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Fit Girl Series – Obese Teens on Oprah

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Yesterday, in  Fit Girls: Weight = Moral Failure, we talked about how having a moderately overweight child isn’t necessarily a moral failure, but a side effect of prosperity.

And then there was the Oprah Show with those severely obese teenagers.

Sometimes its a form of neglect. Those parents are guilty of of neglect.

These are parents who were given the “red zone” warning at doctors, in schools, for years and then stopped on the way home at Sonic for the Giantest Grease Meal and the 44 Oz Dr. Pepper with a side of fried cheese sticks.

I don’t even know what to say about a high school kid that’s over 300 pounds. I don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings. But, those parents sounded like they were physically and emotionally neglectful of those children.

While walking Ainsley 3 times around a mile long track recently, I saw another family with another daughter. That little girl was probably 100 pounds and only around 5 years old. She was crying and throwing a fit every step of the way. I was so proud of those parents I almost walked up to them and gave them a high five but I didn’t know how it would be received. It was a quintessential moment of “you’ll thank me later.”

Everyone DVR Why Our Kids Are So Fat with Dr. Oz on Oprah today.

Fit Girls: Weight = Moral Failure

Fit Family = Fit Girl

Image source: Oprah.com

24 replies
  1. Audrey says:

    It’s interesting…I volunteered at my kids school to help the school nurse with weight and height measurements. We measured the 1st 3rd and 5th graders. This is not a small school- approx1000kids total. Nearly all but 2 first graders fell into the healthy BMI range!
    When we hit the 3rd grade, that’s where it all fell apart. What happened there? I wonder. More tv, more video game playing? Thus less energy and or interest to run around like a 1st grader?

    Audrey’s last blog post..Rock Star Kids? Not mine!

  2. Tracee says:

    I have lots of theories – not being allowed outside to play. Over-scheduling of families. The average kid eats fast food 3 times a week. The abandoning of recess and PE or Gym so they can pass their standardized tests. Parent malaise about saying “no” over and over and over. Yes, more tv and more video game playing and computers too. Companies sneaking sugar substances with complicated names into food and then making the packaging difficult to understand.

  3. Alexis Saint says:

    Check out the Marathon Kids program in Austin Texas. My kids participated when we lived in Austin and recieved praise, honor, and status for completing 26.2 (or more) miles over the school year. They still wear the shirts!

  4. Tracee says:

    I would love to get Ainsley into something like that. We have a long term goal of doing a 5K for a good cause. I know she can walk it. I know I can walk it. The challenge would be to run it. But, I’m trying to get her to love an athletic challenge. Remember the Presidential Fitness Award? Instead of ditching PE and Gym we should make kids do something like that again as a required course.

  5. jessica says:

    My sister is a pediatric gastroenterologist(sp?) and she can’t believe how many kids are overweight and her words to the parents just fall on deaf ears. It is abuse, in my book

  6. mimbles says:

    I have 2 fat children and one stick-thin child. Please be careful about judging people without knowing very much about them. You cannot know for certain why people (children or adults) are the size they are just by looking at them and you cannot know how hard parents have tried to do the right thing when you haven’t lived their lives.

    mimbles’s last blog post..Blogosphere Book Circle reading list

  7. Tracee Sioux says:

    Mimbles, I mean to hurt no ones feelings. Absolutely not you or your children. Please see the previous article absolving parents from moral failure.

    I, myself, was baffled that my child was in the “red zone.” After a lot of investigation I now realize how much I didn’t know about what was in our food, all the outside sources of food, the big fat liars in their marketing, etc.

    I hope you’ll stick around and openly discuss the issue. I realize it’s a very, very sensitive issue for everyone. Kids, parents, doctors, etc.

    But, I believe it’s important enough, considering the consequences, to have an open discussion.

    Tracee Sioux’s last blog post..Fit Girl Series – Obese Teens on Oprah

  8. Tracee says:

    From Ashley via email: absolutely! Or the toddlers that you see paraded around the talk show circuit!? At that young an age especially, how in the world could a parent NOT take responsibility? A toddler has literally NO opportunity to fix themselves snacks, supper, breakfast, lunch…to go to a vending machine, to buy their own food, etc. As a parent of two very stubborn, very picky eaters, I can agree that YES: It’s hard to make them eat something they don’t like, it’s hard to sit through a meal full of whining and negotiations over how many green beans one must consume before dessert..and it’s dang hard to let them be hungry later that night if they refuse what’s been given. But dang! It can’t be any harder than watching your toddler struggle to sit or stand! Or having them taken away by Child Services for neglect!

  9. Audrey says:

    hmm kids just got home and asked for cookie…
    I said, “eat a banana first. Then we’ll talk…”.
    They’ll probably get busy playing now and forget the cookie. Maybe after a healthy dinner if they eat their veggies. oooh parenting…

  10. mimbles says:

    Tracee, I’m not going anywhere, I’m pretty thick-skinned and I never thought for one minute that you meant any offense.

    However, when you and others write about “parents with obese children” as a monolithic group, you are talking about me, and a lot of other parents just like me. Parents who are Weight Watchers veterans, who have been reading and understanding food labels since they themselves were kids, who do their shopping in the fresh food aisles of the supermarket, who answer the “what’s for afternoon tea?” question with “Fruit and rice crackers, don’t ask for anything else” maybe 5 times a week, whose children do not watch commercial television (I kid you not, my children see almost no TV advertising), who take their kids to swimming and soccer…you get the idea.

