Childhood obesity and cyber bullying

Kate - posted on 09/25/2012 ( 24 moms have responded )

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I was on pintrist today (shocker right?) and saw a pin about how to teach your daughter healthy body image. In looking at the page and some links I came across a campaign that was run to discourage childhood obesity. The most offensive was a picture of an overweight child with a sign underneath that said "this is not big boned." An other had an other overweight child with a caption that said something to the effect of if this continues I might not out live my parents.



Honestly, I was disgusted. In my opinion the solution to the obesity problem is to encourage healthy choices. Posting pictures with awful captions simply makes these children feel more awful about themselves. It also sends the message to other children that it is okay to comment about someone's weight. I'm not overweight so I cannot speak from personal experience, but I can recall others in my classes at school being relentlessly tormented about weight.



Any other opinions? Is this adults bulling children or simply a way to get a message across with out sugar coating it?

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I think the intention of those ads is to combat the new idea across America that it is okay to be obese as long as you "love yourself" or whatever. I see it on Pinterest all the time--an image of a very large woman is posted and tons of comments follow: "Good to see a REAL woman" "That's what today's woman should be!" "Beautiful!" etc. All the while, the comments under images of a thin woman urge her to eat a hamburger, "Too thin--disgusting!"



In America, we have gone so far in an effort not to offend those who are overweight that we are convening ourselves that an obese lifestyle is okay as long as the obese person is happy with their body, but the truth is, it is NOT okay. With all that added weight comes a myriad of health problems that can and will shorten their lives--weather they are happy with the way they look or not.



I don't think it is okay to taunt, harass, or bully those who are overweight, but it is no worse than ignoring the fact that they have a problem completely. They need help.



Many people are overweight because of health issues, I understand that, but the majority of the overweight population in the US is overweight because of our lifestyles. Fast food, desk jobs, dependency on cars, etc. I know people who don't even exercise a full hour each day! In earlier decades, there was no need for exercise because daily chores burned sufficient calories and we ate less prepared and processed foods (not to mention serving sizes were MUCH smaller), but today, because of our lifestyles, we must make an effort to stay healthy.

Lacye - posted on 09/26/2012

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There is a huge difference between a curvy woman and an obese woman. I am obese. Am I happy about it, of course not! I've been trying to lose the weight for years! But I do feel that instead of having children holding these signs, they should have had adults holding them. I know obesity in children is a huge thing but it's still humiliating for these kids, even if they were being paid to do it.



Also, I don't make fun of fat people or skinny people. I find bullying especially disgusting and I wouldn't do that to somebody else.

Kristi - posted on 09/29/2012

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I think it's kind of similar to the Scared Straight program to keep influenceable teens out of trouble. Ads like the ones mentioned are screaming, "YOU CAN'T IGNORE THIS ANYMORE!" Some people just don't respond to conventional, common-sense approaches to beahvior modifications, as well as others. Even moreso, with the current ousting of "skinny women." Stereotyping them all as bitches or snobs or anorexic, etc. For example, after I started gaining weight, I knew my second husband was not happy. He encouraged me to exercise. He bought me a gym membership, he offered to run with me, etc. I was too ashamed and embarrassed and I was afraid to fail so I didnt even try. He, eventually started cheating. I figured I was already fat so what's one more candy bar. I figured I would never do any better so I let it happen over and over. As most of you know, we are separated and 1500 miles apart. But, he had to force me to leave. I was certain I would not survive. It took all that and then some before I had the courage to try to lose weight. I finally lost 52 pounds over the last 15 months. My point is that sometimes you need a cold, hard smack across the face to get in gear. I think that is what those ads are intended to do.



I don't think feeling "bad" (not like shame or self-loathing, just a little guilty, maybe) because you're overweight is that bad of thing. It is your conscious reminding you you're doing something "wrong." Kind of like telling a little lie. (no debates about lying!) You know you shouldn't but it felt like the right thing to do at the time. You know you shouldn't have told your boyfriend that your favorite teddy bear was an old bear your parents gave you instead of a gift from your ex-boyfriend that you just wanted to keep because it's cute, but it sounded better than the truth. You knew you shouldn't have had a Whopper but it sounded and tasted better than a salad. Kind of dumb examples but you get the idea. A little self motivator to do the right thing next time around.



