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Look Inside, Girls

Yet another reason to worry about obese girls. A new study by University of Texas at Austin sociologist Robert Crosnoe says that fat kids have more academic problems at school and are less likely to attend college. The issue is particularly pronounced in girls, Crosnoe says, particularly those who attend schools at which the bulk of the students are not overweight.

In Time's article, Crosnoe attributed the gender differential in obese youth to the fact that girls identify themselves more by appearance and their bodies than boys. What a surprise! With all the thin media types in their magazines and Barbies and Bratz for dolls, girls look at what's wrong with themselves instead of what's right.

But will buying Only Hearts Club dolls and avoiding all media and the makeup counter solve the problem? Unlikely. On a Smith College-sponsored site called By Girls For Girls, 17-year-old April Lightfoot writes:

"The first step to gaining high self-esteem is self-acceptance. Accept the flaws you cannot naturally change. Now, I'm not saying don't wear a weave because it's not natural! Instead, be comfortable with your height, your personality, your beliefs and values, your body shape and how you look."

What do you do to teach your children that their worth is not about how they look?

By Stacey Garfinkle |  July 26, 2007; 7:30 AM ET  | Category:  Teens , Tweens
Previous: Potty Talk | Next: The Subjects That Are Left Behind

Comments


Love them for who they are and when somebody says something "bad" to them, make sure you hide the bodies well.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 26, 2007 8:08 AM | Report abuse

As a mother, I try not to spend time around my children yapping about MY physical shortcomings. I tell my daughter and son that I exercise to be healthy and strong. I talk to my daughter about how smart, funny and kind she is and minimize the comments on how pretty she is (even though she is really, really pretty). I think a lot of it is example.

Posted by: Moxiemom | July 26, 2007 8:31 AM | Report abuse

My daughters, 11 and 9, spend most of their time living with their mother out of state. I call them nearly every day, I email them a couple of times a week, and I ask them questions about their school friends, and projects. I tell them often how proud I am of them for everything they do right, and I make sure any punishment that needs to be given out really does fit the crime. I also tell them each night they are with me how great it is to be their dad and what a blessing they are in my life. I can't imagine doing anything else.

Posted by: kcsphil | July 26, 2007 8:32 AM | Report abuse

I recognize that we're in some kind of a health crisis, here, with obesity, but I wish someone would at least clear up the statistics. From all I've read, anywhere from 30%-65% of kids are obese. If that is true, why would an obese girl be less likely to go to school? I mean, it's becoming the new norm, right? So what difference would it make? And as for "those who attend schools at which the bulk of the students are not overweight", where are these schools? Almost everyone is overweight, that's what I'm getting from the media.

What do you do to teach your children that their worth is not about how they look? My kids are so young that our conversations about such things haven't happened. When I was growing up, my parents used to say things like "you don't need to wear all that makeup, you're so pretty without it" and they rarely got involved in any kind of discussion of clothes or what looked good on us. We figured it out on our own. Hopefully, my kids will, too.

Posted by: WorkingMomX | July 26, 2007 8:33 AM | Report abuse

Aren't obesity and family income linked? If so, doesn't that (income) explain their academic success more than obesity?

Would like to know if the study's methodology corrected for income.

Posted by: spurious | July 26, 2007 8:40 AM | Report abuse

I think Moxiemom hit it on the head. Moms who whine about being fat or how they need to be on diets around their daughters create anxious, self conscience children. My mother just about never commented on my appearance, except for very rarely. Sometimes it would be "honey, you're young, you look great in everything". she gave me solid compliments that had nothing to do with how i looked. i was good looking and had no idea, and i think that was wise of her. i felt that my "self" was made up of so many things before i would like "okay looking". it didn't even occur to me until college that some girls really struggle with this...

Posted by: PWM1111 | July 26, 2007 9:01 AM | Report abuse

I am in my 30's and I wish now that I had had more encouragement to exercise and eat appropriately when I was a young girl.

It has nothing to do with body image, avoiding obesity is about health.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 26, 2007 9:13 AM | Report abuse

As sad as it may be, throughout everyone's life they will be affected by how they look. While it may be true that a child can't control their weight, I think it is still important that parents help them look their best. A heavy child that is well-groomed will be treated better than a heavy child this is dressed sloppily, has messy hair, doesn't take care of their skin or otherwise shows they don't care about their appearance. If they try to look their best, they will feel better about themselves, which also will help.

In my case, while I'm fairly thin, my looks aren't that great. But I've found that having a great hairstyle, taking care of my skin, dressing neatly and with some style all have helped me be VERY successful in business. I feel more confident and find that people look at me differently than they did when I was "ugly".

