Stop the Childhood Obesity Madness!

Alright moms, I’m going to try not to get on an enormous soapbox here.  I’m just going to point out the MADNESS that is going on right now with our nation’s “Childhood Obesity” obsession, and we can discuss in the comments.

Child on ScaleAre there obese children? Sure. (mainly older children, after they learn bad habits)

Does obesity have health risks? Of course.

Do we need to talk to children about healthy choices, exercise, eating when they’re hungry and stopping when they’re not? By. All. Means.

But where do we stop? Weighing and measuring every school child’s Body Mass Index (BMI) in school, and issuing a report to the parents of the “obese” children?  By the way, the definition of obese has been tampered with, I believe, to make the levels lower, resulting in more “obese” children, which are not really obese.  More children that, of course,  the state has to “help”with their programs.  I’ve seen it with my own eyes, with my friends’ children.

Apparently, lead researcher Brian Moss, a sociologist at Wayne State University in Detroit would have us believe that 1/3 of 9-month-old babies… yes, you heard that right… BABIES… are obese.  Let me say that again.  Babies are obese.

Stephanie Pappas, of LiveScience.com (via Yahoo) writes:

The path toward obesity starts at a young age – even before babies transition to a solid diet, according to a new study.

Almost one-third of 9-month-olds are obese or overweight, as are 34 percent of 2-year-olds, according to the research, which looked at a nationally representative sample of children born in 2001. The study is one of the first to measure weight in the same group of very young children over time, said lead researcher Brian Moss, a sociologist at Wayne State University in Detroit. The results showed that starting out heavy puts kids on a trajectory to stay that way.

“If you were overweight at nine months old, it really kind of sets the stage for you to remain overweight at two years,” Moss told LiveScience.

Exactly what BMI scale are they applying to babies? If you have ever had a baby, you know that babies’ sizes ebb and flow.  They get fat, then they lengthen out.  They get that detachable-hand-and-foot look, with rolls at the most juicy parts.  I love that stage!  Then, their wonderful little bodies grow long again.  My girls have been growing like this for the last 10 years. They are incredibly fit, but they go through stages.

The thing that really steams me about this article is that they apparently don’t study these kids past the age of two. Have you looked at your two-year-old photos? Is your body the same shape now? Just ask my little brother, who was such a little butterball when he was a baby that you could barely see his joints. By the age of 5, he was a little string bean and still is today. Babies and toddlers are supposed to be chubby.

I would love to know who funded this study. I can think of several lobbying groups who would benefit from using this information to brainwash mothers everywhere.

My prediction? Our nation of Obese Children will soon become our nation of neurotic control freaks with eating disorders.  What say you?

PS.  Sorry for the snark, you know that isn’t like me, but I am truly fed up with this nonsense.  Because kids do not all fit into a prescribed mold (a very small one, apparently), we should be educating kids about healthy habits, not weighing, scrutinizing, and bullying them into looking like we think they should. OK, so I did get on my soapbox.  Coundn’t help it…
Hat tip to @bkeepsushonest and @Getalonghome for sharing the article on Twitter

lead researcher Brian Moss, a sociologist at Wayne State University in Detroit.
About Sarah Pinnix

I'm a mom, blogger, vlogger, libertarian. I love Jesus, and my husband, too. Social Media Strategist for a Non-Profit (All statements here are solely my own)

Comments

  1. My son was 11 lbs at birth. What would they say to me, I wonder?

    [Reply]

    Sarah
    Twitter: reallifesarah
    Reply:

    Andrea, I have another friend who had an 11-pound baby! She’s 4’10”!! He is very fit now.

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  2. The obesity madness is about to reach hysteria proportions. Obese babies? Really? I had a 10 lb 2 oz baby and an 11 lb 4 oz baby. They are 12 and 10 now and both perfectly fit. The oldest could stand to lose a few pounds, but she’s far from obese. Why don’t they spend some of this funding to say, I don’t know, look for a cure for breast cancer instead of worrying whether 9-month-old babies are obese? I’m all for health and fitness education, but this is just going WAY overboard.

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  3. Jennwith4 says:

    My thoughts exactly!! The doctor told my friend that her baby (1st one) was at risk for being obese! I couldnt believe it! I told her not to worry about it. And now, that child is her thinnest one!! Lol it’s just another way they are trying to take control of our lives.

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  4. David Sable says:

    As a nation, we tend to try to solve problems without addressing the cause of the problem. We say we are going to fix the economy without exploring the moral dimension of why we buy houses that we can’t afford and why we think it is OK to sell bad loans for a profit. So we take action, do bail outs, make adjustments but nothing is fundamentally changed in the heart.

