And that’s good news!
Ideally none of the obese youth in America would know they’re obese.
I’m not advocating childhood obesity. I’m advocating a happy childhood.
I was a chubby child and I knew it.
I felt inferior because of my size so I avoided activities with my peers. I used food as a substitute. It was a perfect formula for gaining more weight. My story has a happy ending when as a young mother I discovered Weight Watchers. That’s not the case for many kids who grew up knowing they were obese.
Today we are far more concerned with weight than when I was growing up. It’s become a national hysteria. Words like “epidemic” and “crisis” are attached to obesity. We learn of all the health risks and imminent dangers associated with obesity. I am in no way minimizing the dangers of obesity, but I do question the hysteria, especially in regards to childhood obesity.
It’s counterproductive to label anybody, including children, with a negative label. Many obese adults can testify that thinking of themselves as obese is self-defeating. It is a cause of self-loathing and that leads to frustration and more of the behaviors that exacerbate weight issues rather than solve them.
Let’s just label kids as “kids” and let’s apply it to all children!
Let’s also teach all children healthy habits! Making changes in eating better and moving more will benefit all kids, even the skinny ones!
Many of the skinny kids today are the overweight, unhealthy adults of tomorrow. It’s a mistake to think it’s only the overweight children who eat too much food with too little nutrition for the calories consumed. It’s also a mistake to think it’s only the obese children who sit too much!
The recently retired, Weight Watchers International Chief Scientist, Karen Miller-Kovach wrote and excellent book called, Family Power.
It takes what’s complicated and renders it into 5 simple steps to create a healthy-weight family. Healthy-weight behaviors are important for every member of the family because regardless of body weight, they are things to do to promote good health independently of body weight.
Instead of hanging a negative label with potentially a lifetime of negative feelings of self-worth based on body weight, let’s just teach our children healthy habits through role modeling.
Let’s stop preaching about weight, and healthy food and junk food while we secretly (we think we’re being secret but the kids know!) eat everything we tell kids they shouldn’t eat! Let’s help kids discover foods that taste good, satisfy their hunger and give them more nutrients for every calorie. Let’s allow kids to eat occasional treats without guilt. Let’s teach balance and moderation to all kids regardless of their current BMI.
Let’s stop badgering kids to “get some exercise” while we jump in our car to drive to the corner market to pick up a loaf of bread. Let’s play with kids. Let’s encourage their passions for any and all activities that involve movement.
Let’s not treat childhood obesity as an emergency that needs to be addressed and cured immediately.
Let’s be realistic and accept that we can’t turn it around overnight and indeed, a quick fix is rarely a permanent fix.