Posts Tagged ‘ diet ’

Scale Down: Are We Overreacting to Dara-Lynn Weiss and Her Book, The Heavy?

Thursday, March 21st, 2013

I knew very little about author Dara-Lynn Weiss before attending the moderated discussion about her controversial book, The Heavy, this past week at The Jewish Community Center in Manhattan. I knew Weiss was the cause of mommy-blog explosions, some in defense of her choice to put her overweight 7-year-old daughter on a diet, many more filled with vitriol and contempt.

But I decided to walk in without having read the infamously provoking Vogue article, published in April 2012, or her book, which came out in January of this year.

Based on her talk, I couldn’t understand why there was such a venomous outcry from the parenting community. Did her choice to restrict her daughter’s diet sound controversial? Yes. But worthy of such hate? Not to me. And then I read the Vogue essay. And then I understood the problem. The woman who sat and spoke before me did not seem to be the same woman who wrote for the fashion mag one year ago.

From the moment Weiss sat down, she emphasized that there are just some things in life parents have to do because they are the parent. Sometimes a mom as to be “the heavy”—pun intended. The fact was that Weiss’s daughter, Bea, weighed 93 pounds at a height of four feet four inches, which had Bea’s BMI clocking in at the 98th percentile for her age group. The obesity marker sits at the 95th percentile. Obese people, whether 7 or 47, are medically advised to lose weight. Bea’s pediatrician told Weiss “the trend”—meaning Bea’s overweight status—“was not correcting itself.” Bea was not going to simply grow out of this, as so many of Weiss’s peers believed. Weiss admits that she clung to this diagnosis and removed her own thoughts about whether it was right or not to consciously adjust her daughter’s eating. “I did not accept that decision-making moment. It was nice to cling to the fact that it’s a health issue,” Weiss said.

Yet even with medical evidence to back up her need to take action, Weiss explained she experienced a paralysis about how to handle a child’s weight problem when indeed there is a problem to deal with. Weiss had no clue where to start. Bea wasn’t loading up on soda and junk food. Weiss faced a difficult challenge. If your child is eating healthfully, but is still obese, what do you do?

“So much of the response to childhood obesity is: ‘Don’t talk about weight. Don’t ever use the word diet. Focus on health.’ But that doesn’t work for me. I wanted to know how many calories a 7-year-old should eat. People always say eat different, but it really is about eating less sometimes. And that’s not an answer people want to give you,” Weiss said as she expressed her frustration. Weiss’s dilemma illustrates a widespread problem: Parents don’t know how much their children should be eating to keep them growing, but keep them healthy.

While the Weiss in Vogue appeared to fixate on her daughter’s appearance, the Weiss I saw truly seemed to have her daughter’s health at top of mind, not some compulsion to uphold a standard of thinness or beauty in her 7-year-old. In fact, Weiss directly stated that she had no desire for her daughter to be thin. “ ‘Thin’ should be used in the same way as ‘fat,’ as a deviation from the norm,” Weiss said. Her goal was to get Bea to the healthy weight marker, not below it.

And here is where I wonder if it all comes down to semantics. If Dara-Lynn Weiss had said “I’m putting my obese daughter on an ‘eating plan,’” and put that article in, say, Women’s Health, rather than “Bea had grown fat. … We put Bea on a diet,’” in Vogue would things have transpired differently? Is the real problem not the calorie-counting, but the language Weiss used with regard to Bea, whose self-image may be developing and fragile? Are we just hung up on the word “fat” coming from an adult, aimed at a child?

While critics argue that her primary concern was not Bea’s health but a number on the scale, in Weiss’ defense, the number on the scale is one way we measure health. So, the question becomes: Do we need to adjust the measurements? Is it a systemic problem that weight is such a significant marker?

We know we have a weight problem in this country and childhood obesity is on the rise. Yet, the majority of the general public verbally flogged Weiss for trying to do something about it. To this day, Weiss maintains that with The Heavy she just wanted to be an example of a strong mom who did a tough thing, “Maybe if I say that it’s okay to limit our children, other mothers will feel ok to limit their children when it is for their own good.”

