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Is Fat Shaming Giving Healthy Kids Eating Disorders?

How The Fight Against Childhood Obesity Gave My Kid An Eating DisorderI think a public service announcement on PBS Kids is giving my son an eating disorder.

It may sound a little sensational, but we’re quickly heading down that path.

My son is 6 1/2. He’s 49 inches tall which puts him in the 90th percentile for his age. However, when it comes to his body weight, at 47 lbs, he finds himself closer to the 50th percentile. Combine an above average height with an average weight and you get a very skinny kid.

Are we terribly worried about this? No. Kids ebb and flow, we’re doing our best to feed him healthy meals, and we’re working on upping his portion sizes to get him to have more with each meal. We’re aware of it, he’s not unhealthy, but nonetheless he’s getting media messages that are drastically adjusting his view of himself.

We like to have PBS Kids on during pre and post dinner time. Word Girl, Wild Kratts, and Sid The Science Kid are shows we enjoy because they are nurturing our kids’ love of animals, science, and helping them with literacy. Those programs are all win, BUT in between the shows are PSAs directed at the parents.

One they’ve been running as of late stresses the dangers of childhood obesity and talks a lot about cutting down on sugars, and getting more exercise. Healthy habits, to be sure, but along with trumpeting that message, they’ve made my son think he’s overweight and unhealthy.

That has led to conversations at the dinner table, trying to avoid fat-shaming and show our boys how people come in different shapes and sizes — and the important thing is being healthy no matter your shape. Daddy could eat more healthy food and exercise more to get “to the middle,” while Zacharie needs to finish everything on his plate and have a balanced diet so he too can get “to the middle.”

We’re trying to avoid words like “fat” and “skinny” and instead choosing to talk about that healthy middle ground where we all focus to be.

TV isn’t supposed to raise my kid, I get that.  And I guess I should be thankful that the tv spots have prompted a discussion around our dinner table about healthy habits. But at the same time I wonder if a PSA about overweight kids pumps a message into the heads of kids that don’t need it, and causes other problems as collateral damage.

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