Fat kids.

If you keep your ear to the ground, you probably know there’s a new set of recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics regarding childhood obesity. These are sometimes called “startling,” and they are – the doctors are now recommending medication for obese children as young as 2, and surgery, bariatric surgery, for children 13 and up. In between is a mix of meds and behavior modification classes, which no one really has much faith in.

I’ve now listened to two podcasts on the subject, and I was struck by one thing in particular. Gina Kolata, the New York Times health reporter, referred to obesity as something a child “has,” rather than something he or she is. So: “If your child has obesity, they’re 45 percent more likely to…,” etc. It struck me as one of those language things that seem to be decreed by a memo that I never get, as when we stopped saying people committed suicide and instead say “died by suicide,” or we no longer say “slave,” but “enslaved person.” It’s part of the thinking that makes us consider obesity as a disease, and not a character flaw.

Anyway, that’s just one thing, and not what this is about. A statistic flew by early in this discussion that didn’t surprise me: About 20 percent of American children are obese. You can see it with your own eyes, particularly if you live in the places where the rate is probably far higher, i.e. the American south. In my year-end cleaning/purging, I came across some photos of my grade-school classes. Here’s one, third grade:

To my eye, there’s one fat kid in that group, and she wasn’t that fat, just kinda plump. I just looked her up on Facebook and she’s about the same (which is to say, she’s about like me, still in Misses sizes but a M/L for sure). Side note: 26 kids in that class, with one teacher. And yet we learned, and the school was excellent, and still is. Look at that stonework; they don’t make ’em like that anymore.

Nowadays, even in an affluent area, you’d see at least five. And somehow, the causes for this, which are myriad and diverse, weren’t even mentioned.

Don’t say it’s sugar. We all ate sugar, pure cane sugar, on everything. Pour a bowl of cereal? Sprinkle a teaspoon of sugar before you pour the milk. A favorite snack in my house was something my mom called “garden bread,” i.e., a slice of buttered white bread with, yep, a teaspoon of sugar on top. We ate potato chips, whole milk, all of it. Salads? If you like iceberg lettuce with Good Seasons Italian on it, maybe, and who likes that? By contrast, today’s groceries are cornucopia of unbelievable goodness, to my eye. Avocados, piles of pre-washed and ready-to-eat fresh greens, once-unheard-of exotic fruits and vegetables, and we’re only in the produce aisle. The rest of the store – just an ordinary Kroger, not a Whole Foods or anything like that – offers healthy foodstuffs the richest pashas of antiquity can only dream of.

A friend once pointed out the oranges and lemons in still life paintings by old masters: “That was a treasure. Think how far that orange had to travel to make it to Belgium or the Netherlands in 16-something. No wonder they wanted to capture it in art.”

I don’t have the answer to why kids are consuming far more calories than they can burn in a day, because I suspect it’s not one answer. When we go to Europe, and this was especially true in Spain, I was struck by all the children out playing in the after-school hours. They’re in every square, kicking soccer balls around, climbing on anything climbable. I’m sure some of them have video games, but they’re not playing them while the sun is out. Some of them must have phones, but they’re not staring at them, or taking a million selfies, or keeping up with their favorite influencers. And hardly any of them were fat. Presumably they eat the jamon and queso Spain is so famous for, which isn’t diet food.

I suspect the problem is a cornucopia as rich as the one in the grocery store, and it is filled with 20-ounce soft drinks; single-serving bags of snacks that were once .75 ounces and are now 1.5, yes video games; yes suburbs with a culture that encourages kids to have “play dates” and not just play; yes urban areas where parents fear to let their children roam, justifiably or not; fast-food restaurants where portions keep growing and growing, pushed by economies of scale; and, well, the list goes on. In other words, good old American capitalism-driven trends that we dare not even mention, much less criticize or shape policy to discourage.

I mean, even the dinner plates I got for my wedding in 1993 are 15 percent bigger than the ’50s-era fine china my mother gave me when they downsized.

If we really want to help kids not be fat, we don’t start with medication, let alone bariatric surgery. But it’s a crisis now, and this is what we look like.

OK, rant over. The weekend awaits. What’s on your agenda?

(Oh, and that’s me, top row, second from right.)

Posted at 9:26 am in Current events |

68 responses to “Fat kids.”

  1. basset said on January 27, 2023 at 9:45 am

    First task for me will be driving halfway across the city to pick up some processed film. Hardly shoot any these days unless I want to do something artsy, Tri-X is around $13 a roll these days with processing and scanning about the same. Finally got a really good film camera, though, and I do enjoy using it.

