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Week 7: YouTube Obesity Videos

Week 7: Youtube Obesity Videos

First, I’ll comment on Trier’s articles, “ ‘Cool’ Engagements with YouTube? Parts 1 and 2. I enjoyed reading both of his articles, particularly because I learned a few things, such as what a podcast is and how it works. My church offers sermons on podcast, so maybe I’ll try it out next time I’m out of town. Part two suggested using YouTube videos for introducing the author of a novel or for students to post their created video assignments, both of which I liked and thought were useful ideas. However, I do not think that allowing students to search the internet for YouTube videos related to the study topic is a good idea, especially for my 8th grade students. I felt even more strongly that this would not be an appropriate assignment after my seemingly benign YouTube search for obesity-related clips.

I simply typed “obesity? into the search area and was immediately besieged by thousands of clips. The very first, most informative, interesting, and useful clip to come up was created by National Geographic. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CodB8Q71Sok It runs 3min, 36 seconds. I’ll talk about this one first. It seems to be a clip from a TV show, posted by NG. In it, we meet a 28 year old man who weighs over 500 pounds and is preparing to undergo gastric bypass surgery. I thought that the video was informative and realistic and could be used to prompt discussion about weight loss methods for people struggling with obesity.

A second NG clip that I also found interesting seemed to also be a segment from the same episode mentioned above. It runs 6min, 4 sec. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vxSAhLyKVqw In it, an endocrinologist explains Cushing Syndrome, a disorder caused by tumors on the pituitary gland, causing obesity. The clip contains interviews with a patient who was healthy as a young woman, but gained a large amount of weight in her 20’s for no apparent reason. She suffered from obesity for many years before she was diagnosed with Cushing Syndrome and had an operation to remove the tumors. While certainly not all people who are obese suffer from Cushing Syndrome, I thought this clip could start a great conversation about the causes of obesity and break down the stereotype that obesity is always caused by overeating.

A third clip that I thought would be useful in the classroom was made by “Kidfluence TV? and runs for 4:00. It seems to be a student-news program, a type of informational video often played on PBS on Saturday mornings. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mF0FUW3oJw8 This clip would be appropriate to play in health class unity on nutrition or exercise, and could introduce the topic in student-friendly lingo.

A fourth clip that I found discussed a weight-loss drug named “Accomplia.? The clip appears to be from a Fox News broadcast and was posted on YouTube in December 2006. It runs for 2:00. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rsPCTGyufho I think that one could be opening Pandora’s box by discussing diet pills for weight loss in a classroom, but the same could be said about many things; suffice it to say, I would use this one with caution. I would also have to do more research about this drug because “Accomplia? is a European drug that had not been released in the United States in 2006. I wonder if the new weight loss drug advertised on TV, “Alli? is the same thing.
The previously mentioned four clips were those that I found most useful and likely to include in a classroom. I found some clips of individuals who were keeping obesity diaries; of interest was a man who called himself “used to be 803.? He’d posted hundreds of videos documenting his weight loss. The one I watched went on for several minutes and was a mostly an obese man’s ramblings on what it feels like to be judged by others based on his appearance. I felt that it was not well done and would probably not use it in class.

“Used to be 803? inspired me to enter “Weight Watchers? on my search. I found many amateur videos of people tracking their weight loss with photos of themselves in the same outfits at decreasing weights. I would only use something like this in class if I were going to assign students to keep diaries of themselves to be posted into a video. Most were boring to watch.

The remaining dozens of clips that I bothered to watch were terribly useless and mostly degrading to the individuals who posted them. I will not attach them to this blog because they disgust me and I have no intention of promoting individuals’ stupidity. Many consisted of obese women and men in sports bras and spandex shorts doing exercises like jumping jacks, dancing, running, etc. Those were the decent ones. Several appeared in my search that had titles like “how to have sex with a fat woman,? etc. There seemed to be more amateur videos of obese people exercising and having sex than there were educational or informative videos! This is the very reason I would not give an assignment such as the one I’ve just conducted, at least not in my current position as a middle school teacher. Perhaps one could expect high school students to search maturely, but after my experience of 30 eighth graders researching in the computer lab for their informational speeches, I would NOT allow them access to YouTube to search for informational videos.

This class is forcing me to become media literate, which is the intention, of course. I’m beginning to understand why America is becoming fatter – things like online communities and YouTube videos are enormous time wasters and our students are engaging in them with reckless abandon! I’ve spent more hours this semester reading and watching mostly ridiculous ramblings of people with too much time on their hands. I do feel that our students need to be media literate, but I would include in a media literacy class lessons on the dangers of a sedentary lifestyle that technology seems to promote.