The Nanny State Is At It Again


As if the NannyState is not intrusive enough these days along comes this.

1 scaleIn Massachusetts public schools are mandated by law to give every student a Body Mass Index (BMI) screening and report back to parents in writing their child’s weight and BMI score – the Fat Letter as it is being called.

As a former teacher I know health is important to learning. Both when I was in school and when I taught there were sight and hearing screenings especially of primary age children. In a regular public school class room it is difficult to learn to read or perform basic math functions if you cannot see and/or hear.

Young children do not know if their hearing or seeing is optimal, so screening is important.

But weight and BMI?????

Being overweight or having a high BMI does not mean you cannot learn.

Furthermore, and especially in the America, the land of the free, is it the proper business of the school or the state government to inform parents their child is over weight? Does the state think parents don’t know their child is over weight?

How much is this program costing taxpayers?

Of course the state of Massachusetts, who mandates the program, does not pay for it. The local school district must pay for this expensive program, thus stealing money from the local community and children.

Doesn’t the school have a more important charge……like teaching children to read, compute, and think? Shouldn’t we be investing this money on learning?

Do we really want, is it even healthy, for young children to obsess over their weight mimicking a waif  like Hollywood1 scale 2 starlet?

As I said in, The Obesity Epidemic – Or Is It?, and as the Huffington Post has pointed out as well, BMI is not even an accurate measure of being over weight.

The BMI was not even created to measure fat of an individual person. It was intended to measure, “the collective weight of an entire population.” But the math is so easy that doctors and the Food Police soon seized onto it and now use BMI as a bludgeon to try and force people into accepting their no fat ever agenda.

Being over weight, especially in these days of skinny being over-glamorized, is not the end of the world. Remember, plump was once the norm and skinny was once considered unhealthy.  See Body Image I and Body Image II.

Throughout history and into to modern times there have been many happy, successful, and productive obese people who graced our lives and culture:

Henry VIII,  Reuben’s Nudes, Renoir Nudes, Howard Taft, Orson Welles, Lou Costello, Alfred Hitchcock, Rosemary Clooney, Jackie Gleason, and Luciano Pavarotti to name but a few.

Today there is:

Oprah, Queen Latifah, John Goodman, Aretha Franklin, B.B.King, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Kevin James, Drew Carey, Santa Claus, again to name but a few.

Featured Recipe    Artichoke Pasta


I have been playing with this recipe for several years now. While good as it is, nevertheless, it is still a work in progress.

I am trying to get the taste of fresh artichoke leaves dipped /smothered/drowned in melted garlic butter. If you have never eaten or tasted this dish you are missing out on one of life’s best tastes ever. Certainly in the Top Ten Best Tastes In Universe.

I have only had them at a friend’s house or in a restaurant.

This is because, first, the dish is VERY time consuming. And you won’t find this lazy cook doing that much work. Second, fresh artichokes can be difficult to find. And when you do they are often very expensive.

I am close to what I want. I want that flavor of an artichoke dipped in a garlic butter. Don’t know how to get it. Still too much lemon.

See what you think and let me know how to get a more pronounced butter flavor as opposed to lemon juice taste.

This is what you will need for 3 people:

½ package spaghetti

For the Artichokes

2 cans artichokes (not marinated)

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 garlic clove pressed

¼ cup white wine

Salt and pepper to taste


For the Butter Garlic Sauce

2 tablespoons each chopped parsley & chives

4 Tablespoons butter

2 lemons:



1 clove garlic pressed

Grated Parmesan cheese – optional


Here is what you do:

Cook the spaghetti according to package directions.

While the spaghetti is cooking drain the artichokes and dry thoroughly on paper towels.


Cut the chokes in half.


Press the garlic. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat and sauté the garlic until fragrant.  


Add the artichokes to the skillet for 10 minutes gently turning the chokes over once at the half-way mark. Add a bit more oil if necessary.



Add the wine, increase the heat too high, and continue cooking the chokes until most of the wine has cooked down a minute or two.



Set aside and keep warm. If desired, salt and pepper the chokes.


For the Butter Garlic Sauce

Chop the parsley and chives very fine. Press the garlic. Zest and juice the lemon.



Melt the butter over low heat and sauté the garlic until fragrant.

Add the herbs to the garlic and sauté for a scant minute or so.


 Add the lemon juice and heat until warm.



Drain the pasta.

Place cooked pasta in a large bowl. Add the artichoke mixture and toss gently.


Divide the pasta and artichoke mixture onto individual plates.

Top the spaghetti on each plate with some of the Butter Garlic Sauce. Top with some of the lemon zest

If desired top with some grated Parmesan cheese too.

Serve with a salad.


Bon appétit!!!


