I have to say I am very disappointed in Parent’s magazine article “Raise a Slim Kid in a Super size World” August 2009, page 128. As a mother of three teenage children, all of whom are very healthy and not obese, I was disappointed in how the article went on to tell parents, who tend to rely on articles in magazines like “Parents” that “a new Harvard study found babies who gain weight more quickly in their first 6 months going from 50-90th percentile for example were more likely to be obese at age three” Are you kidding me? Basically this study and this article are saying to put babies on diets Another thing the author of the article failed to mention was the fact that children need fat in their diet for brain and nervous system development.
By the way, my oldest daughter did exactly that, went from 50th to 90th percentile in her first year, and yes, she was breastfed. She then went on to not gain weight, despite her eating very healthy portions, of both healthy foods and snacks. As a matter of fact as a teenager, she was insulted many times by people asking her if she was anorexic, to her that was just as insulting as someone calling someone overweight chubby, or fat to their face. My other daughter is a vegetarian (only one in the family), a decision she made on her own, but I made her wait until she was 13 and had already gone through puberty, and we went for her yearly check up, and had her discuss it with her pediatrician, and gave her information of both the pros and cons and then let her decide, and have supported her 100% in this decision. My son (13) is very healthy weight-wise, he has a very large frame, he is 5’8, broad shouldered, his feet are 11 1/2 men’s if that gives you an idea of how large he is proportioned. He weighs 135 lbs, and honestly doesn’t have an ounce of fat on him, he is also very muscular. Yet at his check up, the doctor, following these new guidelines, merely looked at his weight, and not even looking at how skinny he appears, mentioned he is “borderline” with his weight. My son came home, and started obsessing, and exercising excessively, temporarily forgetting all I had taught him about moderation, and respecting, and liking his own image.
My daughter was mortified at his actions, and said “Did the doctor actually look at him?!” Luckily all I had taught him came back, and it didn’t last too long, but it does creep up on him every once in a while, and that bad self image sneaks in temporarily. All it takes its one remark like that, especially from a doctor, to set them up for that hard road of hating the way you look no matter how you look. Yes there are a lot more obese children and adults right now. I understand that. It only takes common sense to raise a healthy child, nutrition wise. I honestly feel the weight problem, is more of an absent parent thing than anything else. In this day and age, parents are all to quick to pass off their children to daycare and babysitters to raise, and then are too tired to give them very much attention when they get home. I know with this economy it is almost always necessary for both parents to work, and there are many single parents with deadbeat dads/moms, so they are the sole provider, but parents really do need to start making more of an effort to essentially being a parent, not just the person who picks them up and drops them off at the babysitter/daycare. As a whole, we also need to start doing a little inventory and seeing if the working 50-60 or more hours a week, especially if it’s both parents, is completely necessary. By inventory I mean re-examining the budget, and deciding if that amount of hours need to be worked because of luxuries, or because your saving for a college education, and other necessities. My guess is, if both parents are working that much, you will find that you will be able to cut down on some, not all of the extras, and still have money for the necessities, work less and actually be able spend more time with your child/children.
When I was a teenager, and even into my 20’s, I had an obsession with my weight. sometimes I would go weeks eating no more than 300 calories a day, if I wasn’t starving myself, I was obsessively exercising. I would work out until I passed out or threw up, or both. Now as an adult of 38, I have become”overweight” but definitely not from my diet, I still keep track, but allow myself 1200 calories a day. I weigh 180 lbs, at 5’7 yes, that’s overweight. and am disgusted with myself, I won’t even look at myself in the mirror, or the shower. Unfortunately, although I hid it well from family/friends, I also felt this way even at 110 pounds. I am also very sick. My entire body hurts all the time and I have extreme fatigue. The docs say fibromyalgia, but my pain is in my bones so I highly doubt fibro. I feel my inability to keep weight off and my health problems stem from my many years of abusing my body to get thinner and thinner. I also have very damaged teeth due to my lack of nutrition.
My obsession did not stem from an image I thought “society” wanted, or by seeing thin models in magazines, or any of the things you usually hear people blaming eating disorders on. It was because everywhere I looked, magazines, newspapers, even the news, they were always talking about some super new diet. I also believe well meaning family members making passing comments about my weight as a child (I was slightly overweight) contributed, as to this day I sill remember every one of them.
I know in my heart, and from experience, if parents obsess over food, over everything the child/family takes in, and counts every calorie, that tends to lead to far more eating disorders, which in my experience, is more dangerous than a few extra pounds. Perhaps we will have slimmer generations to come, but at what cost? Not only do eating disorders affect the person with them physically, but mentally also, in effect, their whole life . Trouble with relationships, raising their children, and even friendships. I also know that if you ban any food from the house, it makes it wanted even more. I have seen children who’s parent’s do not allow sugar, or soda, etc, go crazy when they are at someone else’s house, or at a party. Don’t think for one second that if its not allowed in the home, they just won’t want it. On the contrary, they will want it more. Most reasonable healthy adult “diets” with the highest success rates, even for those with diabetes, no longer “ban” any food completely, the reason is, they have found that “banning” just makes you want it more, and more likely to fail. Once someone “sneaks” their “banned” food, they feel they have failed their diet anyway and tend to go overboard, or worse give up completely, plummeting their self esteem.
The best diet for anyone, children and adults included involve moderation. Understanding that its fine to eat almost anything, as long as you learn that the “unhealthy” snacks should be eaten in small portions, not as the whole meal or snack. In our house we have plenty of “junk food snacks”, but we also always have in the fridge:carrots,apples,oranges,strawberries, celery and lettuce. Believe it or not, yes, they do ask me to fix them a nice platter of carrots and apples, or some other combo of our healthy snacks that are always available. Actually they ask for it a lot. I don’t have to “nag” them into their healthy food, nor do I need to be the “food police”, I have merely always told them that they can eat anything they want, but to remember that “moderation is key.”
In the end, I have raised non-obsessed children, who don’t have to struggle with their weight either. I strongly hope that most of the both new and experienced parents who read this article realize this, and don’t take it too seriously. I would not wish an eating disorder on my worst enemy, let alone a child, and I do fear that if they take this article to heart, it could cause many hardships.