It is also very difficult to eat healthy, especially for picky eaters. I bought 2 little cartons of blueberries, 2-raspberries and 1-strawberries. It was almost $25. That lasts about 3-4 days, if we stretch it, for my daughter and me. You know how many boxes of pop tarts and bags of chips I could get with $25?! Or at the gas station I can get a 32oz soda for 99 cents but Vitamin water or juice costs upwards of $2 or more. I'm on a small, fixed income, I use my "emergency" credit card to get groceries sometimes. What are people with low incomes supposed to do? Even with food stamps, it is very difficult for a family of 4 or more to afford healthier choices.



As far as kids getting enough exercise, that is difficult to do also. My daughter loves sports. She started gymnastics last year and I was able to get assistance from a charity for her to take classes. Then she got asked to be on the team and it is over $2500 a year. I know to most that probably isn't much but that is more than 10% of my annual income. We were so excited for junior high because school sports are free...NOT. It is $150 per sport plus the cost of equipment. There is one nice park here and we used to go when she was smaller but it is not easy to get to so she can't just ride her bike there. There are no kids in the neighborhood so it gets boring outside. For a lot of people the parks are rundown and dangerous. There are many dangerous neighborhoods in our country. Kids can't just go play in the yard like we used to. I'm not looking for excuses to avoid being healthy or blaming everybody but parents for our obesity problem. I just believe these are valid problems our society faces. I wish I had the answers.

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I agree with LMCBW's comment that obesity is often overlooked as an eating disorder. I feel that we need to bring more attention to this fact and emphasize that obesity is just as dangerous as anorexia or bulimia, and it often requires a lot more than a diet and exercise program to overcome it.

We have no issues with sending anorexic and bulimic people to mental health professionals, but the obese are sent only to the gym. In many instances, insurance will pay for mental treatment for anorexia and bulimia, but often will not cover mental treatment for those suffering from obesity. Obesity IS an eating disorder, whether it is just from poor lifestyle choices or from a mental condition. In many cases, a diet and exercise program is all someone needs, in many other cases, there is a root cause for the over eating, but we cannot find that root cause by toiling away at the gym--they need mental healthcare.

Denikka - posted on 09/26/2012

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Little Miss, I AM overweight. At least 50lbs over where I should be. I've been heavy all my life. And I've dealt with bullying through school because of it. And I agree whole heatedly with Petra K.

Sugarcoating things does NOTHING to help the sufferer. Call it what it is. A person who drinks too much is an alcoholic. A person who is reliant on chemicals not prescribed for a medical conditions (and some who ARE) is a drug addict. A person who is obese or morbidly obese is FAT.

The first step in getting help and in fixing a problem is admitting that you have one. A person who drinks too much isn't going to be committed to fixing the problem if all they'll admit to is that they *maybe drink a bit too much sometimes*. They have to flat out admit that they are alcoholics and they need help.

Having someone who weighs 600lbs admit that maybe they sometimes overeat a little bit, or admit that they could probably stand to lose a few lbs. . . .that's not going to be productive in the long run. If you don't think that there's anything really WRONG with what you're doing, what motivation do you have to change things?

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Cass - posted on 11/03/2012

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there's no better way of getting the message across than saying the truth sincerely as it is. may seem harsh, but its necessary when problems need to be fixed. that's what our voice is for, speaking truth. not in a condescending way though, i'm totally against that. saying what you have to say in a "i want to help you" sort of way, is totally appropriate and shouldn't ever be taken personally. and no matter what you do or where you go, there will be people who put others down to feel good about themselves. but keep your head up, they are the ones to be ashamed, and that's not our problem.

Eri - posted on 11/02/2012

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We are an amazing ball of complicated. By we, I am referring to everyone of us who has responded to this thread and responds out there to matters about obesity and bullying, some incompetently.