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  2. Heather said on January 27, 2023 at 9:52 am

    I think it is specifically the form of sugar: corn syrup. It’s in so many foods. Although the evidence is mixed, there is a rough correlation with rising rates and when the food and beverage industry started using it so heavily.

    But yes, less time, room, and encouragement for kids to run around are surely factors as well.

    I’m fighting my own fight over here–have gained about 15 lbs over the last 10-12 years. Some of that is probably muscle from adding strength training to my exercise mix, but not all of it. Came to a head recently now that I can’t fit into some of my pants. I don’t want to buy a bunch of new clothes so…more exercise and less food it is.

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  3. Little Bird said on January 27, 2023 at 10:01 am

    My grade school put two grades together per classroom (not counting kindergarten) there was one girl in my grade who became fat. We’re still friends, and she is still kinda fat. But there are a LOT of other issues going on with her. Specifically some developmental issues, and probably autism. A lot of autistic people (being one of them I choose how I want to word it) have gut issues, which I strongly suspect she has. She was pretty active as a kid, we used to roam the neighborhoods where she lived and went to nearby playgrounds. But by high school she was over 200lbs. I was by far the skinny kid at school and didn’t really get overweight until my 30s.

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  4. Jenine said on January 27, 2023 at 10:05 am

    I think there’s something environmental at work.

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  5. Mark P said on January 27, 2023 at 10:10 am

    Irrelevant to the point, but those old elementary school class photos make me wonder if we really are living in a simulation with a limited number of non-player characters. If you told me this was my own 3rd grade class photo I could probably convince myself that I recognized most of those kids.

    Fat kids? Yeah, that’s a hard problem. Is there a pill for that?

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  6. nancy said on January 27, 2023 at 10:20 am

    When I reported on this a few years back, I talked to former Michiganians (top-10 fat state) who now live in Colorado (skinniest state). They spoke a lot about a culture of the outdoors in Colorado — smaller houses, more parks, more sun, lots of recreational opportunities that encourage everyone to spend more time outside. However, the health officials there said Colorado was fattening like everywhere else, mainly driven by low-income and Latino population groups, which were leading the curve.

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  7. Deborah said on January 27, 2023 at 10:54 am

    What you eat, how you eat, when you eat, all add up. When I was a kid I was painfully thin, kids made fun of me for it in grade school. I didn’t break 100 lbs until I started college and by then I was almost 5’9″. One time when I was in about 3rd grade and was taken to the Dr for a sore throat or something, the Dr scolded my mother for my being so thin. As I’ve said before my mother was a lousy cook and we didn’t have money for snack foods. Eating was a chore. It was rare when my folks got Coke and then my sister and I got to split an 8oz bottle from time to time, so soda wasn’t around for us. We played outside all the time if it wasn’t dark or during school hours, often up and down the street for blocks and blocks. My sister wasn’t as thin as I was and now she has a weight problem. Anyway, food is everywhere you look, it’s cheesy, creamy, meaty, salty, crispy, sweet, abundant, highly processed. The chip aisle and the soda aisle in grocery stores is mind boggling. It’s not a mystery why there are more obese kids now.

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  8. 4dbirds said on January 27, 2023 at 11:00 am

    I have no answer for the issue of fat kids. I have been both fat and underweight. My fat period was, I feel, the direct result of a pregnancy after 35. I couldn’t shed the weight after that. I tried and tried and remained obese until my second oldest son died. Then I spend hours on the elliptical in the gym. It was my way of working out the grief. I didn’t realize how long I spent on it each day until another gym goer pointed it out. I also didn’t eat much after he died. I became officially underweight. 5’7″ and 118 pounds. Everyone, family and friends all badgered me about being thin. Funny how they didn’t badger me for being fat. Ten years past, I think I’ve figured it out. I don’t eat more than 1500 calories there about and exercise a bit every day.

