General chatter - Emotions and the word "obese"




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ebb&flow
11-17-2010, 02:19 PM
This morning I was struck (again) by the amount of emotion a lot of us (including me) have about our weight. There was this show on NPR about a debate that was taking place about schools informing parents of children who are overweight and obese. Many people called in stating that the school had no business sending a note to the parents stating that their child was obese. At first I thought "Wow, that is a tough subject." but then I thought that it's only a tough subject because of the emotions attached to our entire country's view on weight. Seriously, the school does inform parents when their children are experiencing medical issues. They do scoliosis checks, lice checks, vision screenings (my son got a referral for his vision and I was grateful that they alerted me to his vision problems before it affected his school work, not angry), when I was in elementary school eons ago they did dental checks.

The emotionality of the situation became clear to me when a dad called in and said "I got a letter from the school stating that my daughter was obese. I couldn't believe it. My daughter is beautiful. The last thing you would think when you look at her is 'obese'". And there it is. Why can't his daughter be beautiful and obese? It's a medical term that has been become an emotional land mine by our personal and cultural views of the supposed character flaws of "fat" people. I have emotional issues related to my weight, so I understand. But really, should we let that interfere with ensuring the health of our children? I think we should get to a point where we can look at it as the school saying "your kid has a medical issue that could have a serious impact on their health and life, but you can help them." It's not like they told the kid in front of the class. They sent a confidential letter to the parents.

What do you think?


QuilterInVA
11-17-2010, 02:31 PM
I can't understand why parents feed their children junk until they are classified as obese and then are surprised when the school lets them know the child is headed toward life long health problems and probably a shorter life span than the parents. That's right. This is the first generation that will have a shorter lifespan than we do. We've feed them to death.

I think the school should inform the parents and if they don't take steps to correct the situation, they should be considered child abusers.

junebug41
11-17-2010, 02:34 PM
Well, I think of the difference between treating a weight problem in a child and treating something like a vision problem or lice. It's so much more complicated than a trip to the eye doc or a script for Rid-X. Lice can spread to other children. Eye problems pose issues with learning (not being able to read the chalkboard). Being overweight really doesn't affect the well-being of other students, nor does it affect the learning of overweight students. I realize on a broader level that being overweight can be detrimental to learning, but in an indirect, complicated way that isn't remedied by a letter saying "your child has a weight problem".

If schools wanted to take a more integrated approach to managing weight in students I would be all for a letter home, but this isn't the case. In fact, it seems rather ambiguous. What do they hope to accomplish? As an obese child, I was weighed in gym class like everyone else; my parents were certainly aware that I had a weight problem and just tried to manage it as best they could. Weight issues in children are tricky and the solution begins and ends at home, IMHO.


Water25
11-17-2010, 02:42 PM
Were the letters home part if an integral program? I am all for the school starting a 'get healthy' type program or event. I think parents would be receptive then.
Kids have gotten so big alot of parents don't realize their kids are overweight. The kids look 'normal' compared to their classmates.

ebb&flow
11-17-2010, 02:50 PM
The school sent home letters to parents stating the student's weight, a healthy weight range, suggestion to see the pediatrician (I guess for more comprehensive medical work up and plan- the same reasons adults go see doc or weight issues), and also provided suggestions for healthier lifestyle. They suggested 30 of activity with parents outside a day, suggestions for healthy snacks, etc. Honestly, I don't think the school can provide the comprehensive plan for families and kids. It can only screen and suggest the doctor. Who knows what else the kid is facing who has been determined to be obese. I used to work with kids and I actually know of two kids (one elementary age) with diabetes. Not every parent takes their kids in for check ups and physicals unless they are playing sports (I'm not sure that is likely for some of these kids) or getting shots every couple of years. It's likely the parents may know the kid is "chubby" but may not know that the full impact of that or if their kid has a medical problem like pre-diabetes.
The visit to the doc is not a cure all, but he is a starting point. My dental health wasn't impacting other kids and didn't impact my school work immediately, but it was an issue that wouldn't have been recognized or addressed anywhere else.

sacha
11-17-2010, 02:51 PM
I've been overweight, but never obese.

In school, I was very underweight (I'm talking 90ish pounds at 5'5 in grade 11 & 12... naturally). I also got comments from my PT instructors - for opposite reasons (eating disorder? no...), so I can understand feeling targeted but not for being obese.

Anyways, I think Water makes a good point- a lot of parents simply don't realize the trend that their child is taking after. Is it the school's place to say something? Well, that I don't know. I wish schools would start with healthy (and affordable) cafeteria options, nutrition classes, more PE, more open sports. Some schools don't even have recess anymore.

Most of us still went outside and played as kids. You don't have time to eat a lot of junk when you are bicycling into a creek area to play on a tree. Now, they stay inside on the xbox and have a bag of doritos.

It's the parents fault.. it's the school's fault.... it's everyone's fault for not taking a stand. It's not the child's fault - it is our role as adults to do something.

ruby2sday
11-17-2010, 02:54 PM
I don't think it's so bad for a school to send this kind of letter out. Maybe it will wake some parents up. Obviously, a parent can see when their child is severely overweight/obese, but doesn't want to face up to it, so they become complacent. Maybe a letter will make them face the fact that their child is in danger. Obesity is a real health concern.

Probably a lot of the parents that are upset, are upset because they feel responsible for their child's weight, and feel like they have failed them as a parent.

That being said, if the school is going to choose to do this, I think they should make sure they are doing what they can on their side to help fight obesity in children .. things like proper nutrition programs in the school, and healthy eating choices in the cafeteria.

shannonmb
11-17-2010, 03:22 PM
Like some others mentioned, I would be extremely interested to hear about the physical education/health program at the school sending the letters out. I would also be very interested in what foods they are serving in the cafeteria. I totally agree with the poster who said this is not the kids' fault they are obese. :(

I imagine most parents are aware when their children are overweight/obese, and I think that if they are truly burying their heads in the sand about it, then a letter like that sent home would probably be met with hostility and anger toward the school, which could be counterproductive. I think a better approach than paying someone to send out all those letters would be to come up with a really inspiring, interactive curriculum that would teach kids more thoroughly about proper nutrition and the value of exercise. Obviously they aren't learning it at home.

