Should we teach our children that its not okay to be FAT?

Meghan - posted on 10/11/2010 ( 36 moms have responded )

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USA Obesity Rates Reach Epidemic Proportions

58 Million Overweight; 40 Million Obese; 3 Million morbidly Obese
Eight out of 10 over 25's Overweight
78% of American's not meeting basic activity level recommendations
25% completely Sedentary
76% increase in Type II diabetes in adults 30-40 yrs old since 1990

Childhood Obesity Running Out of Control

4% overweight 1982 | 16% overweight 1994
25% of all white children overweight 2001
33% African American and Hispanic children overweight 2001
Hospital costs associated with childhood obesity rising from $35 Million (1979) to $127 Million (1999)

Surge in Childhood Diabetes

Between 8% - 45% of newly diagnosed cases of childhood diabetes are type II, associated with obesity.
Whereas 4% of Childhood diabetes was type II in 1990, that number has risen to approximately 20%
Depending on the age group (Type II most frequent 10-19 group) and the racial/ethnic mix of group stated
Of Children diagnosed with Type II diabetes, 85% are obese

I want to teach acceptance to my children. But if you teach too much acceptance then children will think that it is okay to be that way. I believe that it's okay to teach children that everybody is different, but where do you draw the line? Especially when it comes to their health and their life?

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Charlie - posted on 10/11/2010

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i think it needs to be dealt with sensitivity , teach them its good to be HEALTHY , make sure they learn what real food is , how much is is a good proportion for their age and activity level , eat when they are hungry not as a tool for boredom or to help emotionally , encourage them to be physical .

Lets not focus on the negatives of being "fat" lets focus on the positives of being healthy , and health comes in a variety of sizes and shapes .

Ez - posted on 10/12/2010

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Condeming overweight people is not the answer here. Promoting a healthy diet and active lifestyle is.

Sharon - posted on 10/18/2010

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I don't teach my kids that being fat is bad.

I teach my kids that being lazy is wrong.

I teach my kids that being over indulgent is wrong.

Tracey - posted on 10/13/2010

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Does anyone else's school teach self esteem classes? We have them for 1 hour a week. They would probably have a more positive effect on pupil size than stigmatising fat kids.

Kimberly - posted on 10/12/2010

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"My kids school has gone totally over the top pushing the healthy eating / keep fit / healthy message for the last 3 years and it has not made the slightest difference to the number of fat kids (or staff !!)"

That is because it is the parents' responsibility to instill the message at home. Schools can only do so much to help. They can feed them healthy at school and push the message but it goes to the wayside if parents feed their children fast food and other crap at home.

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36 Comments

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Amanda - posted on 11/05/2010

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I agree to teaching your children to be acceptant to different people. I try to teach all 4 of my children ages 7,4,3 and 2 that people are all different and it doesn't matter if they are fat or thin, rich or poor. It depends on the person themselves! If a person in my 7 year olds class was rich and heavier and was totally rude and had unexpectable behavior towards my son than I would teach my son to stick up for himself. I don't think weight makes or breaks anyone but with hollywood being the way it is now than people are expected to be thin and that's unfair. I am a smaller girl even after 4 children because my family has a high metabolism and my 2 older children are thinner and my 2 younger ones are lil butterballs for now but I don't treat any of them different. As long as your child is comfortable than that's all that matters! I like people and have friends depending on their personality not color height or weight!

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Meghan - you raise some really good points. I think the best thing we can do is teach our kids that we can only change ourselves (eg with diet and exercise) but we can't judge other people or where they're at. We can talk about the problem of obesity in our countries etc but never condemn any individual person who is over weight.

Jenn - posted on 10/23/2010

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I don't know if I really "teach" my kids anything about being fat or not, but we just eat healthy foods and talk about them, like maybe "mmm, this orange tastes good and it's good for us because it has vitamin C in it and that helps us stay healthy."