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  9. Jeff Borden said on January 27, 2023 at 11:56 am

    I’m glad to see someone mentioning the impact of income on food supplies. When you’re balancing on a knife’s edge to pay all your bills and still feed a family, rice, beans and pasta and other starches are staples for stretching those dollars. Fresh fruits and vegetables may simply cost too much. I recall back in the gloomy years under St. Ronald of Reagan, when some right-wing jag off disputed the notion that many Americans were suffering from hunger by pointing out how many poor people were overweight. (Apparently, they never saw photos of starving kids with distended bellies in poverty-stricken nations overseas.) More proof: Whole Foods opened a store in Englewood, one of the poorest and most crime-ridden neighborhood in Chicago, to great fanfare. Even the mayor turned out for the grand opening. Now, the store is shuttered and a crummy operator named Sam-a-Lot is taking over to the dismay of the largely black population in the neighborhood. Apparently, Whole Foods couldn’t produce a profit (I’ll leave it to others to ponder why a gazillionaire like Jeff Bezos, who owns Whole Foods, couldn’t afford to operate it at a loss since it was such an anomaly in a food desert.)

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  10. Pam said on January 27, 2023 at 12:20 pm

    Nancy, when we were young, there was one thing that was hardly ever in the house and that was soda or pop as they say here. I see kids drinking sweetened drinks from an alarmingly early age. (Hi-C in the baby bottle, yes, I’ve seen it) Water? Blink, blink -what’s that? Are you crazy? Many adults walk around with big gulp drinks all day long.

    And, I get crazy angry at the store when I might want one six pack of soda and I can only buy it if I don’t mind paying more for just 1 than for 4 six packs. Kroger used to stock mini bottles of soda, but not recently. Plus, the mini bottles cost more than the largest ones.

    While soda is not the only reason kids are fat, IMHO it is the leading contender. And the marketing philosophy for how it’s sold has been adopted by all the other makers of high caloric foods. Chips are always cheaper if you buy 5 bags instead of one. Same for Little Debbies and all the other crap they sell. NPR did a story awhile back about recent immigrants from Mexico who could not afford healthy food in the supermarket, so they were substituting McDs and Taco Hell instead. It’s a complex problem but it can be unraveled if the Rs don’t complain too much. Right now I’m thinking about Mrs. Obama’s White House garden and the stir they made of that. We need to collaborate with the food industry and insist that they not abuse us, maybe even make less money.

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  11. Scout said on January 27, 2023 at 1:48 pm

    Since we’re the same age, that school photo looks so much like mine, down to some of the kids making funny faces just as the shutter snapped. I’m still trying to figure out which kid was you – guessing back row 2nd from the right? I was always in the front row because I am a shorty.

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  12. Icarus said on January 27, 2023 at 2:19 pm

    I’d like to chime in about the obesity discussion but first, Memphis is getting ready to release some video tonight involving 5 cops murdering someone. People are expecting riots. The cops and the victim are all black yet someone people have made it racial, because of course.


    My inlaws and their families have canceled birthday dinners and trips to Costco because they are “afraid for their own life”. Sure, maybe avoid the Peabody Hotel this weekend, but Costco? FFS!

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  13. Suzanne said on January 27, 2023 at 3:42 pm

    I was terribly skinny as a kid. I didn’t like most foods and my mom wasn’t much of a cook.p so don’t think I ever overate. We drank Kool-Aide a lot but rarely soda. We almost never went out to eat. I do remember getting a pecan waffle on vacation once & I couldn’t begin to finish it. Now, I am sure I could finish it with no problem.
    My weight on my first driver’s license was 110 lbs at 5’5”. I’m now about 185 lbs. What happened? I have no idea. I eat healthy, I exercise, and in return, I am overweight and have cancer. C’est La vie, I guess.

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  14. Peter said on January 27, 2023 at 3:46 pm

    I am no dietician, but I can tell you this:

    – Many years ago I did a project in Sao Paolo. I noticed that poor people in Brazil were, for the most part, thin and healthy, especially compared to the US – it was the middle class who had weight issues.

    I found that, thanks to really low wages, raw food in Brazil is really cheap and plentiful. Rice, beans, fruit are everywhere and affordable. Processed food and fast food is much more expensive, and is out of reach of a good portion of the population. The ones who can afford it splurge on it, and it shows.

    – It’s no secret that portions have been getting larger and larger. We got our china plates when we married in 1984, and we selected a service that was on the small side. When my parents died we got their mid century modern dining room set, and our plates can’t fit in them at all. My parent’s early ’60’s china plates are more than one inch smaller.

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  15. Dorothy said on January 27, 2023 at 5:02 pm

    Like many of the others here, I have no suggestions for helping the childhood obesity issue. And I too was skinny as hell when I was young. One time the school nurse sent a note home telling my mother “Dorothy and James (little brother three years younger than me) could use bigger servings at meal times.” I guess she didn’t know my mother was feeding herself, my dad and ten children. That nurse must’ve been new that year because I have five older siblings and four younger. Everyone knew my family at St. James School. We had enough for our meals but we certainly didn’t have an abundance. I never heard the phrase ‘garden bread’ but we used to have that, too, if we were still hungry after dinner.