Now if the parents are already actively involved in their kid's health and are trying to make changes, it would help immensely if the poor little guys wouldn't have to sit across the lunch table watching the other kids eat school lunch on pizza or chicken nugget day while they eat a turkey sandwich.

So I guess the bottom line for me is, the schools need to put up or mind their own business.

ebb&flow
11-17-2010, 03:50 PM
I imagine most parents are aware when their children are overweight/obese, and I think that if they are truly burying their heads in the sand about it, then a letter like that sent home would probably be met with hostility and anger toward the school, which could be counterproductive. I think a better approach than paying someone to send out all those letters would be to come up with a really inspiring, interactive curriculum that would teach kids more thoroughly about proper nutrition and the value of exercise. Obviously they aren't learning it at home.

Now if the parents are already actively involved in their kid's health and are trying to make changes, it would help immensely if the poor little guys wouldn't have to sit across the lunch table watching the other kids eat school lunch on pizza or chicken nugget day while they eat a turkey sandwich.

So I guess the bottom line for me is, the schools need to put up or mind their own business.

I do think that teaching kids proper nutrition is important. I don't know if they still do, but in my health class we covered that and female/male reproductive stuff etc. On the other hand, while the schools (I believe it is multiple schools not just one) are sending these letters home, I think they should address their school lunch and the fact that they have soda machines in schools. Also, The parents are ultimately responsible for the foods brought into the home and the meals that are prepared. I was aware of healthy eating when I was younger (though not taught by my parents), but was powerless over the groceries or meals my parents got from fast food places. Even the healthy stuff was doctored with fat and salt added, or fried. My mom's mac and cheese had sugar in it! As i got older I was able to negotiate for the money she would use for Burger king in order to go to the grocery store beside it to get yogurt and fruit. It would take a really determined kid to use the information the school gives them to go against family culture and lifestyle to eat healthy. Being the kid in the lunch room with healthy lunch is one thing, being the kid in your family (probably extended family, too) trying to go counter to that very same thing is a whole different ball game. It must start with the parents. They have the control of finances and set the tone for the rest of the family. How easy is it for those of us trying to lose weight when our spouse or roommate is sitting beside us with chips, beer, pizza, and cake and we're adults. Work is not my biggest downfall, the kitchen at home, hubby, family/friend gatherings are my biggest challenges.

Sunshine73
11-17-2010, 04:02 PM
I read about this today as well and I'm truly conflicted. What is the expectation? That parents will suddenly look at their overweight/obese child and go "whoa, I had no idea you had a weight problem"? Because I really think that most parents of children with weight issues are well aware of those weight issues and, as we all know here, there are no simple solutions to the problem.

Personally, I would much rather see an integrated nutrition program at the schools where children aren't targeted as being overweight or obese but rather all children are taught through classroom lessons and example (crappy school lunches? I'm totally looking at you here) how to properly supply their bodies with the nutrients that they need to function best.

I was an overweight to obese child. It wasn't that my mother fed me "junk" like fast food or a lot of snack foods, etc. It was that we were poor and a lot of the foods we could afford weren't the healthiest for us. They were often very high carb, high salt, high everything because it was cheap. It was also food that didn't "stick" with us because there was very little beyond simple carbs (LOTS of rice and potatoes). Unfortunately for me this was a recipe for disaster weight wise. Not a whole lot that could have been done about it though - it's just the way things were.

rockinrobin
11-17-2010, 04:09 PM
That parents will suddenly look at their overweight/obese child and go "whoa, I had no idea you had a weight problem"

But some don't realize that they're obese and that obese is dangerous.

Like the father that said, "my daughter is beautiful".

It does need to be separated - beauty and weight.

So perhaps it's the parents that need to be educated. Not quite sure how to go about that though.

Obesity brings on real medical issues (not to mention mental ones) but is very often *caused* by emotional reasons and ignorance.

It's a very interesting topic.

Pint Sized Terror
11-17-2010, 04:22 PM
I think the reason the parents are upset is because they realize their kids are obese and probably feel some kind of guilt because of it. There's a difference between overweight and obese. I'll be totally honest. I feel awful for the kids who are very overweight. And I'll probably take a lot of flak for this, but parents who have obese children probably aren't living the healthiest lifestyle either, and by having their child's weight problems pointed out, they might feel like their own issues are being spotlighted.

I think what the school is doing is fine. Like someone else said, it's not like they are lining kids up and marking them with a big red O for obese. It's confidential.

cherrypie
11-17-2010, 04:29 PM
I don't know. My mother cooked all organic and never had much junk food in the house yet me and my brother both had weight problems. It was a big treat for us to go to our skinny cousins house and see the twinkies and stuff they had in their house all the time.

It really isn't a simple issue.

Eliana
11-17-2010, 04:51 PM
I think the school should inform the parents and if they don't take steps to correct the situation, they should be considered child abusers.

Oh ouch. :( I know you didn't mean it this way and that I am one of many who could really take that the wrong way but ouch.

I have a little boy who is obese. It breaks my heart every day. I fed him better than I fed myself, though I admit I did not lead by example. Even now, with our house rid of junk completely he will eat 5 apples in a day. That's a lot of calories.

I would never blame my child for his weight, but it isn't my fault either. He's just a big boy. Maybe it's genetics. He also has low muscle tone, as many obese children do. Or at least it's the other way around...many children with low muscle tone are obese.

Now if I see a baby with pop in his bottle...yeah, blame the parent. ;) Otherwise though, just like with a weight related issues, I try to give the parent he benefit of the doubt.

