Don't Let Your Kids Grow Up Fat, Writer Says

fat-family-300x144The holidays are over, and so we’re faced with a barrage of articles about exercising and weight loss. The Y I go to is packed with people, a good half of whom I’ve never seen before (and I will bet you $5 right now I’ll never see most of them again after about February).

But for some families, the struggle to lose weight isn’t just a January thing. It’s a year round issue, which we face with varying degrees of success. This story from Alternet offers suggestions to “keep your kids from getting fat.”

It’s remarkable for a few reasons, one of which is that the writer is a dad, and addresses the story to dads, including stay at home dads who are responsible for the grocery shopping. I always love stories that acknowledge that caring for a family’s health and well-being is a dad’s job too, one most handle just fine.

I also liked the idea that parents absolutely must not isolate an overweight child from the rest of the family. Instead of making that fat kid eat different foods or smaller portions, feed the whole family healthier fare. Rather than peeling the fat kid away from the computer to exercise while the rest of the family sits around playing DSi, make activity part of the whole family’s day. One of the experts he quotes points out that kids are frequently emotional eaters and isolating them and making them stand out will just make them sad, and thus encourage them to turn to food for comfort all the more.

But I’ve got to take huge, serious issue with two points. One, he makes the same mistakes most people do in confusing “thin” with “healthy.” I’m especially sensitive to this one because I’m by no means thin, but I work out hard several days a week, eat unprocessed, healthy foods, and have enviable blood pressure and decent cholesterol, glucose and fitness levels. I know plenty of people who might be a size 4 but never exercise or eat a vegetable, and even more who never met a food they didn’t think could be improved with the addition of sugar, salt, or artificial flavors and colors. And worse, they’re training their kids’ palates to think that’s what food is supposed to taste like.

The other is his suggestions for family activity –”wrestling on the bed with boys and dancing or playing Wii Fit with girls.” Yes, of course because dainty little ladies HATE to get physical. I’ll have to tell my daughter that, right after she stops wrestling her brother and dad. And I’d better make sure my son’s fondness for shaking his groove thing stops soon, before we turn him all girly and whatnot. Sheesh.

And finally, he suggests downloading pics of fat people and putting them on the fridge to motivate yourself. Yes, because let’s teach our kids that fat people ought to be mocked or treated as objects of horror. Instead of treating them as, well, people.

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