Crazy Belgians Fight Childhood Obesity With Beer


Michelle Obama is not the first public figure to designate childhood obesity as a serious issue, nor is she the first to propose a potential solution, but amidst the numerous modern worldwide political wars on childhood obesity, this Belgian proposal really takes the cake when it comes to creativity.

Long before the FLOTUS was preaching about upgrading the dog food-grade meals kids are currently being fed at public schools here in America, a Belgian beer society called the Limburg Beer Friends came up with a rather novel plan for their beloved Belgium’s school system. In 2001, club president Rony Langenaeken (have a few beers and try to say that name three times fast) proposed that rather than giving children sugary drinks like soda and juice, the schools should serve children aged 3 to 15 a weak beer known as tafelbier, which would contain about half the amount of alcohol as the standard American lager you probably drank during study sessions just a couple of years ago. Rony said he hatched this hair-brained scheme when he saw a Belgian study linking obesity (and breast cancer) to sugary drinks. You know, because it’s common knowledge that drinking beer sheds the pounds better than any other substance or activity known to man. It’s science.

Anyway, the Limburg Beer Friends apparently weren’t the only drunk ones at the time, because the Lagere Gemengde School in Hasselt approved a test run and, surprise surprise, 75% of the students preferred the tasty tafelbier over previous beverages. Unfortunately for the pleasantly-buzzed, future alcoholic children, no other Belgian school ran with this unique and completely logical idea and the plan ultimately died due to “parental concerns.” You know, parental concerns about the government giving their children alcohol in school.

Now, my views on this? I like to go against the grain a little. Sure, government-sponsored child boozing was an unorthodox idea and sure, it wasn’t backed by much logic, but hey, who are we really hurting here? For the screaming, hyperactive little preteen brats, a tafelbier is just enough alcohol to induce perpetual nap time until it’s time to give them back to their birth givers (great for those of you who are impatient school teachers), and also a little beer gut will give the children some insulation against the harsh Belgian cold. You could say, at this point, that their drinking really is aiding in survival, as it does for many of us in postgrad purgatory. It is common knowledge that the Belgians, Germans, British, Dutch, Russians, and Fins love to drink. Call it conditioning, like what China does to their pre-pubescent future Olympic athletes. These kids were being prepared for the lifelong happy hour that is European citizenship.

Dripping sarcasm aside, let’s at least be impressed by the Limburg Beer Friends’ accomplishment. My postgrad Natural Light-sponsored spare tire scientifically disproved the theory that a beer a day keeps the love handles away, but somehow Rony and his drinking buddies convinced an educational institution otherwise. I don’t know what that says about the Belgian education system, but still, it’s quite an impressive feat. I can’t even convince my boss to get the office a Mad Men-style bar cart. I really thought I’d made a coherent argument that lunch hour cocktails would improve productivity and morale, but it just wasn’t enough, and I digress.

Bottom line: if you can talk a school into serving beer to children for any reason at all, cheers.

[via Mental Floss]

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