That said, I'm ok with the school notifying the parent. I am not ok with the school notifying my child!! Not at all.

***Oh, and sorry. I didn't mean to pick on your post in particular. It's just the first I read. ;)

Rana
11-17-2010, 05:04 PM
I think this is a very interesting topic too.

But I think a lot of parents aren't really facing their child's weight problem. I know of someone who insisted, all through their daughter's high school years that she was chubby (overweight) because it was BABY FAT.

That it would eventually melt off... It didn't melt off her freshman year of high school, or her sophomore year or her junior year or her senior year or her freshman year of college or her sophomore year of college and now, finally that she's a junior in college, they are beginning to address her baby fat.

I think a lot of parents can see their kid and not see health problems, but assume it's "baby fat" and that it will magically disappear one day.

Robin41
11-17-2010, 05:14 PM
I'm not in favor of letters being sent home from school for anything other than school related purposes. Problems with math, behavior, being late, etc., that's fine, send me a letter. My kid's weight is not the government's business. I will worry about my kid and they can worry about class-size, books and whether we can trust sixth graders not to freak dance if we have a school dance.

The nanny state mentality where government feels the need to tell us what's good for us is a really dangerous road to head down. Each one of us probably thinks that we don't need to be told how to best raise our kid so why do we assume that the guy down the block needs the govt. to help him with his?

There are a lot of people who are upset about this not because of an issue with their own child, but because there is a principle behind it which makes a lot of people uncomfortable.

Pint Sized Terror
11-17-2010, 05:19 PM
Eliana, I agree that parents who have overweight children should not be considered child abusers. But like you said, parents who make no efforts at all to feed their kids healthy foods, or actively make poor decisions, are in the wrong.

About your son, my son is the same way. He isn't overweight at all, but if I would let him he would eat all day long. Not because he's hungry, but because he's bored, frustrated, upset, or even if he sees someone else with food. We used to have an open door policy on healthy snacks. He was allowed to have whatever he wanted as long as it was a healthy choice. Eventually he was eating several pieces of fruit, 1/2 a BIG bag of baby carrots etc. every day. I eventually set ground rules. He isn't allowed to get anything without asking first. I hate this, but this way I can help him figure out if he's eating because he's hungry or bored etc. He's also not allowed to eat anything for an hour before meals and an hour before bed.

When I was a kid my family was poor. We lived on cheap food. Corn in my frozen dinner was as close to veggies as I got on a regular basis. Thankfully, I didn't get overweight though. I think it may have been because I was always moving as a kid. I was very hyper. My little brother and sister both became overweight as kids and both struggle with obesity now.

There are programs available to people now. You can buy healthy food at Aldi's, where before you could only get super processed "food" products. I understand that there are legitimate reasons for children to be overweight, but there are ALWAYS ways to combat it. It may not be easy, as we all know, but for a lot (not all) of families I'm betting it's as simple as healthier food choices and turning off the TV or computer and getting some exercise.

Pint Sized Terror
11-17-2010, 05:23 PM
There are a lot of people who are upset about this not because of an issue with their own child, but because there is a principle behind it which makes a lot of people uncomfortable.

This is why it's such a hot issue. I don't like the government stepping in either, but some parents (not allll) need a reality check.

pammi2003
11-17-2010, 05:23 PM
I can't understand why parents feed their children junk until they are classified as obese and then are surprised when the school lets them know the child is headed toward life long health problems and probably a shorter life span than the parents. That's right. This is the first generation that will have a shorter lifespan than we do. We've feed them to death.

I think the school should inform the parents and if they don't take steps to correct the situation, they should be considered child abusers.

I wholeheartedly agree.

Growing up, my parents NEVER, ever had healthy food in the house. My mom was (and still is) addicted to Coca Cola and that is all she would buy. And fruit juices. We never had water. For breakfast, she would always make us pancakes and sausages. We always ate fast food. Maybe 3-4 times a week.
They never taught us the importance of healthy eating. I am going to break that cycle with my daughter. I think schools advising parents about their children being obese should be an eye opener for them.

kittycarlson
11-17-2010, 05:28 PM
I was an overweight child and remember the embarrassment and humiliation of weighing in gym class in front of the other kids. Interesting the same thing happened 15 years later when my daughters were in school. They were slim and very athletic however they came home and described being embarrassed about having to "call out" their weights. One daughter developed an eating disorder imediately after the weigh in as she believed that the other kids weighed 85 lbs and she was 105 lbs. She was a nationally ranked distance runner yet had a distorted body image and thought she was fat. (This didn't start until the school weigh in.) Within a few months she was seeing a psychologist and did weigh 85 lbs.
My son was heavy and ended up quitting sports as other kids teased him and coaches left him sitting on the bench. He was picked on and bullied in school, sometimes even by the teachers. One teacher's explanation was that he was trying to "motivate" him to lose weight. This led to his sitting in front of the TV and computer and getting heavier and less fit. We knew he was heavy and I tried to serve healthy meals and encourage physical activity but it didn't really help. (I probably sabotaged all of our weights at the time by following current believes and serving a very low-fat, high-carb diet.
I guess I have concerns about how this public labeling would be handled. Would they send letters home with the obese kids? which of course all the kids would figure out. How publically would they be weighed?
If schools could help by improving school lunches and not offering sugar filled drinks even juice in school. If they could encourage physical activity and participation in sports in school for all children and not just kids like my daughters who were athletically gifted. Do you know how many children are cut each year from sports programs because they aren't as good or haven't been fortunate enough to participate in "traveling" teams to improve skills since they were little. Well I guess that is my rant. I just hate kids being labeled.

nelie
11-17-2010, 05:33 PM
I wholeheartedly agree.