In a perfect world, no one would care what anyone looked like. Unfortunately, this isn't a perfect world. So, while parents shouldn't "pressure" a child to lose weight, they should stress the importance of looking good.

Posted by: jj | July 26, 2007 9:21 AM | Report abuse

This isn't an image problem, it's a health problem. When 13-year-olds are getting Type II Diabetes, that says a lot. I do think it has to do with income. I went to a private school, and there were 5-10 overweight students in the entire high school. We had mandatory sports we had to play throughout most of the year. We grew up eating mostly health food with the occasional chili-cheese dog, as it should be. I don't think ignoring the problem will help. Encouraging children to exercise and eat healthy, without criticizing, will do wonders. It also wouldn't hurt to turn off the TV and video games a few times a week.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 26, 2007 9:32 AM | Report abuse

jj said - "While it may be true that a child can't control their weight"

Oh that's pure BS. When "calories in" are greater than "calories expended", weight goes up. Either lower the "in" (eat less, eat healthier) or increase the "out" (exercise more) and a child can control their weight.

Fewer sodas, video games, tv, crap food.
More walking, running, swimming, biking, etc.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 26, 2007 9:44 AM | Report abuse

Obesity is a major health problem, not just an appearance problem. Diabetes and heart attacks result from obesity, and I for one don't want to be insulin dependent for life. Clothing manufacturers aren't helping the problem when they keep making bigger and bigger clothes to fit the bigger and bigger people. Magazines that flaunt obesity like BBW and Mode aren't helping either. They're just making it OK to be fat. Fat is not beautiful. Neither is anorexia or bulimia. There is a happy medium.

Anorexia is a rich girl's disease, and obesity is more prevalent in the lower income levels. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure that out.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 26, 2007 9:47 AM | Report abuse

"Magazines that flaunt obesity like BBW and Mode aren't helping either. They're just making it OK to be fat. Fat is not beautiful."

I agree with you partially, but it is important to note that skinny does not necessarily equal healthy. I know women who are super skinny, 20 pounds lighter than me who can't run a mile. So I think there is a balance between visually "perfect" and healthy. This is not to say that you can't be super skinny and healthy, I'm just saying that it is not the only indicator of health and wellness. I hope that my children strive for health as opposed to thinness.

Posted by: Moxiemom | July 26, 2007 9:56 AM | Report abuse

fr |July 26 09:44 am:

>..Oh that's pure BS. When "calories in" are greater than "calories expended", weight goes up. Either lower the "in" (eat less, eat healthier) or increase the "out" (exercise more) and a child can control their weight.

Fewer sodas, video games, tv, crap food.
More walking, running, swimming, biking, etc.

What if the family lives in an area that is not safe for the kids to play outside? Also, it's been shown on COUNTLESS studies that those who live on a small salary can't always afford fresh fruits and vegetables, unless they can get them from a food closet.

Posted by: Alex | July 26, 2007 10:01 AM | Report abuse

I can't run a mile, either, but my blood pressure is low, heart rate is low, lung function excellent, and all my blood tests (cholesterol, triglicerides, iron, everything else) are well within the normal range. My doctor says I'm healthy as the day is long. Being able to run a mile isn't necessarily a test of health. Jim Fixx dropped dead while running, remember?

Posted by: Anonymous | July 26, 2007 10:02 AM | Report abuse

Clothing manufacturers aren't helping the problem when they keep making bigger and bigger clothes to fit the bigger and bigger people.

------------

So bigger people should go naked?

Posted by: Raia | July 26, 2007 10:12 AM | Report abuse

What a pleasure, for once, to read thoughtful, relevant comments without crashing into trolls and anonymous instigators.

Posted by: Kimster | July 26, 2007 10:12 AM | Report abuse

"What if the family lives in an area that is not safe for the kids to play outside? Also, it's been shown on COUNTLESS studies that those who live on a small salary can't always afford fresh fruits and vegetables, unless they can get them from a food closet. "

So, if you can't play outside and can't afford fresh fruits and vegetables, the children MUST sit on their asses watch tv drinking sodas and eating complete crap food?

Yes, not everybody can afford the "perfect" lifestyle but there are plenty of things disadvantaged (I'll say it, poor) can do that promote a healthier lifestyle.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 26, 2007 10:13 AM | Report abuse

I'm not a parent. But I am a fat child who grew up into a fat adult. My parents (both fat) made it clear to me that my worth was what was inside of me. I was expected to do well in school. And I read a lot-something that is not excersize, but does wonders for kids (and their test scores). What has become of me? I'm an attorney-I graduated from top tier undergrad and law schools. I clerk for a state supreme court.