    We are not all stupid or ignorant or neglectful – yes, some parents of fat kids are all of those things but so are some parents of skinny kids. You’re not going to see an obese child with parents who are doing everything right on Oprah, that wouldn’t get the ratings.

    mimbles’s last blog post..Blogosphere Book Circle reading list

  11. Sylvia says:

    I think exercise as a goal in and of itself is positive, but we need to separate it from a number on the scale. As Mimbles said, a person’s size is due to a complex set of variables. It is easy to blame the parents, but some of these kids may have other medical issues that play a part.

    What do you think about these two articles on medical studies about childhood obesity? One is about newly discovered genetic mutations that affect body size, the other study found that size was 77% attributable to genetics.

    Can we emphasize fitness and not have it tied to weight? Other studies show that fat children and adults who exercise are healthier than their counterparts who don’t – regardless of size. I’ll say that again – regardless of size. That’s great news. All children can benefit from being more active, even if they don’t lose weight – and some don’t.

    I don’t doubt that some of those children have parental issues, but lots of thin children do also. My neighbor feeds her kids nothing but junk, and they are both thin. But are they healthy? Thin does not equal healthy, fat does not equal unhealthy. The amount of joyful movement, healthy whole food, and self-love are far better indicators.



  12. Tracee says:

    You bring up some fantastic points Sylvia.

    Exercise is good. Not exercising is huge risk, not the least of which is depression and feeling bad about one’s body.

    But, I’ve never met a 400 pound 100 year old person. I think the studies will eventually show that you can be healthy and large while young, but the older you get the higher the risk and the less your odds for a healthy life are if you are heavy.

    I don’t blame parents primarily. The parents are primarily responsible though. Because they are the only people in a position where they can be.

    I think the primary blame should land on the BIG FAT LIARS who make our food and then invent a billion ways to lie about what they put in it and and make parents feel they need a PhD in nutrition and consumer economics just to make a healthy peanut butter sandwich for their kids.

    But, this is America and evidently we think marketers and manufacturers should be allowed to be BIG FAT LIARS for whom profit is their only motive.

    As parents, though, we have to respond to it and do better for this generation of kids. And I know we can.

  13. Tracee says:

    I don’t doubt what you say Mimbles. There probably are parents who do everything right and still have a problem with their child’s weight.

    I, and my family, are not this kind of exception. We do most things right. We try really hard. But, we have to try – a lot harder than some families. Our weight, for us in this family, is a result of exercise and food. It’s a result of our lifestyle. We eat too much and move too little. It’s a struggle. We don’t eat “just one cookie.” We eat some cookies cause they are freaking delicious! We try to stick to the 100 calorie cookies. We struggle between labels and finances – choose the organic health food over the food we can afford? Not a fun choice. We spend a lot of time talking about packaging and ingredients and debating which ones really are healthier according to this study or that, this diet or that.

    In this family we are sometimes stupid, ignorant and neglectful of our health. But, every day we try to do better. Tiny little choices add up to big consequences. We make good tiny choices where we can. We’ve seen much improvement. We’re committed to even more improvement.

    I imagine that most families in America are more like mine – with “room for improvement” – than like the families who do everything right and still have the weight problem.

  14. mimbles says:

    Tracee, no one does everything right all the time! My point was more along the lines that there are people who assume that if a family has weight problems they must be doing it wrong all the time and that families without weight problems must be doing it right all the time and, as you clearly well know, nothing could be further from the truth.

    mimbles’s last blog post..Blogosphere Book Circle reading list

  15. Sylvia says:

    Studies may very well end up proving that the older a fat person gets, the less likely they can have a healthy life. But given that study after study after study after study has shown that weight loss (even healthy weight loss) results are not sustainable in the long run (less than 10% can keep any weight off for more than 5 years, and the numbers keep going down after that), what would you have these teens do?

    Yo yo dieting has been proven to cause even more health problems than not dieting at all. And most people end up even fatter! If they can even lose the weight in the first place. There is a reason why weight loss on a weight loss program is atypical. I think these children are in a very difficult place. Damned if they do, damned if they don’t.

    Boy, I could talk about this all day, post studies, link to fat old people, link to fat people who do triathalons etc, but I realize that most people are not open to learning more beyond the weight loss industry “facts” that most of us are inundated with and believe to be true. It’s much easier to blame the parents.

  16. conversemomma says:

    It starts at home but the culture of our society perpetuates it. Think of the mixed messages. Girls see skimpy thongs in store windows but then are assualted with Burger King and Starbucks on every other corner. Have you ever eaten a school lunch? There is nothing healthy in chicken nuggets or apricots swimming in sugar-sauce. Women are taught to keep it down, their fears, their thoughts, their needs, themselves…so they find comfort in food, which just makes us attack their sense of self even more. It is a no win. We need role models that are not stick-thin. We need to encourage healthy living by being role models who love ourselves.

  17. joann says:

    medical issues = bad nutrition- read The China Study
    Eat to Live— there are tons of books out there with truth. A lot of people think they are feeding their children healthy, when in reality, they aren’t. Quit listening to what the “government”says is healthy “gotta drink your milk, eat your meat because it’s the only form of protein out there” really, a lot of it is lies, find your own truth.

  18. ann says:

    I have five healthy, fit, thin children. I realize part of it is I am lucky. THe other part… We never eat fast food, we drink water, we grind our own wheat and make our own bread (and breads not all it’s cracked up to be either.) We do not have tv, nor do we have video games. They are all in karate. Processed food is a huge rarity in our home, most of what we eat is homemade whole foods. I educate my children on how to eat, and I also exercise and they see this as an important thing in health. Granted, we don’t eat like most of society, but my children are also never sick and I haven’t had to take them to the doctor in an incredibly long time over an illness. Sure, I let them have treats, I splurge and buy ice cream sometimes, we make cookies, but they don’t overeat. Yes, I’m blessed, but I also work hard for it as well. Educate yourself, it’s the most powerful tool in your families health.

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