Growing up, my parents NEVER, ever had healthy food in the house. My mom was (and still is) addicted to Coca Cola and that is all she would buy. And fruit juices. We never had water. For breakfast, she would always make us pancakes and sausages. We always ate fast food. Maybe 3-4 times a week.
They never taught us the importance of healthy eating. I am going to break that cycle with my daughter. I think schools advising parents about their children being obese should be an eye opener for them.

I was an obese child and my mom knew it because she struggled with her weight all her life. I was taking to many doctors, nutritionists, etc. I was probably the only 10 year old that knew how to read a nutritional label. We had no junk in the house and no convenience foods. She enrolled me in after school activities where I'd be able to get exercise, etc. My mom knew I was obese and was struggling with trying to help me.

Beyond parents like mine, there are also parents who don't know anything about nutrition themselves. They don't know how to feed themselves, let alone their children.

Ciao
11-17-2010, 06:17 PM
http://i845.photobucket.com/albums/ab15/JeMappelleSierra/Photography/divider-2.jpg
I would feel a lot more comfortable with
my doctor telling me I was overweight, obese, etc.
than the school telling me this. I feel that
if the school is going to inform you (or your
parents) about your weight, then they
should also step up and take responsibility
for helping their students become more healthy.

It's kind of hypocritical on the school's part.
"Yeah, your child is overweight, but we're also
helping to contribute to it by buying inexpensive
meals with lots of fats and sugars."

I'm not blaming all this on the schools.
Everyone is the cause of kids becoming bigger
and bigger. The community, society, the parents,
the child, fast-food places, etc.

I'm just saying, if the school is going to make
the parents aware of their child's weight, then
they should also be aware of what their
feeding their students.
http://i845.photobucket.com/albums/ab15/JeMappelleSierra/Photography/divider-2.jpg

lizziep
11-17-2010, 06:25 PM
I think those letters should also go out with a note asking for money so they can keep physical education in the schools, so they can have sports equipment, so they can afford to feed children quality food for lunch rather than garbage and foods filled with hormones.

I feel like there is a problem, but it's not just up to the parents to fix it. The schools have pop machines in their hallways and have cut sports and PE and then send you home a note saying your kid is fat, or they are hyper active. maybe you shouldn't have let the kid have a jolt, then only 5 minutes between classes, fed him sugar for lunch, and then wonder why he can't sit still or focus? Please!

pipernoswiper
11-17-2010, 06:40 PM
I don't know. My mother cooked all organic and never had much junk food in the house yet me and my brother both had weight problems. It was a big treat for us to go to our skinny cousins house and see the twinkies and stuff they had in their house all the time.

It really isn't a simple issue.


you are absolutely correct! and in our school district, it doesnt matter what they get at home, because it is ALL crap being served in the cafeteria, only way around that is to pack a lunch, which we do, but there is still vending machines! just saying..............

shannonmb
11-17-2010, 06:46 PM
I do think that teaching kids proper nutrition is important. I don't know if they still do, but in my health class we covered that and female/male reproductive stuff.

I was aware of healthy eating when I was younger (though not taught by my parents), but was powerless over the groceries or meals my parents got from fast food places. Even the healthy stuff was doctored with fat and salt added, or fried.

I guess I'm not talking about a lesson or 2 on the food pyramid, but a really comprehensive culture of healthy lifestyle at the school -- which would include what they serve in the cafeteria and what their fitness program looks like.

No doubt that the schools will not be able to reverse the problem on their own. I wholeheartedly agree that what's going on at home is the biggest issue. BUT, I think the question is whether sending the letter is productive or not, and I don't think it is. DO teach the kids who don't get the lesson at home to be passionate about nutrition and fitness, maybe they'll even take it home and share. DON'T anger and alienate a bunch of parents, most who probably don't know how to do any better than they are. Now if they were offering some kind of fitness and nutrition counseling to parents (free of charge), along with the letter, I may feel a little differently about it. Just a "your kid's fat, have a nice day" seems pointless to me. I personally don't believe there are a lot of obese families with obese children who don't already know there's a problem.

I was an overweight child and remember the embarrassment and humiliation of weighing in gym class in front of the other kids. I just hate kids being labeled.

Kitty, sorry about the trouble your daughter had, but I am so on board with your post. I do believe that however it's done, it's not as confidential as they are trying to pretend it is. I remember way back in the day, we had our weights taken during SWIMMING, in our bathing suits! AND the same day did our scoliosis test -- bend over in your bathing suit in front of all the boys (9th GRADE!), and let us check your back. :mad: If my daughter were humiliated in that way now, I can't even imagine who all would be hearing from me. I hate kids being labeled, too! :mad: And I'm sorry, but just because a kid is skinny is NO guarantee that they are living a healthy lifestyle. ALL kids need to learn about this stuff in an ongoing, pervasive way at school, or the school can just shut up about it!

Wow, there was my rant! I guess I'm channeling my inner humiliated, embarrassed middle schooler here. :dizzy:

fattymcfatty
11-17-2010, 08:04 PM
This makes me think of the "self-fulfilling prophecy". How many kids are getting this label and then believe that they are destined to be fat, etc.?

There is a big difference between a child and adult. I had several male cousins growing up who were short little chunkers in middle school and by high school over 6 feet tall and thin. Kids have growth spurts, etc.

Horo
11-17-2010, 09:32 PM
At the time I would have been terribly embarrassed about it, but I honestly wish my elementary school would have sent my parents a note that said I was obese. Maybe, just maybe, they would have chosen to be a bit more proactive about what they fed me and the examples they were giving me as a kid. Eventually I did take it upon myself to change my lifestyle, learn how to cook for myself instead of the junk my parents fed me, and lost 65 lbs on all on my own from from age 13/14 to 14/15, but that was only after I sprung up to 210 lbs at my highest weight and was seriously obese for someone at my height and age. No matter how healthy my lifestyle is now(I'm 16 currently, 17 in a couple months) I imagine that there will always be issues and after-effects I'll have to deal with for the rest of my life.