But, as the original entry mentions this is a problem. Of self-esteem and body image, not about calories and excersize.

Posted by: BB | July 26, 2007 10:13 AM | Report abuse

I think a lot of the obesity problem also depends on where you live. I moved from Utah (very few overweight kids there) to DC more overweight kids but not that bad, to the Midwest where it seems they are everywhere. Nothing prepared me for all the overweight people here. School lunches at my daughter's daycare include steak fingers, chicken nuggets, etc. They eat doughnuts in the morning and have candy almost everyday. I have decided to get a nanny so I can control what she eats. Some parents don't see a problem with this style of eating at all, but for me, it is unthinkable.

For our family, we try to eat healthy and exercise. I think there will come a time in this country where the girl or boy who is fit and in shape will be the ones who are ridiculed.

Posted by: Irish girl | July 26, 2007 10:19 AM | Report abuse

WorkingMomX: Here's the latest statistics on overweight children:

http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/products/pubs/pubd/hestats/overweight/overwght_child_03.htm

From that file:

"Results from the 2003-2004 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), using measured heights and weights, indicate that an estimated 17 percent of children and adolescents ages 2-19 years are overweight. ... Overweight increased from 7.2 to 13.9% among 2-5 year olds and from 11 to 19% among 6-11 year olds between 1988-94 and 2003-2004. Among adolescents aged 12-19, overweight increased from 11 to 17% during the same period.

Posted by: Stacey Garfinkle | July 26, 2007 10:21 AM | Report abuse

"I can't run a mile, either, but my blood pressure is low, heart rate is low, lung function excellent, and all my blood tests (cholesterol, triglicerides, iron, everything else) are well within the normal range. "

I was simply using that as an example of someone who may not be fit. Not as the ultimate measure although even though all of your metrics are good, I'd be concerned if you cannot run a mile. I'm not talking a 7 minute mile, but a healthy adult with no other issues (vasular or knee problems) really 'ought to be able to run a mile.

Posted by: Moxiemom | July 26, 2007 10:25 AM | Report abuse

Starting with parents feeding their kids a healthy diet helps. A co-worker brought her two kids to work one day right after school let out and she fed them pizza, french fries and chocolate cake for lunch. The daughter already has an obesity problem (at age 8 she looks like a tomato worm) and the boy has ADHD. The co=worker talks about what she makes for dinner -- very heavy on starches and fat, and of course sweets galore. Go figure.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 26, 2007 10:32 AM | Report abuse

By WorkingMomX at July 26, 2007 08:33 AM

"From all I've read, anywhere from 30%-65% of kids are obese. If that is true, why would an obese girl be less likely to go to school? I mean, it's becoming the new norm, right? So what difference would it make?"

This is very good question. I think I have an answer (though I cannot claim it is the correct answer).

Obesity has a high corelation to income level because foods that tend to be bad for you and contain a lot of trans-fats, high-fructose corn syrup, and other "empty calories" also tend to be inexpensive. Fresh fruits and veggies, seafood, and other healthy foods also tend to be expensive. And since income is fairly consistently concentrated by living location, lower income school districts will have a higher concentration of clinically obese children.

In other words, of the 35-65% of children who are clinically obese, the concentration probably increases as average income decreases. This is why the statement in the article "But obese girls who went to high school with a sizable overweight population -- where heavy girls represented about 20% of the student body -- had normal odds of attending college." is so key. In a very wealthy area, there may be a lower percentage of students who are clinically obese, but they are most effected.

This can probably be linked to the other story in the Post today about the spread of obesity socially:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/07/25/AR2007072501353.html?hpid=moreheadlines

Posted by: David S | July 26, 2007 10:38 AM | Report abuse

I am amazed how many kids are fat these days. We were always stick thin boys. we played outside all the time and played sports.Now I see chunky kids alot. I plan on making sure that exercise is part of our lives.

Posted by: pATRICK | July 26, 2007 10:44 AM | Report abuse

Excellent point spurious and David S.

Posted by: StudentMom | July 26, 2007 10:51 AM | Report abuse

It does bother me that people think the major problem with obesity is self-esteem. The associated health problems are very real, no matter how good you feel about yourself.

And as to obese kids not doing as well in school, I also wonder about the methodology of the study, since it's been well demonstrated that obesity is strongly linked to class as well as race, which throw a bunch of other factors into the equation.

Posted by: reston, va | July 26, 2007 10:55 AM | Report abuse

I got fat when I was 15. That was when I got skin cancer from being outside all the time. I got into computers instead (I had always been into books). So...a Bachelor's and half a Masters later...my metrics are excellent, but I'm still overweight. I can't run a mile without duct-taping down my DDDs, but I can walk 17 miles in a day and participate in weekend walk-a-thons.