    I picked you out of the picture immediately before I read the post, because I felt sure you’d guide us to your location in the shot. We’re the same age, too, and I think our group pictures didn’t change to color until sixth or maybe seventh grade. And they were all taken in the gym so the background didn’t change at all for eight years.

    I’m dreading what’s going to happen tonight when the video of Tyre Nichols being beaten so savagely is released at 7 PM EST. Generally speaking I think it would just be wise to stay home tonight just to be on the safe side.

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  16. Sherri said on January 27, 2023 at 5:02 pm

    Icarus, that the 5 cops being charged in the Memphis murder are black doesn’t make it not about race. The problem of black people being murdered by cops is not about individual cops being racist, it’s about the system cops operate it being racist. Yes, some individual cops are racist, but that’s not the big problem. Individual cops are not the problems.

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  17. David C said on January 27, 2023 at 5:12 pm

    I think high fructose corn syrup is part of the problem but not in the way most people think. It was Earl Butz and his plant fence row to fence row policy making corn cheap and hfcs made sweetening cheap. Those clever food science people know just exactly how sweet, how salty, and how fatty to make something to make us want more.

    But still, it’s only part of the problem. Car culture is part of it. Stranger danger is part of it. The kids who were close enough to school to walk walked. Nobody’s parents sat with their cars running in front of the school to pick the kids up. The rest of us who rode the bus had to walk to the bus stop. A lot of the pesticides are hormone mimicking. Who knows what that does to us. It a really tough problem and only skinny people have any idea what to do about it. Too bad their ideas are bad and don’t run any further than get up off your asses you lazy fatties. I’ve pretty much given up on losing weight. I cycle and walk in the summer and do the basement triathlon (riding a bike on a trainer, rowing machine, and walking on a track we built in the basement) in the winter. I’ve barely moved from 5’9″ and 200 lbs I don’t know how long. This is where I am and that’s going to have to be OK.

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  18. Deborah said on January 27, 2023 at 6:08 pm

    Seems to me that genes must have something to do with it, but what do I know. My paternal grandfather was tallish and thin, my father wasn’t quite as tall, but was always fit and trim. I have 2 or 3 female cousins who like me were thin and tallish and still are. I have quite a few male cousins on that side who are tallish and thin too but in their immediate families they have siblings who struggle with their weight like my sister does and has for a few decades now.

    When you see photos of US soldiers in WWII it’s surprising how trim they are and how muscular, but in a different way than men are muscular now.

    It’s easy to say, push your chair back from the table but it’s way more complicated than that, obviously.

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  19. MarkH said on January 27, 2023 at 7:28 pm

    My Michigan relatives are long gone, now, but I always remember them as ‘Michiganders’. A poll in this piece shows overwhelming agreement among residents .


    BTW, I agree with Scout – top row, second from right.

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  20. David C said on January 27, 2023 at 7:47 pm

    Michiganian always sounded strange to me. I’m on team Michigander.

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  21. Deborah said on January 27, 2023 at 9:21 pm

    Lots of violence on video out today, with the Pelosi hammering and the Tyre Nichols beating by the police.What is wrong with people? Brings one to tears.

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  22. alex said on January 27, 2023 at 11:36 pm

    I think diet has a lot to do with it.

    My parents were children of the depression. They were tiny, short and wiry.

    My generation grew up on whole milk, peanut butter and Wonder bread. We’re much taller, and in our older age, much beefier, although that my have to do more with the proliferation of processed foods.

    The current generation of preadolescent porkers no doubt get it from the processed foods, in addition to ridiculous amounts of substances like Mountain Dew, but also the lack of exercise. My generation were “free range” children who were entrusted to venture as far from home as felt safe to us. Despite having dropped trou and acid a whole lot earlier than our parents might have liked, I would argue that we came out much more physically and mentally fit.