Beyond how great it would have been for me to never have gotten to that point in the first place, I really do wish that once I was there- an obese kid in elementary school- that my parents got the smack in the face about the reality of that before I decided to take action on my own. Over the past year I've had conversations with my father that absolutely shocked and angered me... where I would mention to him, about my weight loss, how I was once obese and he would always respond with "you weren't obese, you were just a little chubby!" A little chubby? 210 lbs on a 12-13 year old is just a LITTLE CHUBBY!? Growing up, I was always so aware(and miserable) about my condition as a very overweight kid that I always thought that my parents were as aware of it as I was. Looking back on it now, I realize that there was some serious denial going on there... denial that allowed them to continue teaching me horrible lifestyle practices and bringing home fast food meals for the family to eat for dinner every night.

I think "obese" very well SHOULD be an emotional word. Perhaps it takes the emotion in that word... an emotional smack in the face that says "HEY, YOUR KID IS OBESE" that might inspire the very people who are letting this weight epidemic in kids happen to make the change we need for a healthier society of young people.

ebb&flow
11-17-2010, 11:22 PM
Horo, thank you so much for sharing your opinion. It really adds to the discussion as I have been wondering how a young person would feel having this letter sent to their parent. I think that the majority of perspectives on this topic have been from parent point of view or from an adult remembering the distant past of being an overweight youth.

I do wonder how common your reaction would be or if it would be embarrassing/unwelcome for most elementary kids. would that discomfort be worth it because of the chance at a healthier life they would get? I would love to see the outcome studies about how well this approach works or doesn't work compared to a school who doesn't notify parents.

junebug41
11-17-2010, 11:51 PM
Horo, thank you so much for sharing your opinion. It really adds to the discussion as I have been wondering how a young person would feel having this letter sent to their parent. I think that the majority of perspectives on this topic have been from parent point of view or from an adult remembering the distant past of being an overweight youth.

I do wonder how common your reaction would be or if it would be embarrassing/unwelcome for most elementary kids. would that discomfort be worth it because of the chance at a healthier life they would get? I would love to see the outcome studies about how well this approach works or doesn't work compared to a school who doesn't notify parents.

Well, I'm 28 and consider myself still very much a child in certain circumstances :lol:

My memory isn't foggy. My parents were total health nuts. No soda, no garbage, family dinners, bike riding, hiking, basketball team, tennis lessons... I should NOT have had a weight problem as a child. But I did. I had a problem with food. I snuck it. I was predispositioned to it. It's just the way it was.

Really, I promise, my parents were proactive in providing me with a healthy lifestyle. Compared to some of the garbage my friends ate all the time? I practically lived in a farmer's market. So yeah, assuming that my parents were clueless is a little out there to me.

I'll tell you one thing, though. I fully believe that it begins and ends at home because for as overweight as I was, I learned healthy habits early on. I love my vegetables. I enjoy being active, and did at my highest weight. My parents instilled a foundation so that when I was ready, I pretty much knew what to do. If the schools want to tackle building those foundations I'm all for it, but first they have to stop contributing to the problem before they start signing those letters.

vdander24
11-18-2010, 12:15 AM
Horo - Really well said. I think there are blinders that parents put on with their children in lots of situations, with weight and health being one of them.

I don't think the government should have to tell us our kids are obese. BUT, we also shouldn't need a law saying we have to wear seat belts... common sense right. There is a reason the shampoo bottles and Laundry soap bottles say DO NOT EAT.

Seriously, I think the letters are a start... of something... of anything to get people focused on their childrens nutrition and health. But the next thing is to get into those cafeterias and get some really good, unprocessed food in there so parents can make those changes.

The biggest tragedy I see is not the parents being offended, but absolutely nothing being done to help the situation. So, the letter goes nowhere, and parents don't really have options to help, even if they wanted to.

t0rn
11-18-2010, 01:37 AM
As far as I know, aren't physicals required every year for kids to go to school? Well, I had one every year, anyway. I was an overweight kid, and that never changed. Doctors ran tests on me, had my mom document all my food intake and physical activity. I ate the least out of the neighborhood kids and was the most active. Doctors told my mom that i just had "fatty genes". Having a letter sent to my parents would not have made a difference.

Shouldn't kids be getting their physicals every year? Wouldn't a doctor inform their parent that their child is overweight? If you're going to say that having an obese child is child abuse, well.. not taking them for checkups should be considered child abuse, too.

It's for the doctor to talk to a parent about their child's weight, not a school.

Another thing, schools really need to start thinking about how they're doing things. My sisters' old elementary school sells pies and cake EVERY year. They sell BOXES full of candy for fund raisers! Their middle school sells all kinds of junk during lunch, and they have a school store where they sell junk, too. Not to mention that they have tons of pizza, soda and JUNK at school dances. They were selling CANDY BARS outside of their gym while their play was going last year. Not to mention how many schools have all kinds of bake sales throughout the year. It's really ridiculous.

nelie
11-18-2010, 08:05 AM
Shouldn't kids be getting their physicals every year? Wouldn't a doctor inform their parent that their child is overweight? If you're going to say that having an obese child is child abuse, well.. not taking them for checkups should be considered child abuse, too.


Not everyone is fortunate enough to have medical care. I was lucky enough to have medical care growing up although my mom worked 2 full time jobs so she had to juggle her schedule to take me to the doctor. She was also lucky enough that one of her jobs offered sick time/time off. Some people don't have that luxury so if they take their kids to the doctor, they would have to pay out of pocket and miss money from work. That is a lot for a struggling family.

Eliana
11-18-2010, 08:26 AM
Well, I'm 28 and consider myself still very much a child in certain circumstances :lol:

My memory isn't foggy. My parents were total health nuts. No soda, no garbage, family dinners, bike riding, hiking, basketball team, tennis lessons... I should NOT have had a weight problem as a child. But I did. I had a problem with food. I snuck it. I was predispositioned to it. It's just the way it was.