What isn't complicated about these ads? For me, there's absolutely nothing. The ads are quite clearly targeted at an adult audience. Specifically, at parents, guardians, grandparents, all kin and close friends who are responsible for children in the family, in the neighborhood, in the classroom, to name a few.



What does this mean? These ads are another similar form of dragging out a difficult truth into the light that ADULTS can healthily interpret and respect it for what it is. Which is what? It's a message about more awareness for a difficult truth: obesity. Repetitive much- I am trying to point out the plain and SIMPLE obvious here because it seems it is NOT.



Yes these are children modeled and not adults. From where I'm standing (same planet as everyone else here), it seems to me it's because this concerns ALL of OUR children where we are concerned the most. Yes I also share the concern of said children seeing these ads, but once again, that's where OUR role as the grownups/parents/guardians/adults- come in! We are all teachers in this sense, to do our diligence in talking to our children!!!!!!! It's pretty rudimentary IMO for adults to be the ones who feel sensitive to their kids being bullied or be reminded of the bully issue because of an ad directed at an adult's comprehension level! The ads are for us to comprehend and if you're concerned your children (or any children, as they are very distinct from US adults!) will misinterpret them, have some courage and faith- talk to them! I apologize for the numerous exclamation

marks but it seems this too isn't clearly obvious to some parents by now, and needs to be stressed to the max.



I am really sickened by adults who seemingly are ready to pounce into the smallest shape or form of 'the blame game' and that is what certain of the responses here demonstrate. "Let's take an ad directed at adults concerned about spreading awareness for Obesity and be incompetent about it by misinterpreting it with Bullying (insert assumptions in here) towards our children and/or obese people." Bad enough the purpose and point of the ads went over a few heads, but then to focus on that, take it personally and feel hyper sensitive? Recipe for misunderstanding and being unproductive.



By the way, the ads are just a message- an innate piece of color and paper- for those who felt even slightly threatened the ads might make obese kids 'feel bad'. WE have the 'final' conversations with our kids. I embrace this amazing gift because it is a gift to shape another person's life.



And some of us seriously wonder why some children are very insecure in the first place... It really only stops when parents stop- and grow more courage and faith around their home. As for bullying (and some will say obesity too)- there isn't enough simplicity practiced IMO- aka communicate, communicate, communicate. Too easy right, talk to our children? But it is, because they learn everything from us and we are all an extension of one another! That's where we can start and don't stop. It's a tough repetitive boring job at times, but it's a simple job! Failing hope shouldn't be an option for parents IMO. But I digress as is the tendency with these matters of the heart that get mixed up with more urgent, serious matters of HEALTH.

Triwan - posted on 10/24/2012

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"This is not big boned" and "I might not out live my parents" to me... is not directly speaking to the child and telling them "YOU'RE FAT!". Nor is it giving permission to other children to comment about someone's weight. It's a factual statements for Parent's to think about, then do something about. It is a matter of fact, but true statement.

Samantha - posted on 10/07/2012

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Some children are stocky, some go through a chubby phase and then have a growth spurt, but overweight children that drink soda and sugary drinks, chocolate milk, eat candy, processed "kids" foods like mac n cheese, chicken nuggets, etc every day need to get the message. There is no sugar coating it.

Sherri - posted on 10/07/2012

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It is true I agree with those and that is not bullying it is simply truth!! There is a huge difference. What is so horrible about saying this is not big boned and that they won't out live their parents??



True....true and yup true. Sorry I am okay with it.

Teresa - posted on 10/06/2012

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I four children don't get healthier, they WON'T outlive us...and it is RARELY being "bigboned". My son is 8 and weighs 52 lbs. He is average on the charts at the dr's. BUt his cousin weighs tice he does t the ame age and his mother says, "SH's just solid." and I'm thinking, "yeah. solid fat." Until parents, who it sounds like these ads are aimed at, open their eyes and realize that their kids are overweight then they will NOT outlive us.

~♥Little Miss - posted on 09/28/2012

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I have no problem admitting that I am "hyper sensitive" (as you put it) about this subject. Yup. Sure am.