My husband on the other hand has an insanely high metabolism, but thinks that vegetables are part of the Man's conspiracy, so while he may be much thinner than myself, he doesn't eat very well at all. When we have kids of our own its going to be a hard-run thing to get him to eat well in front of the kids, especially because he still reacts to my offering him fresh fruits and vegetables or even tofu with a curled lip and a vicious shake of his head.

Posted by: Kat | July 26, 2007 10:57 AM | Report abuse

A lot of the people we see are fat because they CAN help it, however, there are many people who are fat and CANNOT help it. DISEASES such as PCOS cause people who can eat a 1000 cal diet, exercise like crazy etc to still remain blimplike. In some of these people the whole you're fat by choice argument falls flat, they're fat and its because of genetics. Their kids will be fat, and it will be genetic, and it will be an uphill battle for them their entire life. And they'll hear the phrase "Well, geez, just drink a diet coke, and walk a little lard-butt" because its socially acceptable to say it. The sad thing is that there are a bunch of people who are in this boat, but its just an easy stigma to pick at. Even more fun for the PCOS folks is that they spend years eating the right stuff praying that some day that they might be so lucky as to get pregnant, because it messes your whole system up, in additon to dealing with those taunts they got to live with through childhood.

Posted by: ljb | July 26, 2007 11:03 AM | Report abuse

I struggle with this with my kids, particularly my daughter. I was an average-sized child until my parents divorced when I was 10. I turned to food for comfort and it's been a vicious cycle ever since. I know how hard it is to lose weight and there is a social cost as well. Plus I worry about all the health risks associated with being overweight. I don't want my kids to have to deal with that. But, I also don't want them to think their self-worth is wrapped up in how they look. Since they can see I am not thin they have asked about it. I try to emphasize that not being overweight is essential for health. After reading these comments, I am going to also focus on not praising my kids for their appearance all that often and focus on other qualities. Thanks to those commentators for providing such good advice.

Posted by: PT Fed Mof2 | July 26, 2007 11:03 AM | Report abuse

I can't run a mile, either, but can walk it 10-12 minutes. Does that qualify?

Posted by: Anonymous | July 26, 2007 11:10 AM | Report abuse

Good for your PT Fed Mom! I bet you have great kids.

Posted by: Moxiemom | July 26, 2007 11:10 AM | Report abuse

None of this is a surprise if you think about it. My kids can't run around outside like I used to do--to many kooks out there. They have to wait until I have time to go out and watch them. I figure that with the lifestyle we have today--I spend 8+ hours in front of the computer--we should all just be eating one boiled egg, two saltines and an apple, considering the little energy we expend.

Posted by: Sittin down & gettin fat | July 26, 2007 11:21 AM | Report abuse

How about parents realizing that their children, both boys and girls, are fat and DOING something about it, instead of just pandering to their 'self-esteem'?

Posted by: Phillyfilly | July 26, 2007 11:21 AM | Report abuse

A lot of girls and women (and some boys and men) are fat because they eat to mask the pain of sexual trauma. Was this considered in the study?

Fat people know they are fat; they don't always know why they are fat.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 26, 2007 11:27 AM | Report abuse

In general, it is significantly more risky to put your kids in the car than it is to let them play outside.

I think its also important to note that when you are fit, you feel better and you feel better about yourself and your body regardless of its shortcomings, real or perceived. Being fit and healthy is as much, if not more, about having a balanced mind as it is about having a fantastic body.

Posted by: Moxiemom | July 26, 2007 11:38 AM | Report abuse

I have a question for everyone about this issue. I have a nephew who used to be overweight. His issue was that his parents went through a divorce and he ate for attention. We encouraged him to lose weight through healthy eating and exercise. I would love to tell you that the outside isn't important, but it is, especially for kid's self esteem. However, we never pushed too much because we didn't want him to feel bad about himself. He took the initiative a few years ago and lost all the weight. He feels so much better about himself. We loved him no matter what, but we are not the world.

So, how do you keep kids healthy without making them feel bad? And, is it okay to sometimes say it is not healthy to be overweight. Sometimes being PC leads kids to think that just because other people do something, it's okay for them to do it too. I mean we wouldn't send the same message about drugs and alcohol.

Posted by: Irish girl | July 26, 2007 12:05 PM | Report abuse

by reston, va at July 26, 2007 10:55 AM

"It does bother me that people think the major problem with obesity is self-esteem. The associated health problems are very real, no matter how good you feel about yourself."

Self-Esteem and health are inter-related, especially as relates to depression. It is much easier for a person with high self-concept to make the leap to a healthier lifestyle through the necessary diet changes and increase in exercise.