    So also with obesity. Unless we come to grips with our American value of buying food in abundance that is cheap – and the social implications of getting that 99c hamburger to cost less than a head of broccoli, we can measure all we want but there will be no change of heart. The best thing we can do is educate ourselves, seek to make the intentional choices each time we shop or eat out and support food businesses were the dollar isn’t the bottom line. Buy better quality and you will find that you will be able to eat less and be satisfied.

    [Reply]

    Kelly
    Twitter: centsiblelife
    Reply:

    David took the words from my fingers. I do believe we are at a crossroads, but measuring the BMI of anyone (babies or kids) isn’t going to change anything.

    I have 4 kids, 3 of whom were either over or near 9lbs at birth. My oldest was an enormously chunky baby, but they are all lean and healthy now. Part of that is genetics on my side of the family, but the majority of that is because I taught them to eat well from their first bite.

    What I feel we really need is an overhaul of our food system, and that’s not easy, cheap or a popular choice.

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  5. I have kids on both ends of the “problem”. My bio kids are string beans. I could feed them 12 pizzas/day and they would still be string beans. I have three foster kids that are considered obese or “at risk” . They all eat the same thing. The foster kids were referred to wic, the amount of food they were given was ridiculous. Plus “Rice Krispies” is “healthy”? mmk. We are sticking with whole foods and normal portions and letting their bodies figure it out themselves. oh and my string bean child accompanied me to Wic, the “nutritionist” told me to put butter on EVERYTHING to fatten him up. Seriously.

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  6. It’s just one more way for the government to create hysteria so they can have greater control over the food system and our personal choices. Until the government stops subsidizing cheap food I don’t want to hear about the obesity issue.

    *delicately steps off soapbox*

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  7. Brandy
    Twitter: brandyellen
    says:

    I agree that the focus on obesity is insane and getting worse. I for one like to try to teach my children that eating as healthy as we can, with of course “fun foods” sometimes is fine but I also am trying to teach through example. By eating better snack foods, exercising daily. Even if I just walk ONE MILE because I am sick or have a busy day, I EXERCISE DAILY and this has shown my daughter and sons that daily work outs or a walk should be part of their daily routine.

    I think that if the world keeps making this a negative topic, so many will start having eating disorders, and be way to neurotic as your last sentence says! I agree with ya girl. Something positive must happen to focus on positive ways to increase exercise, healthy eating habits and education about being overweight rather than shoving statistics down our throats or “certain food” choices down our throats.

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  8. I think this one is a tough one – is the obesity epidemic real? Well, in the South where I live if I go to the less expensive grocery store in the lower income neighborhood I see that the majority of folks are by far obese if not morbidly so. The kids are often way too large too. I think instead of feeling under attack ourselves we need to look at it as a somewhat misguided attempt to address these issues. A good portion of Americans need help learning about healthier choices, and then we also need to work on making healthy options just as affordable as the value menu. Some of the statistics show that this generation could be the first that lives a shorter lifespan than it’s parents. Do I think they mean all of our commenters children? Not really. I do think that I know a few parents whose children are at risk – some in my extended family in fact where the children will not eat anything green because “We don’t eat that at home.”. I’ll continue to bring mixed salads, and crudites and other healthy options to family dinners and hope that I can convince someone to try a green bean. Anyway, that’s just my 2 cents. Loving this discussion. Oh, and indiscriminately BMI-ing children doesn’t seem to be the answer either, but what is? Education? Funding?

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  9. You are right that this nonsense will lead to eating disorders, especially if school-aged girls are issued reports as they enter those unstable jr. high years. At the age of 10, I was overweight – at least by my standard. I was painfully aware of it. I had no idea that what I was going through was normal. Most pre/early adolescent girls, just like preschoolers, put on weight before thier huge adolescent growth spurt. Unlike preschoolers, girls this age know our society values thinness. As a mom of five daughters, I can say our girls don’t need any more focus on body image. I’m spending much of my parenting educating my daughters (I have 5, 3 teens/tweens) about making good choices for life and cultivating true beauty which has nothing to do with weight. Sarah, I’m glad you got on your soapbox. I may get on mine too over this one!

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  10. what a great post! My daughter was 7 pounds over weight last year and I was SO SHOCKED. It’s no where near obesity levels I know, but at 5 years old 7 pounds is a big deal. It got me sitting up straight again and we just (AS A FAMILY) made changes in our lives that worked wonders. Vegetables are snacks, walking to school instead of driving is an absolute – the little things help the most.

