Posts Tagged ‘ eating disorders ’

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

Add a Comment

Parents Daily News Roundup

Wednesday, August 22nd, 2012

Goody Blog Daily News Roundup

Doctors Announce FDA-Approved Trial to Cure Autism with Cord Blood
Researchers announced Tuesday the beginning of a FDA-approved clinical trial that uses umbilical cord blood stem cells to ‘cure’ autism. (via Fox News)

Ouch-Free Vaccines? They’re in The Works
Every parent dreads holding the baby still while a nurse or technician pushes a needle into a plump little thigh. But what if a little clear patch arrived by mail, one that could be stuck onto the child’s back and then would dissolve painlessly? (via MSNBC)

Music Lessons Linked to Lasting Brain Benefits
A study of 45 young adults found those with at least one year of childhood musical training had enhanced neurological responses to sound, a trait tied to improved learning and listening abilities. (via ABC)

More Hispanics Are in College, Report Finds
College enrollment has soared for Hispanic young adults in the last few years. Among Americans ages 18 to 24 with a high school diploma or equivalent, 46 percent of Hispanics were enrolled in college last year, up from 37 percent in 2008. (via New York Times)

Child Eating Disorders On the Rise
A study conducted by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality showed that hospitalizations for eating disorders in children under 12 increased by 119% between 1999 and 2006. (via CNN)

Add a Comment

Parents Daily News Roundup

Thursday, February 23rd, 2012

Goody Blog Daily News Roundup

Teen Girl Dies After Inhaling Helium at Party
Ashley, 14, died last weekend after inhaling helium from a pressurized tank during a party in Medford, Ore. Her parents hope their daughter’s death will teach others about the dangers of helium.

Eating Disorders on the Rise in Teen Boys
NBC’s chief medical editor Dr. Nancy Snyderman warns parents about the rising number of teenage boys affected by eating disorders, and explains why their symptoms often go unnoticed.

Disturbing Trend: Teen Girls Asking Internet if They’re Pretty
A rising trend among young girls, where they post videos of themselves on Youtube asking others if they are pretty, has some experts and parents concerned, reported.

More U.S. Kids Living in High-Poverty Areas: Study
Years of economic setbacks have taken their toll on the nation’s youngest residents, with another 1.6 million children living in high-poverty neighborhoods, according to one study that shows nearly 8 million children residing in poor areas in 2010.

Mainland Chinese Flock to Hong Kong to Give Birth
Parents go to Hong Kong for better medical care and lifelong residency benefits for their children, but locals are outraged over being shut out of maternity wards.

Blood Test Detects Down Syndrome During Pregnancy
A second company reports that it has developed a prenatal blood test to detect Down syndrome, potentially providing yet another option for pregnant women who want to know whether their unborn child has the condition.

Add a Comment

Parents Daily News Roundup

Tuesday, February 14th, 2012

Goody Blog Daily News Roundup

Babies Understand Words from 6 Months Old, Scientists Say
Babies understand basic words at a much earlier age than previously thought, US scientists claimed. University of Pennsylvania researchers found that infants aged between six and nine months can grasp the meaning of common words months before they can speak them.

Minn. School Board Ends Policy Blamed for Bullying
Minnesota’s largest school district has abandoned a much-criticized policy that required teachers to remain neutral when issues of sexual identity came up in the classroom and replaced it with one that’s meant to foster a respectful learning environment for all students, gay or straight, religious or not, liberal or conservative.

Like Mother, Like Daughter: Eating Disorders Run in Families
Research shows disorders run in families; a relative of a person with an eating disorder is ten times more likely to have the illness than someone without a family history of disorders.

Couple Keeps Twins in Yearlong Quarantine
A Kansas City-area couple quarantines their twins for a year to protect them.

Duggars Talk about Their Miscarriage, Next Pregnancy
Despite the pain of her recent miscarriage, TLC reality-show star and mother of 19 Michelle Duggar says she’d like to have more children if she’s able.

Best Valentine Ever? Six-Year-Old Girl with Cancer Gets Date with Justin Bieber
Battling a rare form of cancer, Avalanna Routh scored the most coveted Valentine’s Day date in the world this year.

Add a Comment

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.

Add a Comment

Parents Daily News Roundup

Monday, August 8th, 2011

Goody Blog Daily News Roundup

FBI Launches New Missing Child App
The FBI has launched a new mobile application to help put the safety of children in the hands of their parents or guardians.

The scary trend of tweens with anorexia
In the beginning, Walker never suspected that her fourth-grader might be developing an eating disorder. “She was only 10,” she says. “If she’d been 13, I would have worried, but I didn’t think it could happen to a 10 year old.”

Children learn hacker ways at DefCon
Since DefCon debuted in 1993, many once-nefarious attendees have become computer security good guys bent on defending companies and homes against cyberattacks.

Secret for a safe kid’s lunch: Extra ice
When you’re packing your kid’s lunchbox in the morning, the ice pack is just as important as the fruit and the sandwich. And new research finds you might need more than one to keep your little one healthy.

Children’s HIV Drugs May Cause High Cholesterol
Children with HIV who receive antiretroviral treatments have persistently high cholesterol and other blood fat (lipid) levels, and would benefit from guidelines aimed at reducing their long-term heart risks, researchers say.

UN fears for children in Australia refugee swap
The United Nations children’s agency called on Australia Friday to scrap “inhumane” plans to send unaccompanied minors to Malaysia as part of a refugee swap.

Add a Comment

Daily News Roundup

Tuesday, November 30th, 2010

AAP Clinical Report: Children’s Eating Disorders On The Rise
In the past decade, a growing number of children and adolescents have been diagnosed with eating disorders. In a new clinical report from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), “Identification and Management of Eating Disorders in Children and Adolescents,” published in the December 2010 issue of Pediatrics (published online Nov. 29), it is estimated that 0.5 percent of adolescent girls in the United States have anorexia nervosa, and 1 percent to 2 percent meet criteria for bulimia nervosa. [Medical News Today]

AAP Report: Managing Food Allergies At School
Food allergy is estimated to affect roughly 1 in 25 school-aged children and is a common trigger of anaphylaxis, a severe, potentially fatal, systemic allergic reaction. Studies of children with food allergy indicate that 16 percent to 18 percent have had a reaction in school. In a new clinical report, “Management of Food Allergy in the School Setting” in the December 2010 issue of Pediatrics (published online Nov. 29), the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) gives guidance on managing food allergies at school and on the prevention and treatment of food-induced anaphylaxis. [Medical News Today]

Elevated Blood Pressure Suffered By Up To 8 Percent Of Canadian Children
“We blame kids for being fat, we blame kids for being inactive, we blame kids not eating right or the families for not feeding their kids right,” says Terrance Wade, the Canada Research Chair in youth and wellness at Brock University. “But a lot of these things are not based on individual choices because your life choices and such are constrained by your life chances.”  [Medical News Today]


Add a Comment