CBCnews

Results may vary

After months of delay, Canada's new food guide was unveiled earlier this week — to mostly positive reviews.

It's the first update in 15 years — and the first time the guide told Canadians to limit their intake of junk food like cookies, pastries, potato chips, and doughnuts. But there have been some pretty significant complaints, like the guide says nothing that would show us how to limit the number of calories we taken in and that a person following it could potentially gain a whole lot of weight.

In other words, it may not be much of a weapon in the war against obesity.

Meanwhile, south of the border, the new governor of Arkansas is trying to can a pet project of his predecessor — one aimed at addressing the growing problem of childhood obesity.

Mike Huckabee created quite the stir back in 2003 with his obesity report card program. Huckabee — who dropped 110 pounds after he was diagnosed with diabetes — got schools to send home obesity report cards to warn parents of the risks of their children being overweight.

Under the program, children would be measured and weighed every year and their body mass index would be calculated. If it was too high, parents would find out through a report card. When the program came in, 38 per cent of Arkansas kids were either overweight or at risk of getting there.

Three years later, the rate came down, a little.

Several states followed Arkansas' lead.

Huckabee's been out of office since Jan. 9 and the new governor — who has never had a weight problem — is considering ditching the program, or watering it down substantially.

Mike Beebe says the school weigh-ins and report cards had a lot of negative, unintended consequences and hurt some children's self-esteem. He wants to make it easier for parents to drop out of the program. He also wants the state to test kids less often.

Not long after the program launched, CBC-TV's Marketplace went to Little Rock to check it out. They found some pretty upset kids. And some parents who were grateful. Kathy Caudle said when her son brought home a report putting his BMI at borderline obese, she knew it was time to change the way her family eats. She says her son was upset at being told he was overweight.

Huckabee has dismissed complaints that being told you're overweight damages your self-esteem.

"A person who is overweight — I’m speaking from the voice of experience — doesn’t need to be told that he or she’s overweight. The person’s already depressed."

Question is what works better: someone bluntly telling you that you're on the fast track to health problems, or a guide that makes wide-ranging suggestions? Results may vary.

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