Really, I promise, my parents were proactive in providing me with a healthy lifestyle. Compared to some of the garbage my friends ate all the time? I practically lived in a farmer's market. So yeah, assuming that my parents were clueless is a little out there to me.

I'll tell you one thing, though. I fully believe that it begins and ends at home because for as overweight as I was, I learned healthy habits early on. I love my vegetables. I enjoy being active, and did at my highest weight. My parents instilled a foundation so that when I was ready, I pretty much knew what to do. If the schools want to tackle building those foundations I'm all for it, but first they have to stop contributing to the problem before they start signing those letters.
Oh wow, thank you for this!! It's so nice hearing someone who does NOT blame their parents! I feel like you just described my family. Maybe it's ok for me to relax, keep teaching my son by words and action, and when he's ready...he'll have the tools.

caryesings
11-18-2010, 08:34 AM
This makes me think of the "self-fulfilling prophecy". How many kids are getting this label and then believe that they are destined to be fat, etc.?

There is a big difference between a child and adult. I had several male cousins growing up who were short little chunkers in middle school and by high school over 6 feet tall and thin. Kids have growth spurts, etc.

I think this note makes the point of why the schools SHOULD be sending these letters. I think some parents are counting on the "growth spurt" taking care of the problem, not realizing that there child's obesity is a health issue, not a bit of "baby fat" to be outgrown.

caryesings
11-18-2010, 08:38 AM
Not everyone is fortunate enough to have medical care. I was lucky enough to have medical care growing up although my mom worked 2 full time jobs so she had to juggle her schedule to take me to the doctor. She was also lucky enough that one of her jobs offered sick time/time off. Some people don't have that luxury so if they take their kids to the doctor, they would have to pay out of pocket and miss money from work. That is a lot for a struggling family.

We had health insurance growing up but my folks were of the category that only go to the doctor is something is seriously wrong. I know I never went in to doctor for general physical during my school years.

nelie
11-18-2010, 09:00 AM
We had health insurance growing up but my folks were of the category that only go to the doctor is something is seriously wrong. I know I never went in to doctor for general physical during my school years.

I went and every year I'd be shown that chart, where they show you where you are compared to the normal child your age. I was always obese, going to doctors and nutritionists never changed that. I think my mom did the absolute best she could. If someone had accused her of child abuse, I think that would've been completely wrong.

pipernoswiper
11-18-2010, 09:20 AM
may be a repeat question, but did those letters have any information regarding diet and exercise as well? anything regarding the mental health aspect of over eating, because like with many addicts there is usually a dual diagnosis with eating disorders, ie. bipolar, borderline personality disorder, ocd, depression etc, etc, etc .....dangerous territory if you ask me. you cannot send a letter like that home to the parents, and automatically "expect" them to do the right thing. you cannot expect the parents to know what proper nutrition even is...not in this society anyways. you cannot "expect" the parent to automatically understand that a true eating disorder is almost always accompanied by an additional underlying mental problem.

and just because a parent is now "aware" of their child,s "condition" doesnt mean they will even come close to an appropriate course of action. my mother had me on a diet for as long as can remember....doctor said i was fat. all that did was screw me up. she had no clue how to feed me a healthy meal. so she put me on every diet from cabbage soup to green tea. oh not mention i was hypnotized as well. so glad all those worked out for me.

i am just saying, if the school is going to issue these letters, they should be accompanied by an appropriate course of action. AND like i said, in our district, the schools should practice what they preach! get the crap and junk food out of the cafeterias, remove pop machines and vending machines!

what's for lunch today, oh yummy my favorite, TACO IN A BAG! now that is healthy!

nelie
11-18-2010, 09:45 AM
piper - my mom works for an elementary school so she knows about all the crap that the kids eat and the fact that even though they put out fresh veggies for the kids to eat, they either don't eat them or eat them drowned in salad dressing.

Last year, my husband and I participated at an event that was held at a high school when the school was closed. We were in the cafeteria and there were tons of signs on the wall about healthy eating, etc. If you looked up at the menu, it was pizza, french fries, hamburgers, etc. Lots of fatty, high calorie foods basically. Nothing remotely close to healthy.

glynne
11-18-2010, 10:04 AM
An interesting topic. I read it with mixed emotions. Not sure what the answer is ~ I feel like it is not a "one size fits all" kind of answer though. There are so many things affecting each person's situation.

annie175
11-18-2010, 10:14 AM
It is also about the good/bad eating habits we teach our children prior to entering school. Some parents seem to "overlook" the imperfections (fat) or their own "perfect" children or the parents too are (fat) and don't care enough to not let that happen to their children. I think it is a splendid idea to inform the parent's and nip the eating habits, (fat) in the bud.

bargoo
11-18-2010, 10:18 AM
A touchy subject for sure. I notice many times when I see obese children I see obese parents.

gvntofly
11-18-2010, 11:35 AM
I can't understand why parents feed their children junk until they are classified as obese and then are surprised when the school lets them know the child is headed toward life long health problems and probably a shorter life span than the parents. That's right. This is the first generation that will have a shorter lifespan than we do. We've feed them to death.

I think the school should inform the parents and if they don't take steps to correct the situation, they should be considered child abusers.

I wouldn't go as far as child abuse but I do see it as neglect of a dependent and this is why:

I have a neighbor who has a very overweight 6 1/2 year old boy. Her two oldest girls are also overweight but the boy is the worst of the three.

This poor child's stomach hangs over his pants and has lots of cellulite, at 6 1/2.

They eat nothing but frozen processed foods in their house, mostly frozen pizzas. They installed another oven in their garage for when they make frozen pizzas because they make 6 at a time! For a family of 5!

The mom flat out told me if it can't be unwrapped and put right into the oven or microwave she won't cook it! She is a stay at home mom! So this is just laziness!

