This weekend Baltimore Sun columnist Gregory Kane added a pinch of levity and a healthy dollop of common sense to the debate surrounding the so-called “obesity epidemic.” Taking on the notion put forth by “America’s new Fat Police” that today’s kids consume more treats than kids in previous eras, Kane argues: target=_blank>”I’m a baby boomer, and I’m here to tell you we sucked down junk food by the ton.”

Kane points out that the difference between now and then is the simple issue of exercise:

There wasn’t this “obesity crisis” our government officials are wringing their hands about today. Why? Because we burned the calories from junk food up almost as soon as it hit our bellies. We didn’t camp out in front of the television. Heck, there were only three channels. When we got home from school in the afternoon, the only thing on was soap operas.

The numbers back up Kane’s assertion that exercise levels have changed while caloric intake among children hasn’t. Dr. Lisa Sutherland of the University of North Carolina has noted that from 1980 to 2000, “obesity increased 10 percent, physical activity decreased 13 percent and caloric intake rose 1 percent among U.S. adolescents.” In fact, 30 years ago, 66 percent of children walked to school; that number has now fallen to 13 percent. More information about the real causes of childhood obesity can be found here and here.