So the helpful part of the study is that by understanding the self-esteem component or the obesity probem we can take actions that will help increase the statistical chances of a solution.

One could infer (perhaps incorrectly, I will admit) that two steps to take to help this problem is to try to balance out the distribution of obese children (perhaps through a bussing/quota system related to income) while simultaneously treating the resulting decrease in self-esteem through increased access to therapy.

[Or, to play devil's advocate and take a more libertarian view on it, stop subidizing the growing of products that are used to make these foods such as complex sugars made from corn and vegitable oils from soybeans and let the market dictate what to grow. Logically, healthy choices will make those products cheaper because of supply and demand.]

Posted by: David S | July 26, 2007 12:15 PM | Report abuse

I had an extra 10 pounds on me until I was about 17. Enough that I wasn't "hot", but I was always pretty. From 17 until I had a child, I had an amazingly perfect body. It was wonderful. I could throw on stretch pants and a t-shirt and still feel great about myself.
Now...I'm about 30 lbs overweight ever since pregnancy. It is a nightmare. I am happier with my place in life now and my career, but I am miserable with myself. I have to buy just the right clothes to look halfway decent (no more throwing something on and leaving the house). I have to wear a bra AND something on top of that to hold all the fat in. It's so depressing.

Luckily I'm still pretty and have nice skin and hair, but I definitely started to overeat emotionally during pregnancy and truly let myself go after 10 years of depriving myself for that perfect bod. ugh.

It matters. At work, if you're good looking, people want to talk with you and be around you. Everyhere. It matters.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 26, 2007 12:15 PM | Report abuse

Self esteem isn't something you give your children. It is something that they earn themselves. Your job is to help them find the things that help build self esteem. Help them find their passion, help them learn how to make good choices about their life and lifestyle. Whenever people try to "build" self esteem it ends up being a disaster because the kids know it is praise that is not earned. If your kid is heavy, help them find eat better - teach them to cook healthy meals that they can feel good about creating. Find out what they are good at naturally and encourage that activity. Nothing feels better than a job well done, that you did on your own with a little bit of adversity thrown in the mix.

Posted by: Moxiemom | July 26, 2007 12:23 PM | Report abuse

"It matters. At work, if you're good looking, people want to talk with you and be around you. Everyhere. It matters."

It's incredibly shallow, but it is true. At work and elsewhere. If you are out of shape, people will wonder why you don't take care of yourself and make a lot of false assumptions. They don't care about your "back story". We should prepare our kids to live in the real world.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 26, 2007 12:24 PM | Report abuse

Thanks, Stacey, David S and spurious for the great info.

One of the projects I'm working on currently is a employee health initiative. We surveyed our employees and attorneys recently and found that there's a lot of interest in learning about nutrition, exercise, making healthy choices, etc. The problem is, there are many people who know what to do and how they should eat and that they should exercise, and they still DON'T. Why? Lack of time was the number one reason. I still think it comes down to internal motivation, though. Yes, there are some people who are tremendously overweight because of a chemical imbalance or glandular problem, but my understanding is that this is extremely rare. So what's the deal, really? If anything can get someone to change, though, I think it will be the fear that their kids will end up unhealthy, dying at a younger age than they would have, etc.

Posted by: WorkingMomX | July 26, 2007 12:26 PM | Report abuse

"The problem is, there are many people who know what to do and how they should eat and that they should exercise, and they still DON'T."

They are eating to mask emotional pain and ease loneliness & boredom. Being fit won't change most of their problems, so why should they give up the one constant comfort in their life - food- because someone tells them to?

Posted by: Anonymous | July 26, 2007 12:31 PM | Report abuse

This is such a challenging issue and only a few people here seem to realize how complex it is. My experience has been that folks who have never struggled with their weight are very quick to write the whole thing off as an easy "calories in/energy expended" equation.

It IS a health issue -- AND it's a body image issue. It's also a cultural issue, which few people address here. Communities differ in what they think is beautiful. Some minority communities value bigger women -- and they are more likyl to suffer from high rates of diabetes, heart disease, etc. Majority community in the US values being thin -- and they have higher rates of eating disorders. There are probably more minorities with health risks associated with obesity than there are whites with eating disorders, but still . . .

I think balance is key -- we have the luxury of having too much to eat and minimal manual labor. We need to make some sacrifices as a result. But it would help for those who've always been thin to understand that it's more complex than they can ever know. How many times have I been with friends or family who are so thin that they have to TRY to put on weight . . .yet they make fun of a larger person for eating the SAME THING they were eating (e.g., ice cream?) I have family members who are extraordinarily fattist -- they are, of course, all remarkably skinny, but they also eat more chocolate in a single sitting than anyone I've ever met (as well as lots of other high-fat and junk foods). And I've known big women who eat right and are just as active as everyone else I know, but whose metabolisms just cannot handle their eating the occasional snack that everyone else gets to have.

