Parental Fat Stigma

A recent NY Times article, Do Parents Make Kids Fat, explores the issues of parents being considered responsible for enabling their children to become fat.

Here’s an excerpt:

“When you are the parent of an obese child, there is tremendous stigma,” said Dr. Julie Lumeng, a professor of pediatrics at the University of Michigan. “Everyone looks at the parent and thinks: That parent is incompetent. They don’t care about their child. Why can’t they just make the child eat less and exercise?”

There’s an underlying assumption here about what adults can control, and about how children can be controlled, if only their parents would take the trouble, or make and enforce healthy rules for the whole family, or read the nutritional information on the back of the cereal box….

So yes, for all children, whatever their risk for obesity, good parental decisions about nutrition really matter: It’s important not to overfeed babies, to keep junk food and sugary drinks out of the house, to not let kids eat in front of the screen, and to encourage kids to “eat the rainbow” of fruits and vegetables. But those who rush to judgment should be aware that it is not at all simple to “say no” all the time to an extra-hungry child, or to “feed more vegetables” to the kid who refuses to eat anything green.

Most parents — really — are doing our best, in the complicated food environment in which our children are growing up, with the daily struggles of family life…

“The good parenting that a lot of families exercise when it comes to health,” said Dr. Lumeng, “that may be good enough for a lot of kids, but with some kids with a genetic makeup that predisposes them to obesity, it’s not enough.”

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1 thought on “Parental Fat Stigma

  1. Pingback: How Helpful Are School-Based BMI Measurements? | gutsandgrowth

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