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  23. Dexter Friend said on January 28, 2023 at 2:02 am

    In Indiana there was soda pop called Pokagon; it came in many flavors. My uncle always had like 6 wooden cases of 24 bottles in his cool basement. He and my aunt had two kids about the same age as my older brother and me, and we’d play at their house in the country quite a bit. What puzzled me was that that soda stayed in the basement, even in summer. I guess we could have snatched a bottle, but never did. When we got thirsty, it was hose water or kitchen tap water over there. At our house, across the rural road 327 from a gas station, we’d run over there every time we had a nickel (small bottle of Coca-Cola) or a dime (12 oz. bottle of Pepsi-Cola.) We likely would have drunk soda every day if we had any money. My cousins never seemed to even want any of all that Pokagon. At mealtime, Aunt served us from pots and pans on the stove. Say the meal was hamburger or sausage patties, mashed potatoes, and green beans, and bread & butter. The meals that family ate were so small…tiny meat patties, just a dollop of potatoes, a few green beans, water in an aluminum cup, no dessert, that came later in the evening, a tiny bit of ice cream.
    Their kids were thin, but healthy. That was the way they ate, sparingly.
    Our mom cooked meals and served us huge portions, all we wanted, and clean your plate, buster. My dad laughed as I went for a third portion of creamy coleslaw. I ate many ears of corn at a setting, and in summer, giant bowls of strawberries . Late summer, gooseberry pie , loaded with many cups of sugar, appeared and I ate all I could stand. But my brother was skinny and I became the fat kid. As I approached my teens and was always active, biking, playing football, basketball, and baseball all the time, I was trim enough to play school sports all the way through varsity sports in high school. My brother always remained thin. So why did I balloon up as a boy and he didn’t? We ate the same things everyday. But the real mystery remains: why did Uncle hoard cases of sugary soda pop and never touch the stuff…at least in front of us? Ah! He didn’t want to share it with his nephews!
    I picked nance out of the photo grouping right away.

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  24. nancy said on January 28, 2023 at 8:26 am

    The Michigander/Michiganian debate is fairly stupid, but ongoing. My style is: My old editor Derek decreed it be Michiganian, and it’s settled for me. If people insist on saying Michigander, I don’t care, but sometimes I ask that they call me a Michigoose.

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  25. Deborah said on January 28, 2023 at 9:49 am

    New Mexican is easy, Illinoisian not so much, is that even a thing? I feel like I’ve heard people say that and pronounce the S.

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  26. Julie Robinson said on January 28, 2023 at 11:18 am

    In Indiana 5/10 Hoosiers pronounce the s in Illinois. And 3/10 think that big airport outside Chicago is O’Hara. Just a couple of reasons this former Illini struggled there.

    Of course here in Florida, both those locations are just vaguely up north and never thought about.

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  27. Jason T. said on January 28, 2023 at 11:21 am

    Young Nancy has a look of skepticism on her face. Even then, she seems to be saying, “Do you believe this sh-t?”

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  28. Suzanne said on January 28, 2023 at 11:31 am

    Oh, yes, Julie! An acquaintance of mine, an intelligent & successful business woman, mispronounces words all the time. It’s always O’Hara airport. Always! Often she says Alti rather than Aldi, calls Rottweiler dogs “rotseweilers”, and frequently tells me that she done something or got her hair did. She works in insurance and there is a term for having the children of beneficiaries get the payout if the beneficiary dies first. It’s called “per stirpes”, a Latin term, but she always says “per stripes”. Do Hoosiers simply not pay attention?
    FWIW, I usually call people from Illinois “Illini”.

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  29. Mark P said on January 28, 2023 at 12:26 pm


    Back to fat … I brought my lunch to high school in a brown paper bag. My mother prepared it. It was always an egg salad sandwich and a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, plus an apple and a big candy bar. I don’t know why I wasn’t 300 pounds, but I was a skinny kid, and remained skinny until recently, when my knee started hurting when I walk. Running was a distant memory by then. I need to lose about 15 pounds, and maybe I will. And maybe I won’t. Maybe a knee replacement will help.

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  30. Deborah said on January 28, 2023 at 1:36 pm

    I always thought Illini was what you called people who went to the University of Illinois. I had not heard people from the state called that.

    Suzanne, an architect I worked with many years ago did what you described your acquaintance does, getting words wrong. When I first noticed that the guy did that a lot, I looked it up (before Google) and found there’s a learning disability that causes that, it has a specific name that I can’t remember, I tried Googling just now to find the name but it’s not showing up. This guy would use words that were close but wrong, he was quite intelligent, which made me think something else was going on.

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  31. David C said on January 28, 2023 at 1:51 pm

    Are you thinking of malapropism, Deborah?

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  32. Julie Robinson said on January 28, 2023 at 2:23 pm

    Deborah, I can’t speak to today’s usage, only what my little town used in the 60’s and 70’s.

    Suzanne, does she also say worshrag? That one always jars me when coming from the mouth of someone who is well educated. It sounds like the most hick thing ever.