Rosie - posted on 09/27/2012

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i think its a way to get the message across without sugar coating it. it isn't being aimed at kids, it's being aimed at parents. it's also not as if they are saying "fatty fatty, come play piggy" or anything. they are simply stating facts. of course it would be better if they followed up with ideas of how to make better eating choices, but i think it's high time we stop sugarcoating this issue. my 5 year old goes to school with the little sister of someone my oldest son is friends with. she weighs at least 70 lbs, and that was as of a few months ago when her older brother told us how much she weighed. she looks like a little bowling ball with arms. it's sad, and what makes it worse IMO is that they are dirt poor, and everyone in that family is obese or overweight. of course healthier food costs more...we should stop subsidizing corn to make cheap HFCS, so snack cakes don't cost less than apples.

Kathy - posted on 09/27/2012

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First off - I would not let my daughter be in such pictures - paid child model or not. I would not want them bullied over it (and it very much could happen at school) nor would I want them owning the label of "fat" unless the label was true. Some people are bigger than others - they are not necessarily "fat."



I come at this from the perspective of someone who thinks a range of weights and body types can be healthy - although I do agree that too fat and too skinny are real health problems.



I do not know if shock tactics work - if they do, I suspect it is briefly. Everyones knows fat is unhealthy - and yet obesity is epidemic. The cure for obesity is not shocky ads.

Tracey - posted on 09/27/2012

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Would you rather hear that you may not outlive your parents when you are young enough to do something about it, or hear as an adult that you have a chronic health condition due to an unhealthy lifestyle and you will die 10 - 15 years early because of it?

Petra - posted on 09/27/2012

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@Little Miss - you made two assumptions based on my post, neither of which is correct. You seem to be hypersensitive to this topic.



I was not insensitive in any way. I'm actually very sensitive to the issue of obesity as my mother is morbidly obese and I detest people using ugly terms to describe her. I struggle with it, as even "morbidly obese" is a loaded term these days. I tend to stick with "quite big". I am very well aware that my mother does not simply have an eating disorder, she has a very unhealthy preoccupation with food. If she were even remotely open to seeking treatment, she would need counselling in conjunction with exercise and proper diet.



Several years ago I put on a significant amount of weight after injuring my knees. I have been overweight, though not obese. These days I hover around my usual, and yes, my usual is thin. I've been called bobblehead, anorexic, gross, stick figure, etc. I get teased about disappearing when I turn sideways. People assume I'm frail and don't eat. I've never made a cruel comment about another's weight, thin or heavy, yet I catch extremely negative comments from people who don't even realize they're being insulting. I am actually very fit and eat extremely well. I work out daily and have a very lean physique. There is nothing unhealthy about me, but my body type is no longer common.



The norm in our culture is to be overly sensitive to obesity because being obese is more and more common. This is a tremendous problem when a life-threatening condition is commonplace, so much so that children frequently suffer from it as well. Ads like this point it out, bluntly. Obviously, they are hitting the mark. Parents control their kids' diets, parents need to hear these messages.

Stifler's - posted on 09/27/2012

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p.s Little Miss you are spot on about obesity being a form of malnutrition and mental just like anorexia and bulimia.

Stifler's - posted on 09/27/2012

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I was always a big boned kid. I'm still large and love food especially sweets since I've had the kids. Didn't help that my parents were skinny. I was fatter than them by 12. Every afternoon mum made cupcakes or pikelets and then would be all concerned about my weight. I often wonder if she was really just that uneducated about the effects of carbohydrates when you have homework to do and novels to read and then you're not allowed to do a sport outside of school?



Anywho enough ranting. We need to encourage parents and kids to participate in community sport and get out there doing stuff instead of tv and video games, rather than just go on and on about childhood obesity. And also make it known that sugar is just as bad as fat. Some people just don't know. Also I find that kids who aren't active in sports or dance or anything tend to be the ones bullied because they are an outsider and others know each other outside of school, more than they are fat or underprivileged. (I come from a small town so maybe it's not like this in bigger places).



I am loving your comment Kelly, about people bagging out skinny people, saying they are anorexic and have a burger and then glorifying larger women. I hate that! Everyone is beautiful and it's okay to be thin!