Personally, I struggle with weight and always have. I'm very active and very fit, but it runs in my family -- my great grandmother, grandmoter, and mother. I am in the normal weight range, but only because I work at it. It's a constant struggle for me.

I hope I can give my daughter the message that her worth is not dependent upon her looks, but also encourage her to be active and healthy. . .

Posted by: DC Mom | July 26, 2007 12:51 PM | Report abuse

I had a friend who had a teenage daughter that said no one would love her because she didn't have great body. He listened and they went to the store. He pulled out a muscle and fitness magazine. Do I look like that? he asked. She laughed and said no. He said "then you don't love me then right? Because I don't have a great body. She said "you are crazy of course I love you.. Then she stopped smiled at him and said, "Ok you got me". Probably the best parent I know.

Posted by: pATRICK | July 26, 2007 12:55 PM | Report abuse

by WorkingMomX at July 26, 2007 12:26 PM

"One of the projects I'm working on currently is a employee health initiative."

It is always good to see management taking an interest in this. I am not sure what sort of budget your organization is looking to put into this, but it can make a pretty big difference.

Your theory on education and motivation cuts both ways. Does your organization bear any responsibility to increase the health education and motivation for your employees? I am assuming (bad of me!) that you work in a primarily sedintary environment, so it may be worthwhile to consider this in the resources that you allocate to any health improvement efforts.

The ideal model in my mindset here is Google which has an in house trainer as well as health facilities for their employees to use within their complex. I am not certain what they use as a motivational tool to get their employees to use their facilities, but I am certain that ease of access, encouragement from management, and low (if any) cost to the employees probably all play a factor.

Posted by: David S | July 26, 2007 1:02 PM | Report abuse

"A lot of the people we see are fat because they CAN help it, however, there are many people who are fat and CANNOT help it. DISEASES such as PCOS cause people who can eat a 1000 cal diet, exercise like crazy etc to still remain blimplike. In some of these people the whole you're fat by choice argument falls flat, they're fat and its because of genetics."
--Yes, however that is a very, very small group of people. Probably like 3% of all the overweight people.

Posted by: Soguns1 | July 26, 2007 1:08 PM | Report abuse

My 2 daughters just finished their 1st year at great universities. I suggest simple, commom sense ideas. 1)Give your daughters (& sons) a vision of life beyond high school. Life does not end at the senior prom. 2)Turn off the TV & when you do watch TV do it together then discuss & discuss. 3)Encourage reading and more reading 4)family exercise for fun and 5)Talk to them with the respect you would give a friend but with the dictorship of a parent.

Posted by: perkie | July 26, 2007 1:09 PM | Report abuse

Dang, David, you brought up money. LOL! My Executive Director is extremely fond of saying things like "let's be creative here and not assume we should throw money at the problem". It does end in some great low-cost ideas, but in some cases, you must have some cash to toss. So far, we've brought in Weight Watchers at Work, and have paid 1/2 the amount for employees who enroll, and employees who reach their goal weight within a year of starting the program get a check cut to them for the other 1/2 which they contributed. We've also got quarterly speakers lined up who will lead discussions on topics such as increasing your servings of veggies and fruits, reading labels, healthy (and quick) cooking, etc. It's not an option to have a gym on site, which is a bit of a downer, but we've partnered with a gym nearby and they provide employee discounts. This is just the tip of the iceberg, because we're realizing this can't be a 2007 initiative -- it'll need to be permanent.

Posted by: WorkingMomX | July 26, 2007 1:10 PM | Report abuse

My daughter was born without a right hand- hers ends below the elbow.

so. what now?

Posted by: Anonymous | July 26, 2007 1:10 PM | Report abuse

WorkingMomX: Based on your comment, I thought this might interest you. I ran across it today:

Md. Workers Compete to Lose Weight
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/07/25/AR2007072501939.html

Posted by: Stacey Garfinkle | July 26, 2007 1:10 PM | Report abuse

Actually, Stacey, it makes me wish I worked for Agora. :)

We've discussed cash incentives for everything from quitting smoking to losing weight, but I haven't been able to sell it yet. I think it's coming, though. Maybe I'll try it from the "Biggest Loser" angle. I could see that becoming something people could get behind.

Posted by: WorkingMomX | July 26, 2007 1:22 PM | Report abuse

WorkingMonX

"This is just the tip of the iceberg, because we're realizing this can't be a 2007 initiative -- it'll need to be permanent."