½ package spaghetti             $1.29

For the Artichokes

2 cans artichokes                  $4.58

2 tablespoons olive oil           $0.24

1 garlic cloves pressed          $0.11

¼ cup white wine                 $1.02

Salt and pepper to taste

For the Butter Garlic Sauce

2 tbspn parsley/chives            $0.36

4 tablespoons butter              $0.32

1 lemon:                               $0.69



1 clove garlic pressed            $0.11

Grated Parmesan cheese        $0.26

Total cost = $8.98
Cost per person = $2.25

Quote of the Day

After all the trouble you go to, you get about as much actual “food” out of eating an artichoke as you would from licking 30 or 40 postage stamps.

Miss Piggy


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6 comments to The Nanny State Is At It Again

  • That news makes me want to cry. Fat kids have it tough enough without having the school write home and complain too. yeah, the skinny kids get one but they won’t feel bad. Fat kids already feel less than top rate because of their shape.

    I agree that excess weight causes a problem but things are changing and over time kids will remember what playing outside is and the weight will fall off.

    I’ve made a chilled pasta salad with artichoke hearts but I’ve never made this pasta. I love it!

    • Roberta

      I totally agree with you, Maureen. I wanted to cry too. I am super sensitive in this area. I was a SUPER skinny kid. And I know what it is like to be teased unmercifully. Doesn’t matter the size… is the teasing. The funny thing is, as I reported a few posts back, childhood obesity is lower than it has been in years.

      As for being skinny when I was a kid…I sing a different tune to all those teasers….If They Could See Me Now…..Hahahaha.

      Glad you like the recipe. 🙂

  • It is refreshing to note that I am not alone in my crusade against the excesses of the nanny state. I often feel that I am a voice in the wilderness.

    What the food police do not realise is that in addition to interfering in matters that they should not, by making decisions for children, they are removing one more opportunity for them to think for themselves, make their own decisions and experience the consequences. All valuable learning experiences and essential skills for a useful life.

    Every new bit of unnecessary legislation aimed at one section of society makes it easier for the nanny state to pass the next one until none of us have any individual rights or freedoms left.

    That gradual erosion of individual power and simultaneous conditioning of good people to accept increasing levels of control is the thin end of the wedge that ultimately leads to atrocities like the Holocaust, Rwandan Genocide and as I personally experienced the wholesale murder, intimidation and theft of property in Zimbabwe.

    Regrettably, I subscribe to the Pendulum theory and expect it to get worse for a few more years until a critical mass of people say enough and push back.

    • Roberta

      I am in total agreement with what you said. Some times I feel like I am a one-note-Johnny on this topic here. I can only hope it makes a few more people think.

  • HI Roberta,

    I am new to your site. I felt the need to comment on this post since I am from Massachusetts, have 3 children in the schools and have received these actual letters. I think the media has blown this a little out of proportion. These letters hardly call children “fat”. My 3 children span the BMI range and I have received both a “normal” as well as “fat letter”. In our district the letters are worded respectfully and NEVER shared with the children. They are addressed and sent via US mail to the parents. I still would NEVER show my child one of these letters. Perhaps other districts are not as kind and thoughtful. You can certainly debate the need for the schools to absorb this cost or perform this function at all. That is not my intention. In our schools I believe one of the school nurses (who is already being paid a salary by the school) takes the measurements. Yes there is the cost of mailing these letters which is something to consider. Thank you for bringing this to my attention.

    My oldest has a small weight issue. I know this and so does her doctor. She may be considered in the obese category, I don’t know because I don’t pay attention to the numbers, just her health. I agree that the definition of obese seems to have changed over the years. Her doctor and I have discussed her risks privately – not in front of her. I always stress to her that I want her to be healthy. To look at her you wouldn’t think she was “huge”. She has a little extra meat here and there and her activity level has decreased as she gets older. However, her cholesterol was checked recently and it is high! She is 11. That concerns me. Knowing this now, we can work on her eating and activity level now while she is young. In my case, the school did not need to alert me to this fact. However, there are others who may need an extra nudge to speak with a doctor. Personally, I look at these letters and promptly recycle them.

    I see children everyday. They are more sedentary than we ever were and more overweight. The junk food available to them, even at school, is disgusting. Yes parents need to keep this in check. I do my best. But when they are bombarded everywhere it is a tough sell. My children feel deprived because we have fruit and veggies for snacks. Many parents give in so you are not only fighting against TV ads and grocery store shelves, but your children’s friend’s parents too.

    Your recipe looks delicious! I will definitely be trying it soon.

    • Roberta

      Thank you for weighing in, Kristina.

      Your thoughtful comment based on personal experience, in many instances proves my belief that most parents know their child’s health issues without a nudge from the schools.

      In addition to the cost of this exercise during a time when many states are in the red, my main point is this program is just another example of the intrusion of the government into the private lives of Americans. I am a true believer of the Constitution and “life, liberty, and the pursuit of hapiness.” The government has no business in my/our personal lives even if well meaning.

      Thank you for the nice words about the recipes here. 🙂