Eating healthy is not more expensive than eating junk. Most fruits and veggies are 2.99lb or less and most cuts of meat are 2.99lb or more! I feed my family of 4 very healthy on about $80 a week. I can make some pretty awesome dinners for the amount of money that my neighbor spends on frozen pizzas each night.

Pint Sized Terror
11-18-2010, 12:56 PM
Last year, my husband and I participated at an event that was held at a high school when the school was closed. We were in the cafeteria and there were tons of signs on the wall about healthy eating, etc. If you looked up at the menu, it was pizza, french fries, hamburgers, etc. Lots of fatty, high calorie foods basically. Nothing remotely close to healthy.

THIS!!!! My son's menu is sent home every month, and they have information about staying active, the food pyramid, even healthy RECIPES, yet the menu was all fried, breaded food, pizza, chicken "chunks", fried fish fillet... you get the idea.
I would assume, though probably wrongly, that if a school was proactive enough to send home flyers about obese children they would have a healthy menu. Otherwise, I'd be breathing fire too.

Edit:

The mom flat out told me if it can't be unwrapped and put right into the oven or microwave she won't cook it! She is a stay at home mom! So this is just laziness!

That is just AWFUL. I felt bad because I let my kids have a Kashi frozen pizza for dinner the other day when we were super rushed. Holy cow, I couldn't imagine them eating microwaved or frozen meals every single day. (which is how I grew up...) That is totally neglectful. :(

nelie
11-18-2010, 01:35 PM
I wouldn't go as far as child abuse but I do see it as neglect of a dependent and this is why:

I have a neighbor who has a very overweight 6 1/2 year old boy. Her two oldest girls are also overweight but the boy is the worst of the three.

This poor child's stomach hangs over his pants and has lots of cellulite, at 6 1/2.

They eat nothing but frozen processed foods in their house, mostly frozen pizzas. They installed another oven in their garage for when they make frozen pizzas because they make 6 at a time! For a family of 5!

The mom flat out told me if it can't be unwrapped and put right into the oven or microwave she won't cook it! She is a stay at home mom! So this is just laziness!

Eating healthy is not more expensive than eating junk. Most fruits and veggies are 2.99lb or less and most cuts of meat are 2.99lb or more! I feed my family of 4 very healthy on about $80 a week. I can make some pretty awesome dinners for the amount of money that my neighbor spends on frozen pizzas each night.

How would you feel if the kids ate the same things but were skinny? How about obese kids that eat healthy?

Despite working two jobs for a good part of my childhood, my mom would often ensure I had healthy meals. Nothing we ate came from a box. I never had hamburger helper or any convenience type foods and we never had candy/sweets in the house.

My mom also taught me how to cook and when I was 13 or 14, I started cooking all the family meals which generally consisted of a meat, a grain and a veggie or two.

sacha
11-18-2010, 01:40 PM
As a 90lb skinny teen girl, I ate on a daily basis:

Breakfast-nothing
Lunch- 1 bottle coke, 1 bag salt + vinegar chips (1 serving portions)
Snack- Nothing
Dinner- a handful of white pasta (no sauce) with some parmesan shaker

No fruit... no veggies.. and usually no meat. Nothing but ice cream, coke, and hamburger in the fridge.

And I was slim. In fact, I bet most (if not all) "fat chicks" would have loved to look like that, healthy or not. If they REALLY had the choice.

Were my parents abusive? No... but I was just as unhealthy as the "fat chicks" (only I was weaker!).

So the opposite of nelie- yet we are both here on 3FC in the end.

rockinrobin
11-18-2010, 01:43 PM
Originally Posted by QuilterInVA View Post
I can't understand why parents feed their children junk until they are classified as obese and then are surprised when the school lets them know the child is headed toward life long health problems and probably a shorter life span than the parents. That's right. This is the first generation that will have a shorter lifespan than we do. We've feed them to death.

I think the school should inform the parents and if they don't take steps to correct the situation, they should be considered child abusers.

Well some parents would literally have to force feed their children healthy foods and keep them locked up 24/7 to keep them away from junk food or too much food. And THAT would be child abuse.

Are some parents greatly responsible for their children's obesity? Yes.

Are all parents? Absolutely not.

It is a shame though, that our society and of course this is a great generalization, doesn't take obesity more seriously. It should be approached as a preventive, NOT an after the fact. Everybody needs to get on board though. The schools, the parents, and yes the government. There should be warning signs on restaurants and menus and processed foods, just like cigarettes - proceed with caution.. this can be detrimental to your health.

Commercials and magazines glorifying huge portions and unhealthy foods should be banned.

goodforme
11-18-2010, 01:44 PM
How would you feel if the kids ate the same things but were skinny? How about obese kids that eat healthy?

This, 1000 times this.

I think everyone here knows my oldest daughter is obese, so I'm not really objective on this topic.

My dd's "skinny" friends have a horrible diet, processed microwave food, unpronouncable ingredients, huge quantities. I bet nobody is sending home letters to those parents.

There is more involved in being healthy than BMI.

midwife
11-18-2010, 01:58 PM
Healthy food for kids is so important, whether at home or at school.

For some kids, the only food they get is at school.

Other kids have parents who would never let their kids buy school food and pack healthy lunches every day.

Both sets of parents are probably doing the very best they can with the resources they have.

Are schools doing the best they can within their own budgetary restrictions? Some probably are. I know my school district is talking about shutting down classrooms next year to save money. How does nutrition rank compared to open classrooms?

Until our kids are a priority in society, until the schools are well-funded to provide warm classrooms (there are classrooms in my state that are NOT heated right now), low student-teacher ratios, working equipment, salaries for art and music and PE teachers, and whole, healthy foods in the cafeterias, our kids are going to continue to have barriers to health and learning.

What kinds of decisions are your elected government leaders making?

My son goes to an elementary school in a poor area in town. (My MIL teaches there and it is a wonderful school). There are kids without jackets, kids without breakfast, kids without school supplies. Many kids in our country live in poverty.