Meghan - posted on 10/19/2010

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I like that Sharon. Probably the least PC response I have gotten. I was pretty disappointed there for a while.

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Kathy-It takes alot more then diet, and like Becky said it can be medical. I don't have tons of junk food but we always have some and I don't see a problem with rewarding kids with treats. What the problem is with childhood obesity is parents not encouraging enough activity. The gaming systems, the computers, put restrictions on them, I know a 8 year old kid who has all that crap, is way over weight, but can't pump his legs on a swing.

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Tracey in school we had learning mentors who held after school sessions designed to boost self-esteem =] I loved them!

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The best way to deal with the issue of childhood obesity is to just concentrate on providing healthy, wholesome food, NOT junk food, NOT take-away or pre-prepared food, NOT processed food.

Becky - posted on 10/18/2010

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That puts a stigma on being fat and creates a bias for when kids come across fat kids and they think it is not okay. It sets the stage for bullying and other things as well.



What can be done is teaching them to make healthy and nutritious choices for food and to include daily exercise and activity during their daily routine.



Obesity can be a medical issue too, from what I read about thyroid issues etc.

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I intend to teach my children that everyone is different and everyone should be accepted regardless of theie size, shape, religion, race, gender etc. I will also try to ensure they have a healthy diet too. I am overweight, have been since I was about 15 but I've been told it is most likely because I have PCOS which can cause you to be overweight and makes it very difficult to lose weight.

Stifler's - posted on 10/12/2010

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i believe it's a case of giving kids whatever they want in case they hate you. people are so scared their kid will hate them if they put the foot down on snacking and going in the fridge and playing video games whenever they like rather than compulsorily mowing the lawn and walking the dog.

Lindsay - posted on 10/12/2010

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I won't tell my kids it's not ok to be fat but will emphasize on the importance of being healthy. This is an issue that starts at home and I feel strongly about that. As a parent, it's your responsibility to provide a healthy environment. Don't keep the endless junk in the house. Turn off the TV and go outside with your kids. Sign them up for sports. I firmly believe that the influx in obesity is a direct result of the influx of lazy parenting.

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I try to encourage my kids to eat healthy, if they ask for potato chips, I offer an apple. I don't think its ok to teach its bad to be fat. But I think there is definitely a problem and the schools aren't getting anywhere with over weight kids because they go home and sit around eating junk and playing video games. I try to teach my kids to be active and tell them that its healthy to stay active and not be glued to a tv all day.
My ex has my oldest convinced she needs to go on a diet and makes her be on one at his house. She is just right for her weight but he tells her she fat because she has a huskier build. The kid is 7 at the end of this month and 45 pounds how is that overweight?

April - posted on 10/12/2010

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I do not repeat do not think its ok to teach children that it is not ok to be fat. One because if your child should grow with a gene mutation to their thyroid then what are they supposed to do. It is ok to teach our children to be healthy but it has been only recently when being what we call over weight was not accepted. So teach healthy expecially for girls with all the eating disorder.

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"It's not okay to be fat." is a definitely NOT a good thing to teach, IMO... Why wouldn't we focus on: "It's important to be healthy.", "It's important to respect and take care of your body."





It's also important to teach children acceptance of others... Not everyone will be healthy, not everyone will be skinny but we are all human beings and deserve respect.

Kimberly - posted on 10/12/2010

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For me, teaching my daughter acceptance of people will include, all shapes and sizes, color, nationality, sexual orientation, religion, political affiliation ect. Eating healthy also starts at home. I intend to always provide nutritious meals for her and not expose her to constant junk. I also won't be neurotic about it because I don't want to create eating issues like bulimia or anorexia. Moderation is key.

Sarah - posted on 10/12/2010

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Yeah, I totally agree with the others. The goal shouldn't be to discourage being FAT, it should encourage being HEALTHY. Teach your kids the importance of eating a balanced diet & staying active.

