Weight Loss News and Current Events - 'Fat Letters' Harmful or helpful?




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Teeni
09-07-2013, 08:56 AM
I recently got this poll from sodahead in my email: http://www.sodahead.com/living/are-fat-letters-from-school-an-appropriate-health-check/question-3910459/

The poll regards the fact that some schools may start mailing 'fat letters' informing parents that their child is obese. I found it interesting and surprising that so many thought it harmful, but who knows perhaps it is. Personally I think it wouldn't hurt to at least inform some parents of the issue. It took many many years for my mother to admit I had a weight problem and by then it was too late and I was stuck in my bad habits. Perhaps if they added nutritional information or short free sessions to inform the parents of said children on proper diet and exercise it would be more beneficial. I am sure there are some out there who don't know how to properly feed a child, my mother sure didn't. She lived with the belief that if a child demands food give it to them and don't worry about the sweets they'll run it off. I was curious what others here thought because we all have faced the obesity demon here and may have a different perspective to bring. What do you think?


Emma4545
09-07-2013, 09:09 AM
I think it might be helpful. I feel my eating problems all started from irrational thinking and no one telling me things that others seemed to know. My mom was pretty decent on limiting me but I would see people consume mass quantities of food and I didn't know that after school they did 4 hours of exercise. Or that maybe they didn't have dinner. I always felt...well if they are having it ...shouldn't I be able to? And no one said a peep when I got larger. I always felt that I would know if I was getting bigger because clothing wouldn't fit but surprisingly.. clothing can fit even when you gain 20 lbs.

It might have hurt at the time but had someone said something when I was 150, I might have never ballooned up to 220.

But I agree, they should have something in place... like an exercise class or a diet plan to suggest.

MauiKai
09-07-2013, 11:46 AM
I read this the other day too. I can see both sides but on the whole I think it's a good thing. There are so many parents out there that are in such denial about their own weight that they can't see what they are doing to their children.


Emula
09-07-2013, 12:35 PM
Personally; if the school noticed my child had a health issue and didn't bring it to my attention, I would not be pleased. While I recognise that their primary job is education, it is also to ensure the health, safety, and best interests of the children in their care are looked out for. A "fat letter" may be the only way they feel appropriately addresses the issue.

The article says they're afraid the letters will lower children's self-esteem; I call shenanigans on that, it'll only lower their self-esteem if you let it, they're 2-5 year olds for goodness sake!
The only people getting their feelings hurt are the parents IMO.

kaplods
09-07-2013, 01:20 PM
I think a better response would be to do a basic health screenings on every child and send the reports to every parent.

Schools that have done that have found high blood pressure and diabetes in even thin children.

I believe obesity is primarily a symptom rather than a disease in itself (at least until it reaches morbid obesity), and problems arise when addressing symptoms and not the underlying issue.

For children, small children especially, I feel strongly that a calorie restricted diet aimed at rapid weight loss is inappropriate and potentially dangerous. If a "fat letter" does not give guidance, less educated parents might decide to put their child on a crash diet that could jeopardize their child's health.

Are the schools also sending "too thin" letters, and again giving any helpful tips for remedying the situation in a healthful manner?

I think health screenings and reports to parents are appropriate, but I don't think the "fat kids" should be singled out - and not because of the stigma attached, but because all children deserve early health interventions whenever possible.

I think "fat letters" will do more harm than good if they do not address the underlying health crisis for our children (all of them, not just the fat ones) - poor diet and too little exercise.

Many times poor diet doesn't become obesity until adolescence or adulthood, which makes change only that much more difficult.

I think most schools will not want to take on the expense of screening all children or providing education for all parents. And if the letters simply identify obesity, without addressing the nutrition and fitness issues, it might do more harm than good.

I would like to see schools reduce the stigma of obesity. I don't think ignoring the problem does that.

I'd love to see weight management addressed in health classes and offered as an extracurricular club in the schools - and presented in a fun, compassionate, low-pressure way.

I don't think "fat letters" will be of any help at all without a level of support that most schools will be prepared to provide.

Personally, I think the supportive services, offered to all parents and all children would have a much greater and lasting impact.

Emma4545
09-07-2013, 03:20 PM
I think a better response would be to do a basic health screenings on every child and send the reports to every parent.
Schools that have done that have found high blood pressure and diabetes in even thin children.

Well, I am the weird mutant that was quite fat 50+ lbs, but still had normal blood sugar, and normal BP. And actually had that for my entire life. So I wouldn't have shown up on those tests. I wish someone had pulled me aside but I understand the potential for it to be handled badly. My doctor only saw me about every two years so that wouldn't have helped.

kaplods
09-07-2013, 04:49 PM
Well, I am the weird mutant that was quite fat 50+ lbs, but still had normal blood sugar, and normal BP. And actually had that for my entire life. So I wouldn't have shown up on those tests. I wish someone had pulled me aside but I understand the potential for it to be handled badly. My doctor only saw me about every two years so that wouldn't have helped.

You misunderstand me. I'm not proposing that weight be ignored, I'm saying that obesity should not be the only symptom addressed. All children would be tested, and all results would be reported.

Parents would be sent a health report of all findings for their child. the report would include an assessment of the child's weight (whether the child was underweight, in a healthy bmi range, overweight, obese, or morbidly obese), but it would also report blood sugar, blood pressure, dental health, vision, hearing nd perhaps other tests and assessments as well.

This way, not only obese children would be helped, but other at-risk children as well.

Body weight is only one piece of the puzzle. It should be addressed, but not to the neglect of the other pieces.

Just as there will be children who are obese with no other health effects, there will also be children who have health issues who will have no overt symptoms. Doing a comprehensive health screening which screens for weight AND other health issues has the potential to help more children and families.

A "health letter" would mean that every parent gets a health report on their child and that more than body weight is considered.

Again, I'm not advocating weight not be tested and reported. I'm saying that measuring weight and only weight isn't sufficient. There will be fat, but otherwise healthy children who will be helped (one would hope) but sick, thin children who would not be identified.

I'm saying that we should identify and address more than just body weight, which is one, but not the only indicator of health problems.

mariposssa
09-07-2013, 05:22 PM
If the school sent home a fat letter to me I think I'd write them one right back about the crappy processed meals they serve up. I think this goes too far with reaching out of their boundaries. Let the pediatricians and family doctors handle obesity and nutrition counseling.

kaplods
09-07-2013, 05:44 PM
I do think it would be hypocritical for schools to attempt to assess and address nutritional and health problems without addressing the amount of empty calorie garbage being served and sold in the schools and the budget cuts for p.e., recess, health educations and sports programs.

If the schools can't provide these things because "they're too expensive," how do they expect parents to do it? And what good does the information do, if the parents and schools do not have the resources to do anything sensible about it.

Making kids thin on a nutrient poor diet (even if it's possible) isn't going to help the situation. It will only create hungry, fatigued, foggy-headed, sick, but thinner children.

Do we want healthier kids or just thinner (more socially acceptable and attractive) kids.

Sadly our culture proves again and again that we don't care about health, for adults or children) - at least not as much as we care about appearance.