There are several comments on here that schools who send notes should also offer solutions. There is at least one comment that the government should stay out of it and let it be a family issue.

From a public health perspective, should a school (nurse hopefully, but since they are underfunded, the BMI might be computed by a health aid) identify a problem it is unable to address? Is obesity on the same level as a vision problem or a dental problem or a speech problem?

"Obese" is a clinical term, not a judgement or an insult or a hint that a girl is not beautiful.

Anyway, lots of ramblings from me and not many solutions.

THere is a neat program at my kid's school where a nutrition educator comes into the classroom once a month. She initiates some exercise with the kids and teaches them about food. Sometimes they have "tastings" where they try different varieties of, say, cheese or tomatoes. Sometimes they cook whole meals that reflect cultures from around the world. The made a tomato sauce once, that they had with whole grain pasta and a salad. They've made black bean tamales. They send home workbooks/recipes books so the kids can share them with their families. Kids who know HOW to cook will already be ahead of the game. How many posters here on 3FC start to learn to cook so they can address their weight issues?

I read an article this morning that states that 15% of families in my state rely on food banks.

Is it fair to identify a problem without being able to offer a solution? Is the solution the responsibility of the family? The school? The public who votes for people who decide how much money goes to schools? Do we address obesity as a public health problem or is it an individual's own personal business and the individual or parent should be the one to address it?

Maybe a parent will get that letter and think, Ok, let's walk every night after dinner.
Maybe the neighborhood is safe. Maybe the kids have jackets. Maybe not.

When San Francisco tried to ban toys in fast food meals, I read a thread (not on 3FC) that mocked the idea of "food justice." I think the ideas of "food justice" and "health justice" and "learning justice" are very real and very intertwined.

So I'd say it's important to support ideas that work (like the nutrition educator at my kid's school), advocate for funding for schools, and try to address the issues of poverty and justice that are rampant in our societies.

Haha. Piece of cake!

JackieHollow
11-18-2010, 02:11 PM
I didn't read all the replies yet (about half) and I homeschool, so this is a non issue for me. But.. my opinion... I think the schools are messing up by sending home 'fatso letters' (as I've heard them dubbed). We know that most kiddos growing up with weight problems also suffer from real self esteem issues. I do NOT think these letters are helping them any. In fact by singling them out to get a 'fatso letter' can make things MUCH MUCH worse. Not all schools are handling this respectfully either. My neice brought one home from school (as opposed to it being mailed), and it was handed to her IN CLASS. Everyone knew what they were.

I agree with some of the PP I did read (and I'm going back to read them all). If schools TRULY care about the health issues prevalent in our children today, then they will change THEIR part in it. Healthy menus, no snack and soda machines, etc.

kittycarlson
11-18-2010, 02:26 PM
You know the goverrnment could get involved on another level and ban advertisements of unhealthy processed foods that are loaded with fats and sugar from children's or family time television shows. Someone should do something about "super size" menu items where one meal is more than a whole days fat and calories.
Unfortunately school systems, state and federal programs have spent a ton of money to educate kids in "just say no clubs" to discourage drugs and alcohol use. While they have been around long enough now that the results are in for the past twenty years or so they show they don't work. As many young people have alcohol and drug problems now as they did in 1990.
I'm terribly worried about the explosion in weight problems in children and adults. I wish someone could figure out a solution. There are so many causes.
Has anyone thought that perhaps a letter from the school saying a child is obese may result in negative behavior from defensive angry parents towards the child. Parents don't need logical reasons to be abusive. My normal weight mother of 1 fat kid (me) and 4 skinny kids used to torment me about my weight because I think it embarrassed her. I look at pictures of me now and I may have been heavier than my sibs but I was nowhere near obese. Yet I felt like a fat kid and always identified with being fat. I look at those pictures from grade school and I think why did I feel so fat? Maybe because I was treated like I was fat.

gvntofly
11-18-2010, 02:48 PM
How would you feel if the kids ate the same things but were skinny? How about obese kids that eat healthy?

I would still feel the same way. I do not feed processed foods to my children for that reason. I also do not own a microwave, gave it up 5 years ago.

The little boy is constantly eating twinkies and drinking pop.These are also the same neighbors that thought it was odd that my daughter didn't know what a twinkie was. Then proceeded to tell me I am too strict when I asked them, kindly, to not give anything like that to my kids again.

I am happy that my own daughters eat healthy. If given a choice my 5 year old will choose a bottle of water over a can of pop. One because I talk about nutrition with her and two because I don't buy junk to begin with.

I understand some children have other underlying factors besides nutrition causing weight gain but the majority is caused from what they eat. The parents are buying the groceries so they are at fault.

nelie
11-18-2010, 02:57 PM
I would still feel the same way. I do not feed processed foods to my children for that reason. I also do not own a microwave, gave it up 5 years ago.

The little boy is constantly eating twinkies and drinking pop.These are also the same neighbors that thought it was odd that my daughter didn't know what a twinkie was. Then proceeded to tell me I am too strict when I asked them, kindly, to not give anything like that to my kids again.

I am happy that my own daughters eat healthy. If given a choice my 5 year old will choose a bottle of water over a can of pop. One because I talk about nutrition with her and two because I don't buy junk to begin with.

I understand some children have other underlying factors besides nutrition causing weight gain but the majority is caused from what they eat. The parents are buying the groceries so they are at fault.

But that is my point. If the kids are skinny, you (not you, the population as a whole) assume that they aren't eating junk or too much of it. If they are obese, the assumption is they are eating junk. Again I have my experience is mine but I too never had soda. Only time I had soda was sometimes when we ate out (very rare) or when I went to college, I drank soda and even then it was rare I drank a non-diet soda. I weighed 300 lbs when I went to college. So even eating a healthy diet with minimal junk didn't save me from obesity.