Tracey - posted on 10/12/2010

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My kids school has gone totally over the top pushing the healthy eating / keep fit / healthy message for the last 3 years and it has not made the slightest difference to the number of fat kids (or staff !!)
I would rather they spent time improving the kids appalling literacy skills.

Lucy - posted on 10/12/2010

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You ladies are such a sensible bunch!



I agree that, rather than focus on what we DON'T want our kids to become, we should emphasise what we DO want them to become. Instead of "It is bad to be fat" we should say "It is great to be fit and healthy".



I don't want my children to be bullies, or uneducated, but I don't think I've ever said "it's bad to be a bully" or " you mustn't skip school". The alternatives "It makes you feel good to be kind to other people" and "School is great fun" have a much more positive and productive impact. More carrot than stick, I'd say!

Krista - posted on 10/12/2010

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I agree with all of the other ladies here -- it's best to teach your kids to be fit and healthy and active, so that they can run and play and do whatever activities they want to.

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I never use the word fat..i teach my daughter we need to be healthy and have a healthy heart to run and play.I teach her about choosing the right foods and having a treat once in a while is fine but not all the time(not a bag a sweets everyday or snacking on sugar foods all day as long as you eat a good dinner etc).Its all about healthy foods and exercise( shes a very active child)i dont bring body image into it ever.

Stifler's - posted on 10/12/2010

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YES. I don't think we should say "it's not okay to be fat" though. Maybe, it's good for you to be fit and healthy?

Brandy - posted on 10/11/2010

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I think we should leave "fat" out of it and encourage "healthy". Show your children how to eat properly and maintain an active lifestyle. Also show them that it IS okay to treat yourself or to give yourself a day off when it is needed. It's all about balance.

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I agree w/ teaching them that it's good to be healthy. Teach them that it's not ok to be fat and that might encourage bullying of the kids that ARE fat.

Joanna - posted on 10/11/2010

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You need to teach them about health and moderation, and how to be happy and caring, and about tolerance and differences. None of this "it's not okay to be ____." You teach them how to be a decent person, and help them lead as healthy a life as possible, and let them figure out the rest.

Jessica - posted on 10/11/2010

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I'm a curvy girl, and according to a BMI I am very overweight, but you know what? I'm extremely healthy. They even tried to prove I wasn't while I was pregnant but sending me for all kinds of tests...they all came back extremely positive and the one Doc just said that with a person as obese as me it was rare to be that healthy, There is a difference between being obese and fat and being bigger and healthy. I love my curves and could care less what that Doc says or the BMI, I am in great health in everyway and they proved it for me by trying to prove otherwise. I think teaching kids to be healthy and that people really do come in every shape and size is a much better way to go about things. Saying fat is bad is just another way to bully, bash and be cruel to one another.

Johnny - posted on 10/11/2010

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I'm not sure. How about teaching them that it's not okay to be fat, or rude, or a bully? Is it necessary for them to think being mean to fat people is acceptable just because they don't think being fat is a good thing. I'm fat, and I don't want my daughter thinking that it's a good way to be.

JuLeah - posted on 10/11/2010

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If a kid is fat, they are not bad, should not be teased or bullied. It is okay to be fat.
Tach kids that it is good to be healthy. Teach them to make choices about food and help them put activity into their lives. Teaching them that we treat all people with respect, is different then teaching them to be like others.

Caitlin - posted on 10/11/2010

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In my mind, it`s NOT okay to teach a kid it's not okay to be fat. That would lead to your kid possibly bullying and being overly cruel to other kids who are fat. Honestly, sometimes it's not the persons fault they are fat (though it's rare in my opinion).

We need to teach our kids that to be happy adn healthy, we need to keep our bodies as healthy as possible, and that means eating good foods in good portions and getting exercise as well. We need to teach them that making the right choices now can affect what happens later, and show them how much better and stonger they feel when they eat the right foods.

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