Read more about Dara-Lynn Weiss on

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Parents Daily News Roundup

Thursday, August 30th, 2012

Goody Blog Daily News Roundup

Plunge in Child Mortality Leaves UN Unsatisfied
Child mortality has decreased rapidly over 20 years, though not fast enough to reach the United Nations goal of lessening deaths of children under age 5 by two-thirds between 1990 and 2015, according to U.N. researchers. (via Fox News)

Study: More Hispanic Children with Autism Remain Undiagnosed
UC Davis MIND Institute released this week the largest study to date comparing the development of Hispanic and non-Hispanic children and found a higher percentage of Hispanic children often have undiagnosed developmental delays, or autism. (via NBC)

Transgender Dad Pushes for Right to Lead Breast-Feeding Group
A transgender man who gave birth to his first child last year is so grateful to La Leche League for helping him breast-feed that he hoped to become a group leader. But the stay-at-home dad was told that according to their policy only “a mother who has breast-fed a baby” is allowed to become a La Leche League leader. (via Today)

Study: Drug-Resistant Tuberculosis Still A Global Threat
A recent international study found alarmingly high levels drug-resistant strains of tuberculosis (TB) in a number of countries. (via Time)

Severe Diet Doesn’t Prolong Life—At Least in Monkeys
The results of this major, long-awaited study, which began in 1987, are finally in. The hope was that if the monkeys lived longer, healthier lives by eating a lot less, then maybe people, their evolutionary cousins, would, too. (via MSNBC)

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Parents Daily News Roundup

Thursday, August 16th, 2012

Goody Blog Daily News Roundup

Job Losses Persist for the Less-Educated
After suffering the largest share of job losses in the recession, Americans with no more than a high school education have continued to lose jobs during the sputtering recovery while better-educated people have gained millions of jobs, according to a Georgetown University study. (via New York Times)

Blood Type Might Be a Clue to Heart Disease Risk
People who have blood types A, B, or AB have a slightly higher risk of heart disease compared to those with type O, the most common kind, according to research released Tuesday. (via Associated Press)

U.S. Kids Downing More Diet Drinks
The number of U.S. children who drink sugar-free beverages has doubled in the past decade, a new study finds. (via Reuters)

Chemical in Antibacterical Soap Weakens Muscle Function
A new study questions the safety of triclosan, a common chemical in antibacterial products like soap, toothpaste and mouthwash. (via Time)

Children’s Self Control is Associated with Their Body Mass Index as Adults
A new study scheduled for publication in The Journal of Pediatrics finds that delaying gratification longer at 4 years of age is associated with having a lower body mass index (BMI) 30 years later. (via Science Daily)

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Parents Daily News Roundup

Tuesday, May 15th, 2012

Goody Blog Daily News Roundup

In Choosing a Sperm Donor, a Roll of the Genetic Dice
In households across the country, children conceived with donated sperm are struggling with serious genetic conditions inherited from men they have never met.

Birth-Defect Risk Seen in Assisted Conception
An Australian survey of about 300,000 pregnancies, with more than 6,000 resulting from fertility treatments, found that treatment was associated with a 28 percent greater risk for birth defects.

Watching TV Linked to Poor Diet in Students
A national survey of more than 12,000 students in grades 5 to 10 has found that television viewing is associated not only with unhealthy snacking while watching, but also with unhealthy eating at all times.

Play Baseball Against a Girl? Arizona School Forfeits Game Instead
A Phoenix Catholic school, Our Lady of Sorrows, decided it would rather lose a baseball championship than play against a team with a girl.

First Lady Has Plan to Get Kids Involved in Sports
The first lady is partnering with the U.S. Olympic Committee, the Partnership for a Healthier America, U.S. Paralympics and numerous national governing bodies that have pledged their time and resources toward introducing young people to their sports over the course of the summer.

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Parents Daily News Roundup

Tuesday, March 27th, 2012

Goody Blog Daily News Roundup

How Parents Are Changing the Course of Autism Research
Science and medicine are catching up with parents’ understanding of the condition, and a more nuanced view is slowly emerging: Autism is not just a brain problem.

Pharmacies Deter Teens from Plan B, Study Shows
Even though it’s legal for 17-year-olds to get the so-called morning-after pill, a new study shows that pharmacy employees often dole out the wrong information, telling the teens they’re not allowed to have the drug.

Ind. Mom Who Lost Legs Saving Kids in Tornado Returns Home
Stephanie Decker had been working her way home — spending hours each day on weight training, balance training and other therapy. She reached her goal Monday — heading home 24 days after she lost parts of her legs while shielding her children from their collapsing house near Henryville, Ind., during the March 2 tornado outbreak and clinging to life beneath pounding hail.

