I may have mentioned this before, but in the eating disorder advocacy world, there’s a lot of talk about Michelle Obama’s new fight regarding childhood obesity. Yes, obesity is a problem, but you have to understand the person or the family has a whole before saying that their problem is based solely on what they eat. Sometimes there are genetic issues. Sometimes there are mental health issues like depression. Sometimes there are economic issues and they’re doing the best they can. Or sometimes there are food habits or behaviors that needs to be revamped. Whatever the reason, it’s not a black and white answer, and isn’t going to be changed if you just put kids on a diet. You need to show them a healthy lifestyle of moderation between veggies and sweets without any sense of restricting.
While that’s just an overview, I came across this article on Forbes.com called “Dads, Daughters and Diets” that I found very interesting because while Obama is trying to appeal to the masses as concerned parents, they may actually be hurting their daughters.
From this other article, Obama has recently said that Malia was “chubby” and their pediatrician said there was something off. My immediate reaction was 1. kids grow differently, 2. what was she eating or what were the family’s eating habits? and 3. why in the world would you even say that about her to the public? She’s so young and already in the public eye because he’s in office which is fine, but then keep those kind of comments to yourself or between your family. Now, it was said that this was a few years ago, so maybe they did change some habits that were for the better, but as the article said, we, as a country and as medical professionals, have confused health with weight which can be very confusing for both kids and parents.
More importantly, Obama, as her father, is the most important man in a her life. We want to be their princess- where do you think the expression came from?- and be forever loved. Now, he’s said something negative about her. How do you think that makes her feel?
And as Jeanne Sager said in a blog on Babble, Mrs. Obama is crossing a thin line. With now a public and critical tone about her daughters, she puts them at high risk to develop an eating disorder so they can stay this perfect little girl. Like physical health stems from healthy behaviors, mental health stems from healthy thoughts and behaviors regarding their own emotions. You never know how someone’s going to feel or react to something you say and when it’s negative, who knows how they’re going to internalize it. Watch your words!
Going off of a recent post I wrote, there’s also lot of talk right now about BMI and the number on the scale as incomplete measures to base health. So by using these as a focus in her fight against obesity or even for her children, kids might start to learn more about numbers than healthy behaviors. Changing habits or behaviors are successful ways to promote health and allow our bodies to level off at our own natural “healthy weight.” Criticizing and focusing on that number on the scale is not. Boy, do I hate numbers!
So what do you think? Are we too fearful about being obese that we’re going to a “health extreme”?