing satisfaction, is disrupted leading children to consume 228 more calories than they would eating at the dinner table. 228 calories is quite a bit for an adult's caloric intact, yet for a child is even more significant.

Parents, turn off the TV and eat at the table. Now, this is weight-loss industry advice #47 and for those who have a table, I would say go for it. However, we have to look at a couple of factors that might get in the way of all families realizing this daily goal: 1. You don't have a kitchen/dinner table because you live in a small apartment; 2. You work the night-shift and your child/ren are home alone, the TV is comfort/baby-sitter; 3. Readers, tell me more reasons why this might be difficult for some families.

Now, I think that eating together at the dinner table is a worthy goal and I will strive to do so once I have a family, but often stories like these are used to hit people over the head with the image of the perfect family, disparaging the families and diversity of families (like single-parent households, GBLTQ families, urban families, singles, etc.) that are reality.

So, mainstream media, give us the studies, not the lecture. Give us accurate titles, not provocation. If you don't have a dinner table, its still possible to turn off the TV in the living room. Night-shift folks with self-sat kids, I don't know what to offer, I really don't, but I would like to help by advocating for state-sponsored childcare to help you with that burden.



  1. I think that all the teen pregancy stories distort the act that created the pregancy.

    Dinner with family has been replaced to snacks in the mini van going from activity to activity.

  2. Fat kids are cute. Look at the Campbell soup kids. MMM MMM GOOD!