Right. If the changes aren't permanent lifestyle changes, with lots of support, it's a big waste of time. The employees will gain back of all the weight they lost and more. They become depressed and angry with the employer for yet another public humiliation.

Thiis program must be carefully managed or it will backfire big time.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 26, 2007 1:22 PM | Report abuse

WorkingMomX at July 26, 2007 01:10 PM

"This is just the tip of the iceberg, because we're realizing this can't be a 2007 initiative -- it'll need to be permanent."

That is the thing with health care of all kinds!

The partnering with other buisness (gyms, Weight Watchers) is probably the best low cost alternative that most businesses can afford.

Something to consider in the long run (if you haven't already) might be to talk to your health insurance provider to talk about the impact of having your employees loose weight on your premiums. This can probably help you to develop a realistic long term budget picture.

I think the point you made in your previous post about motivation is going to be your key issue. Most people just don't schedule time in their day for exercise and it requires some motivation to change long established habits. I am curious as to whether your organization has considered a formula for allowing employees to take time out of their day to use the gym. You would have to take into account lost work time, (of course) but this could be counteracted with savings on insurance and increases in productivity that have been shown to come with exercise. It could be an interesting alternative to throwing money at the problem if it proves to be sustainable.

Posted by: David S | July 26, 2007 1:29 PM | Report abuse

Not to start a religious flame war but I plan to tell my daughter that Jesus loves her whether she is a size 0 or a 14. His plan for her does not hinge on whether she can fit into a skinny pair of jeans.

Posted by: pATRICK | July 26, 2007 1:56 PM | Report abuse

While I agree with most of the posts today regarding modeling healthy habits, health concerns, etc., I do think that society as a whole has gone overboard with the judgments about weight - recently, I had some relatives visiting, with some super-skinny kids and a super-skinny mom -- a few hours after they left my house my 2-YEAR OLD looked at me and said "Mommy, I'm chubby" - it was obvious to me that the mom or one of the kids said that to her, because that is not a word uttered in my house! (and neither is "skinny" with regard to people) -- I was horrified - if we start sending these messages to toddlers, we truly have a bigger problem

a side note, I am heavy now partly because of a lifetime of yo-yo dieting that began when I hit puberty and my mom started sending me with Slender bars for my lunch - figuring out how to find the middle ground here is very important

Posted by: magsmom | July 26, 2007 2:04 PM | Report abuse

pATRICK

"Not to start a religious flame war but I plan to tell my daughter that Jesus loves her whether she is a size 0 or a 14. His plan for her does not hinge on whether she can fit into a skinny pair of jeans."

Right. It's more like whether she is a size 0 or a 22W. I've seen you checking out the fat chicks!

Posted by: M. Proust | July 26, 2007 2:14 PM | Report abuse

To Anon at 1:10

I'm not exactly sure what you should tell your daughter, but I wanted to share with you that I went to high school who was also missing her right forearm. She was SUPER popular! As I recall, she ran track and maybe played soccer as well. She was friendly, and as a result, she had a lot of friends--she was definitley more "in" than I was. So I guess you should instill in your daughter that four perfect limbs does not a perfect human make.

Posted by: B | July 26, 2007 2:25 PM | Report abuse

Oddly enough, I became fat only after I was shunned by my classmates for being white, shy, and bisexual. Then it was just me, at home, with my books. Food was my escape, my enjoyment. Even when I got fat (which I was by age 11), it just made it one more divide between me and others. But I think if I'd been accepted and made friends, I wouldn't have been nearly as likely to get fat.

So I think the issues are much deeper core ones of social integration and dynamics. We need parents who are healthy and with good esteem to teach their kids the same, and we need to focus more on what kids do together and not just "let them go play."

Posted by: Liz D | July 26, 2007 2:54 PM | Report abuse

You knew at 11 you were bisexual? YIKES!

Posted by: Anonymous | July 26, 2007 2:59 PM | Report abuse

You are white? YIKES!!!

Posted by: Anonymous | July 26, 2007 3:10 PM | Report abuse

Oddly enough, I became fat only after I was shunned by my classmates for being white, shy, and bisexual.

You were shunned for being bisexual at age 11? Umm, how did people and other kids find this out to "shun" you. That is an odd story.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 26, 2007 3:11 PM | Report abuse

"Not to start a religious flame war but I plan to tell my daughter that Jesus loves her whether she is a size 0 or a 14."

With all due respect to Jesus, I think that statment might carry more weight if A. Jesus really looked like the Jesus from jesus Christ Superstar and B. He was available for prom.