Mother’s Strict Diet for 7-Year-Old Raises Controversy, Criticism
In a controversial article appearing in the April issue of Vogue magazine, author Dara-Lynn Weiss writes about the strict diet she imposed upon her daughter after a pediatrician suggested she was clinically obese.

‘Mama’s Boy Myth’: Sons Who Are Close to Mom Are Stronger
Author Kate Stone Lombardi contends in her new book, “The Mama’s Boy Myth,” that having a close mother-son relationship makes boys stronger and ultimately helps them be better partners and husbands.

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Parents Daily News Roundup

Wednesday, February 29th, 2012

Goody Blog Daily News Roundup

UNICEF: Millions of Kids Live in Urban Squalor
Millions of children are growing up in squalid urban areas and denied basic services despite living close to them, the United Nations Children’s Fund said Tuesday.

More Drugs Being Approved for Rare Diseases in Kids
A growing number of drugs are coming to market to help treat rare diseases in children, a new U.S. government study finds.

FDA Approves Breath Test to Determine Bacterial Infection in Kids
U.S. health regulators have approved Otsuka America Pharmaceutical’s breath test to detect bacterial infection that causes stomach inflammation and ulcer, for use in children aged 3 to 17 years.

Why Pediatricians Say Breast-Feeding is About Public Health, Not Just Lifestyle
In a quietly worded statement released this week, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has recalibrated the national dialogue on breast-feeding, deeming it a “public health issue and not only a lifestyle choice.”

Still Too Much Sugar in Kids’ Diets, Researchers Say
America’s intake of sugary foods and drinks has dropped in recent years, but U.S. kids are still consuming too much, government researchers say.

Sweet Photo of Dad Feeding Baby Turns Controversial
A father tenderly giving his baby a bottle… what could be wrong with that? Breast-feeding advocates in New Zealand demanded that an ad campaign delete an image of a dad feeding his baby, complaining it undercut their “breast is best” message.

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Parents Daily News Roundup

Friday, September 2nd, 2011

Goody Blog Daily News Roundup

CDC: Doctors prescribing fewer antibiotics to kids
A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study released Thursday found that since the early 1990s, there’s been a 10 percent drop in prescription rates for antibiotics for kids 14 and younger.

Do Parents Put Too Much Pressure on Students?
In China, 68 percent of adults think parents pressure students too much, and just 11 percent think they don’t push them hard enough.

Domestic worker bill sparks outrage from parents
A bill making its way through the state legislature is supposed to
protect the rights of domestic workers, but critics said it will make it tough for parents to hire a babysitter.

Is “diet” a dirty word?
Here’s an update on the earlier post today about the controversial, new book (not yet available) “Maggie Goes on a Diet,” (Alohan, 2011) and how many experts, including the one quoted extensively in the previous post, believe that encouraging overweight children to diet can be psychologically damaging.

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Daily News Roundup

Monday, March 14th, 2011

Goody Blog Daily News RoundupGene Tests Label Kids Sports Stars
Scientists have identified several genes that may play a role in determining strength, speed and other aspects of athletic performance.  Marketers have begun to sell genetic tests based on these findings online for up to $200. Some customers say the test results help them steer their children to appropriate sports. But skeptical doctors and ethicists say the tests are putting profit before science. [MSNBC]
Mom Guilt: 94 Percent of Us Have It.  Can We Ditch It for a Week?
BabyCenter declared last week “Guilt-Free Parenting Week. Guilt is the source of a campaign at Baby Center, which reports that 94 percent of moms surveyed feel parenting-related guilt. The challenge: live your life for a week with guilt-free parenting. [Today Moms]
Hot-to-Trot Ponies?  Dolls That Wax?  Toys Get Tarted Up
Toy manufacturers began following the marketing strategy “Kids Getting Older Younger” when they realized that toys marketed towards kids between the ages of 8 and 12 were attracting kids who were in the 3-year-old to 8-year-old age range because they wanted to emulate their older brothers and sisters. [Today Parenting]
Anesthesia For Kids Necessary, But Cognitive Danger?
An estimated 4 million children receive anesthesia every year, but little is known about their effects on the developing brain. A growing body of data from studies in animals suggests that these drugs could adversely affect neurologic, cognitive, and social development of neonates and young children. [Medical News Today]

Mexico Puts Its Children on a Diet
By all measures, and the obesity starts early. One in three children is overweight or obese, according to the government. So the nation’s health and education officials stepped in last year to limit what schools could sell at recess. [The New York Times]

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