    [Reply]

    Sarah
    Twitter: reallifesarah
    Reply:

    Vera, it is SO great that you are focusing on healthy lifestyle rather than the actual weight with her. I would so love to be able to walk to school – the disadvantage of living in the country!

    I am thankful that our schools have PE every day, plus recess, so I know they’re getting lots of exercise.

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  11. Thank you Sarah for writing a post about this. Babies and kids go through so many stages and what should be important is encouraging a healthy lifestyle not a neurotic one. Although I love them dearly, my parents were (and still are) so focused on body image and obesity (if I gained even a pound, I sure heard about it) that to this day I’m still totally paranoid about it. I will never, ever to do that to my own child – ever.

    [Reply]

    Sarah
    Twitter: reallifesarah
    Reply:

    Thanks for your comment Marie! It’s such a delicate balance between a healthy self-image and trying to be as healthy as can be.

    [Reply]

  12. Mindful Mom
    Twitter: mindfulmom
    says:

    Good post on a difficult topic. I think it is important not to label kids so we don’t create people who are obsessed with the body image. However, BMI could be a tool to increase awareness among parents that perhaps some changes in lifestyle are needed (not necessarily something the child should know and then the parent could evaulate if habits need some tweaking). As a pe teacher I see many teenagers who are very inactive and don’t make healthy food choices. As parents we need to teach kids how to eat better and more more, creating a culture where healthy living is the norm, not the exception.

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  13. I get your anger at labeling babies as “obese”, but the article is not focusing on several things which your commenters seem to feel it is.

    The study/article does NOT focus on body image, so for everyone saying we need to focus on healthy instead of body image – that is what the study was about.

    The study does NOT focus on weights at birth. For everyone talking about how jumbo their baby was when you had it, weights are likely to fluctuate.

    The article clearly states that
    1. Researchers were hesitant to use the term “obese” to describe such young people.
    2. “It would be pretty important if we could, instead of reacting to kids who are already obese, maybe try to get them on a healthy track at the very early ages of their lives,” Moss [the lead researcher of the study] said.
    3. The study was done, proving that many babies at nine months whom are chronically large stay that way into toddlerhood. This sets up, perhaps a dangerous path and shows that unhealthy choices and lifestyle are to blame and begin at a terribly young age.

    I for one am sickened by seeing obese parents walking around with adolescents that are obese. I’m not talking still carrying some baby weight. Many children carry a little baby weight, regardless of healthy lifestyles, until puberty. I am talking obese. It shows a complete oversight in judgment as a parent, I believe.

    And it starts with them as a toddler. You have the ability to choose healthy foods and activities FOR your child when they are 9 months or two years old. Good luck having that control when they are 10, very unhealthy, and are used to all the ho-hos and 12 pizzas a day (as stated by a commenter) and video gaming because you shook it off as “they’re a child! I don’t want them obsessed with body image! They’ll grow out of it!”.

    I agree, we are obsessed with body image as a culture, but this study, even if it is skewed in calling babies “obese” (and again, the study says 1/3 of nine-month-olds “are overweight or obese”, but does not say 1/3 “are obese”), the point of it is not about body image, it is about health and living.

    Any of you want to fight with the body image we push on our kids? Rail against Victoria’s Secret, Disney Channel, American Eagle, Abercrombie, and Seventeen Magazine. THAT is the enemy in working with adolescent and teen children (particularly daughters) – not this study.

    Thanks for allowing me the opposite take.
    Ashley Sue

    Study link:
    http://www.livescience.com/10367-9-month-olds-obese-overweight.html
    http://www.livescience.com/6110-chubby-babies-obese-teens.html

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  14. Couldn’t agree with you more. Just because something is the trend right now, doesnt mean all the hype is neccesary. Take the example of a child breaking a bone-should SRS visit every home that has a child that has been in a cast? I think not. Obviously, the guidelines are there for good, but if we only look at data on a piece of paper, we are being negligent.

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  15. In 20 years our country is going to choked by a bunch of skinny, neurotic adults who all look like super models and hate themselves for it. We won’t be winning any more wars or likely be able to defend ourselves, because those who fight are just “fascists” or Neanderthals. The 2nd grader who eats a small amount of candy will be jeered and shunned by his/her peers who instead eat vegan snacks and then work out for 3 hours to work it off.

    When these soulless drones grow up and have children, they will probably be more lenient on them than their parents were, thus, reversing this entire pointless cycle and destroying all that the current generation worked for.

    Just my thoughts, don’t take them too seriously.

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