Denikka - posted on 09/26/2012

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I can definitely agree with you there Little Miss :)

I guess I mispercieved what you were driving at with your original comment.

It IS about more than quick fixes. Putting down the big mac or extra serving or large slice of cake is only part of the battle.

I think the thought that *fat people are lazy* comes from the past when it was pretty much true. When people had to work hard for everything they had, they were generally thinner and healthier. It was only the wealthy who could afford to eat extravagantly and not do enough physically to work off those calories. I think that mind set has continued to carry over to today. When you eat REAL food (not most of the overprocessed crap we have today) it's a lot harder to become obese.

The mindset hasn't switched to accommodate the change in the types of food we eat. Now it's hard to stay thin/healthy because of the food, not even taking into consideration the physical activity part of things.

~♥Little Miss - posted on 09/26/2012

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Denikka, we all have different perspectives. I have been over weight, thin, and in between. my issue is with the comment "The whole idea that we should embrace obesity (real women have curves, etc.) " Women who have curves doesn't simply mean she is over weight. There is no need to sugar coat, you should know me enough by now to know I don't. I just felt her comment was completely lacking sympathy for those that do have weight issues. Eating disorders are bad, and mainly people think of anorexia or bulemia as an eating disorder, and completely over look obesity as an eating disorder and instead instantly associate over eating with being lazy. People throw quick fixes at people who are over weight. Chances are, if there are obese children in the home, the parents are the same way. Not all, but the majority of whom I have met, this fits.

~♥Little Miss - posted on 09/26/2012

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Petra K, by your post, CLEARLY you have never been over weight. Insensitivity to those with weight issues usually comes from those that are thin.

Petra - posted on 09/26/2012

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I think the ads are aimed at parents - these are adult messages and, at the end of the day, adults are in charge of what goes into their children's mouths. I disagree that the captions are awful. They are blunt and to the point, much like the warnings on a pack of cigarettes. Sugarcoating topics like this does no good to those afflicted.



The whole idea that we should embrace obesity (real women have curves, etc.) also doesn't do any favours to those afflicted. Being in denial about a serious health risk is only enabled by people who say things like "he/she is just big-boned". Obesity will kill you. Why tiptoe around it when it's clearly a problem in our culture?



And yeah, cruising on skinny people and using kinder euphemisms for overweight people really bothers me. Apparently it's totally okay to insult thin men & women but crass to use the wrong term to label someone who is overweight.



I think ads like this are a step in the right direction.

Denikka - posted on 09/26/2012

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I agree with the other two. And I AM overweight.

No, seeing images like that don't make me feel good about myself. They're not supposed to. But why SHOULD I feel good about living an unhealthy lifestyle? Why should I feel good about being fat? About doing things that will rob me of years of my life? That will rob my children and grandchildren of years with me?



It isn't nice, but it can be effective. I will admit that on the rare occasion I go out to a buffet, if I see a severely obese person there, I will eat WAY less. It's that in your face reminder of what can/will happen.



Like Kelly said, it's become okay to be fat and those who are skinny are shunned and insulted (and I will say that many skinny people aren't healthy either though). And it shouldn't be okay. Being a *curvy* girl is one thing. Being 100lbs over weight is NOT being curvy.

Tracey - posted on 09/26/2012

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Don't know what pintrist is but re the pictures, these were probably posed by child models so I doubt they were upset by the photos as they would applied for the job and would have been well paid. They must have a responsible adult with them at all times during the photo shoot to ensure they were not ill treated.



Should we use "offensive" captions / adverts? Yes, in some cases it is the only way to get the message accross and a lot of parents who make excuses such as he has a healthy appetite, big bones, takes after Uncle Fred who lived to 105, like to see a child clear their plate, its puppy fat etc need a shock to make them wake up and realise their children need help.



Kids are going to make comments about each other for any reason whether it is size, weight, hair colour, big nose, bad at sport, failed a spelling test, they always have and they always will. Doesn't make it right but its a fact of life. My kids school has lessons which cover healthy eating (over and under weight) positive body image and self esteem.

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