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  33. Deborah said on January 28, 2023 at 2:39 pm

    Malapropism is the result, but the name for the disability that makes people prone to it is different. It’s the inability to discern subtle differences in sounds and meanings (I think). It was many decades ago that I looked it up and as I said Google didn’t exist yet. I had to go to the library to look things up back then. Maybe the learning disability has been debunked since then, for all I know.

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  34. Deborah said on January 28, 2023 at 2:47 pm

    Totally off topic. Today around us in Santa Fe is an amazing blend of aromas. Someone near us is cooking something with roasted green chiles so that is in the air, fireplaces burning pinon nearby too and LB is baking bread indoors so it’s heavenly inside and out. One of the great consequences of being in Santa Fe today. It’s warm enough to do a bit outside, that’s when I noticed the outside aromas. This next week will allow for more outdoor time too.

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  35. Brandon said on January 28, 2023 at 6:28 pm

    On the “intrusive R.”

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  36. Suzanne said on January 28, 2023 at 6:40 pm

    Julie @32, my friend doesn’t say warshrag (although my mom does), but always pronounces tour as terr. My mom also pronounces creek as crick.
    Ah, Hoosier talk…

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  37. Julie Robinson said on January 28, 2023 at 7:47 pm

    Crick is also used by Iowa farmers. Pretty much anything up to the Mississippi was a crick.

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  38. David C said on January 28, 2023 at 8:11 pm

    It always sounded more like worsh than warsh to me. They’re just using up the “R”s they’ve saved up from saying libary.

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  39. Suzanne said on January 28, 2023 at 9:12 pm

    LOL David C @38! So true!

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  40. Deborah said on January 28, 2023 at 9:33 pm

    David C, you got a chuckle out of me, libary and Febuary too.

    While I lived in St. Louis, I heard lots of people say warsh. My dad, grew up in Iowa, he said feesh instead of fish, and poosh instead of push, there are a lot more of his anomalies but I can’t think of them right now.

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  41. Julie Robinson said on January 28, 2023 at 9:45 pm

    Dying, David!

    My Iowa grandpa also said batt’ry. He grew up poor and only went through sixth grade, but I never heard of anyone putting him down for it.

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  42. Mark P said on January 28, 2023 at 10:31 pm

    Extra r’s are a British thing, too. Maybe I have mentioned listening to a British word game on the radio. They were looking for homophones. One correct answer was “nor” and “gnaw,” both pronounced something like “nar.”

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  43. A. Riley said on January 28, 2023 at 10:34 pm

    Oh, small-town Hoosier accents. My family moved to our little burg in the late 1950s and we were still
    “new in town” decades later. Anyway. My mother, faded-lace-curtain Chicago Irish, was not about to have her kids talking like hicks. If she ever heard us say “warshrag,” we’d have never heard the end of it. That’s a washcloth and we are town people, dammit, so we better talk like it.

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  44. beb said on January 29, 2023 at 3:15 am

    This article about fat children needing surgery or other medical intervention runs counter to articles that find that fat people are often just as healthy as skinny people. More than that, you have to wonder who is behind an article arguing for surgery on children. Mostly likely the people behind it would profit from the surgical business.

    As for what makes people fat, neither diet or genetics is a good indicator of outcomes. My father was tall and slender, my mom was small and slender. My brother, sister and myself are all tall. My brother and sister were slender growing up but I was fat. Late in life my brother is still slender but my sister has grown heavy like my father’s mother. We all ate the same food growing up but outcomes were different. My wife has two sisters. They were slender while she was heavy.

    Activity may have something to do with it, but while I wasn’t as active as my brother and sister I don’t think I was that much less active.

    There is an argument that certain modern food elements , endocrine disruptors are responsible. This I think is true but it is likely a combination of genes for storing fat triggered by these disruptors, adding to the heavy amount of sugar that is put into processed foods.

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  45. Dexter Friend said on January 29, 2023 at 3:56 am

    Chicagoans called Comiskey Park “Cominsky”. Spelling be dammed, I believe the airport is “O’Hara”. Here, when I moved to NW Ohio, the little town north of Defiance was called “Archie-bald”. As that generation was silenced, Archbold became known as “Arch-Bold”.
    Waterloo, Indiana is pronounced “water-LOO”. In Iowa it’s “WATER-loo”.
    al-BANY, GA…ALL_bunny New York.
    Northeast Indiana, the big town 165 west is called “shuh-CAW-guh”.
    Most natives just say shuh-CAH-go.
    Hearing “Loss-ANG-uh-lees” is rare these days, even on old TCM films.