Posted by: Moxiemom | July 26, 2007 3:26 PM | Report abuse

Well, if your daughter isn't slim and pretty, you'd better tell her to learn a marketable skill so she can support herself and get used to being passed over. Men are visual animals -- they want a pretty package. The first thing they look for in a date/partner/spouse is attractiveness. Always have, always will. They use their girlfriends as a status symbol-- "See, my girlfriend is prettier than your girlfriend." Sad to say, they still drool over Playboy magazines. They still ogle other women when they are out of the house. They still want a trophy wife after wifey #1 has passed her 'sell by' date.

So, if dear daughter is fat and plain, tell her to suck it up and learn to support herself. Unfortunately we can't all be Catherine Zeta Jones or Jessica Simpson. The rest will just have to get used to being alone. If there were no men in the world there would be a lot of fat, happy women.

Posted by: NW DC | July 26, 2007 3:39 PM | Report abuse

"With all due respect to Jesus, I think that statment might carry more weight if A. Jesus really looked like the Jesus from jesus Christ Superstar and B. He was available for prom."

With my daughter, Jesus should look like Colin Farrell in "The New World". There's need for a prom, they can use my basement. After all, Jesus is God's gift to women...

Posted by: Anonymous | July 26, 2007 3:48 PM | Report abuse

NWDC - head down to your local pool - there is indeed someone for everyone! Kind of repulsive, kinda of heartwarming.

Posted by: Moxiemom | July 26, 2007 3:51 PM | Report abuse

MOXIEMOM, I guess jesus can lool like what ever floats their boat. LOL

Posted by: pATRICK | July 26, 2007 3:56 PM | Report abuse

Patrick - thanks for being a good sport. I did not intend to offend. Who was the group that sang about your own personal Jesus? Maybe that's what they meant. Mine would look like Patrick Dempsey - I bet it would be hard to date jesus - he's always right.

Posted by: Moxiemom | July 26, 2007 4:01 PM | Report abuse

I bet it would be hard to date jesus - he's always right.

Posted by: Moxiemom | July 26, 2007 04:01 PM

That was a good one, that is why Jesus is not married-No husband is ever right!

Posted by: pATRICK | July 26, 2007 4:08 PM | Report abuse

Moxiemom

"I bet it would be hard to date jesus - he's always right."

In the bedroom. Is that a problem? Think what a great dad he would be!

Posted by: Anonymous | July 26, 2007 4:09 PM | Report abuse

Moxiemom

"I bet it would be hard to date jesus - he's always right"

And the Jewish mother-in-law, Mary, who thinks her son can do no wrong! And she's right.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 26, 2007 4:11 PM | Report abuse

4:09 - I'm sure he'd be a great dad - I dunno about the bedroom ( I think I hear thunder?) dont' think we should go there. Do you think Jesus ever gets tired of his dad telling him what to do? "Jesus - stop making that water into wine. I think you've had enough"

Posted by: Moxiemom | July 26, 2007 4:13 PM | Report abuse

4:11 - LOL - Can you imagine Mary as your MIL? "Well, I don't see anyone building any shrines to you missy!"

Posted by: Moxiemom | July 26, 2007 4:22 PM | Report abuse

Although - he is a carpenter and I do need some new built ins in the family room? I'll be Jesus could do a mean built up crown moulding too. I'm in. Where do I find him - J date?

Posted by: Moxiemom | July 26, 2007 4:24 PM | Report abuse

Moxiemom

"4:11 - LOL - Can you imagine Mary as your MIL? "Well, I don't see anyone building any shrines to you missy"

I couldn't pass up Jesus being the father of my kids. Think of the DNA alone! Yowza!But that mother-in-law! Maybe I could persuade the King of Kings to move. We could live anywhere!

Posted by: Anonymous | July 26, 2007 4:27 PM | Report abuse

Actually I always thought of Mary as being very Catholic. Salome strikes me as more the Jewish mother type.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 26, 2007 4:30 PM | Report abuse

We could live anywhere!

I dunno about that. I believe the address is at the right hand of the father which I'm thinking is at 102 heavenly lane.

Posted by: Moxiemom | July 26, 2007 4:43 PM | Report abuse

I've known I was bisexual all my life.

Kids found out at age 8 when we were all out playing normal games and I'd said I'd kiss the winner- who happened to be a girl. I didn't care- but everyone else did. That was the first instance I'd had where I realized other people were not ok with what I felt fine about- and by not ok I mean I'd be completely ridiculed, shunned, and beaten down until junior high when I could escape to new peers.

Due to that, I withdrew and was fat by age 11.

Thanks for the chuckle 3:10.

Posted by: Liz D | July 26, 2007 5:24 PM | Report abuse

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