    And what Detroit sports fan could forget super-fan “The Brow” (late, retired school teacher), screaming “DAY-TWAHHH !” when his Detroit pro teams did something good. That guy went to 90% of Red Wings, Tigers, Lions, and Pistons games at home and many road games.
    Joe Diroff, Detroit legend.

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  46. Dexter Friend said on January 29, 2023 at 4:18 am

    Watch this. It is excellent, but some hate it. Viewer’s choice.

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  47. ROGirl said on January 29, 2023 at 8:38 am

    It’s the quantity of processed foods (food-like substances), the refined carbs, the fat and sugar. Genetics plays a role, but gas stations didn’t used to be mini-marts that sold slices of pizza. When did that become a thing? More opportunities/temptation to consume junk food.

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  48. alex said on January 29, 2023 at 11:28 am

    I’ve heard New Yorkers say bubs for boobs.

    Today is a hangover day. Haven’t had one of those in a while. Hubby’s company Christmas party, always a month after Christmas, is always quite the event. They put us up in a hotel, shuttle us to a fine dining establishment and ply us with alcohol. This year it was held at the Three Rivers Distillery.

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  49. LAMary said on January 29, 2023 at 1:13 pm

    Growing up in northern NJ my family said wawter and cawfee and all those NY area type words but what was different was the lingering Dutch accent in Passaic and Bergen counties that had us say yah instead of yes. It wasn’t until I moved away from home that I realized the difference. Just on my block alone the names were Van Wyk, Sinning, Van Harken, Tanis, De Block, Hammersma, Groenburg. About of third of our neighbors were born in the Netherlands and couldn’t pronounce a TH.

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  50. basset said on January 29, 2023 at 2:06 pm

    “Feesh” for fish and “orrel” for oil where I grew up in rural SW Indiana.

    And about a language I don’t even try to pronounce… anyone here speak any Japanese? Need help deciphering what looks like a stockroom tag on a WW2 Japanese army rifle.

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  51. Julie Robinson said on January 29, 2023 at 3:16 pm

    Bassett, our library had a list of everyone who spoke other languages. If you take a couple of pictures you may even be able to email them.

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  52. Jeff Gill said on January 29, 2023 at 3:53 pm

    Had to convince my son this song existed before Notorious BIG; pulled it often out of the playbox at WCCR as bumper music. Even after playing it he’s still amazed “Rise” had a history before he encountered the riff. Love that bass line.


    (This came up because it was background for an ad early in the Eagles/Other Team playoff game.)

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  53. David C said on January 29, 2023 at 4:13 pm

    Most people I know say feb-you-airy, me included. Maybe everyone says feb-roo-airy and I hear it the other way. I guess that’s my weirdo pronunciation. That and saying roof with the vowel sound of foot instead of root (for the home team) and is root (plant part in the ground) pronounced the same as root (for the home team) because they’re different for me.

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  54. susan said on January 29, 2023 at 5:21 pm

    and root/route

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  55. basset said on January 29, 2023 at 6:54 pm

    Thanks, Julie, I’ll try that.

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  56. Deborah said on January 29, 2023 at 7:00 pm

    David C, I said feb-you-airy for an embarrassingly long time until I realized it should be feb-roo-airy. I have a lot of other malapropisms that I eventually learned the difference, and there are still more that I have yet to recognize I’m sure.

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  57. David C said on January 29, 2023 at 7:47 pm

    I think I’ll become a Quaker so I can call February second month. That’ll solve everything.

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  58. candlepick said on January 29, 2023 at 10:46 pm

    Feb-you-airy made us shiver. Feb-roo-airy sounds un-American.

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  59. KD said on January 29, 2023 at 11:14 pm

    We’re about the same age and I’ve noticed the same thing in school pictures: No fat kids. The kids were THOUGHT were fat were barely overweight. I grew up in a small town and we walked to school. Every day. After school, we changed clothes and played outside until suppertime. Non-stop movement. Kids in my town all ride the bus now. Even if they live just a few blocks from school. COVID lockdowns made it worse. Kids never went outside, even to walk to the bus. No wonder they’re waddling now. I’ve always been thin, gained about 10 pounds a decade ago and just lost it all. Like 4birds, I’ve noticed that friends feel free to tell you you’re too thin, but they say nothing to obese people. Fat shaming is wrong, apparently, but thin shaming is OK. Go figure.

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  60. Mark P said on January 29, 2023 at 11:33 pm

    The accepted pronunciation of February is Feb-you-ary. The initial r is not pronounced. Pronouncing the initial r is a kind of hyper correction.

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  61. Dexter Friend said on January 30, 2023 at 12:31 am

    Reagan said guvmint and then everyone of his people said guvmint.

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  62. Dexter Friend said on January 30, 2023 at 12:35 am

    “…any fish bites of you got good bait…”

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  63. BigHank53 said on January 30, 2023 at 2:36 am

    Some of the obesity issue can be laid at the feet of the USDA—once an agricultural policy gets rolling, good luck changing it, as the folks benefiting from it will roll out the “struggling family farmer” at an instant’s notice, even if 90% of the proceeds wind up in the pockets of ADM.

    This country spent decades making food cheap, after the number of folks that turned up 4F due to malnutrition in World War 2. (The “before” part of Captain America was not unusual.) That’s what gave us public school lunch programs: fear of the communist hordes, not liberal fee-fees for the poor. Same idea was behind lowering commodity prices in order to get more calories into the population. It’s worked, too. The next time you pass through a Wal-Mart, check to see what a big box of knock-off Pop-Tarts costs. The last time I checked it was $1.59. That’s twelve toaster pastries at 200-210 calories each, or more than enough food for an adult for an entire day.

    The USDA hasn’t been worried about getting quality calories into people. It wasn’t the problem they set out to solve.

    Super-cheap food isn’t a sole cause, of course. God forbid you let children play without supervision. Twenty-five years ago I looked at a townhouse; the neighbor’s 30×40 back yard was beaten earth without a blade of grass to be seen, though the desolation was relieved with battered plastic toys. There was an enormous park across the street.

    Outside is scary. If your kids are the wrong color the cops will shoot them. Sometimes they’ll shoot them even if they’re the right color. The TV is paid for. Food is cheap. Eating something will make you feel better.

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  64. Dorothy said on January 30, 2023 at 8:18 am

    Jeff @52 – that’s one of my very favorite songs! I am pretty sure it came out in 1979, or maybe the year before. I know this because I got married in ‘79 and I took a dance class that summer somewhere. Rise was one of the songs the teacher played when we did warmup exercises on mats on the floor. Pelvic thrusts were what we did to Rise! Maybe that’s why I still find Herb Alpert sexy AF. His music is also one of my Pandora stations.

    I’m not sure I want to hear Notorious BIG’s version of it since I love the original so much.

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  65. ROGirl said on January 30, 2023 at 10:10 am

    I’ve been seeing cereal in the grocery store that costs over $8 for a 12 ounce box. Way more than a box of pop tarts, but they’re special because they’re keto and gluten free.

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  66. Jenine said on January 30, 2023 at 1:10 pm

    @Deborah, thanks for the Santa Fe aroma report, that sounds wonderful

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  67. Brandon said on January 30, 2023 at 1:38 pm

    @MarkP at 60: See Charles Harrington Elster’s book The Big Book of Beastly Mispronunciations: The Complete Opinionated Guide for the Careful Speaker.

    @ROGirl at 65: For a while now, eight dollars for a box of cereal, the regular kind, has been the usual price in Hawaii supermarkets. But it goes on sale for as low as $2.99 depending on the store.

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  68. tajalli said on January 30, 2023 at 1:43 pm

    While viewing the Rise video, I noticed Alpert’s pants – high rise with the belt up near the ribs, definitely above the pelvic girdle – so looked up its production date. I’d thought high rise waists went out sometime in the 1960s for dress pants. Anyhow, looked good on Herb, as good as the music still sounds.

    As I understand it, the body sequesters toxic elements in fat, connective tissue (including the fascial sheathes surrounding and connecting all muscle and organs), and bone. Since our food supply offers up enormous amounts of garbage ingredients in prepared products made from adulterated grains and meats, fat accumulation is promoted and the hormones for satiety (leptin) and hunger (ghrelin) become imbalanced due over consumption of carbs which also contain the endocrine disrupting-/cancer-inducing pesticides being applied so liberally to commercial grains – Roundup is a great example. Roundup is used to bring grains to ripeness at the same time, rather than be spread over time to favor species survival, to make harvests more productive and economical.

    To lose weight, a person has to radically clean up their cooking and eating habits and be willing to suffer the discomfort of constant hunger until their metabolism rebalances, very difficult for a poor person to achieve.

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