Posts Tagged ‘ overweight ’

In Defense of the Mom Who Put Her 7-Year-Old Daughter on a Diet

Wednesday, January 16th, 2013

What is it like to have the whole world call you a bad mother?

Mom Dara-Lynn Weiss would know. Last year Weiss wrote about putting her obese 7-year-old daughter Bea on a strict diet, and posed with her, post-diet success, for the pages of Vogue. Weiss has now authored a slim memoir called The Heavy, out yesterday, about the experience. (The heavy is Weiss, who was the one to monitor Bea’s diet, and get tough when necessary.)

I’d read the Vogue article before I read the howling on the Internet over Weiss’s piece—she was called “abrasive,” “irrational,” “truly disgusting,” and a “monster,” among other things—and I was always sympathetic. Weiss’s story didn’t fit the profile of your “typical” overweight American family’s. She had served well-rounded dinners with healthy vegetables. She kept no junk food in her cupboards (which is more than I can say). And she reserved fast food for a semi-annual treat (ditto).

But the darling Bea, who was never content with the serving sizes that would satisfy her younger brother or other kids her age, gained weight at an alarming rate anyway. Weiss, who like many of her peers had had her own up-down relationship with weight and fad diets, freely admitted she was unprepared and ill-equipped to handle Bea’s obesity. Feeling discomfort about her daughter’s growing size but reluctant to say anything about it, Weiss chose silence instead, even after Bea’s pediatrician said it was time to get the 7-year-old’s 93 pounds under control.

The problem didn’t disappear, and sadly, Bea was starting to notice it, too, and began referring to herself as “fat,” in spite of reassurances from her parents that she was beautiful. Eventually Weiss chose a child-friendly, calorie-restricting plan that would give Bea the lifelong skills necessary to make judgment calls about which foods were indulgences, and which were healthier choices, without depriving Bea of treats altogether. It wasn’t always easy, and there are examples of interventions by Weiss that her (many) critics saw as excessive, even psychologically damaging, but Weiss was taking on a daunting task: helping a child lose weight in a world of doorstopper-size cupcakes.

Perhaps I felt for Weiss, and for Bea, in part because I recently struggled with weight myself. (Not surprisingly, Weiss writes that others who had been overweight as children confided that they wished their parents had done more to help them.) I’d read moving stories written by plus-size women about loving their bodies the way they are, and while I admired their self-acceptance, I’d never been able to feel that for myself. Besides the obvious worries about my health, being fat sucked. I felt uncomfortable, embarrassed, even sad about my weight. I wouldn’t want my daughters or my son to go through it, and Weiss’s book says what I and most parents I know would feel squeamish saying aloud: No one wants her child to have to struggle with being fat.

Like Weiss had done, I watch my language around my kids, having banished “fat” and “bad” from my vocabulary when we’re talking about food, doing whatever I can to help my daughters, now 7 and 1, in particular sidestep a painful path towards self-loathing or an eating disorder. But I admit I also don’t want my kids going down the road to obesity, and its social ostracism and disease. So I felt drawn to Weiss’s candor about childhood obesity, and I just plain old liked her for her admissions about having made some mistakes along the way. (Who hasn’t?) I winced for her after reading about the surprising amount of pain she felt from the (international!) criticism of her Vogue article, and her genuine regret about having allowed Bea to pose with her.

I know some will accuse Weiss of trying to profit from her daughter’s battle. But I found it eye-opening to read an honest, firsthand account from a parent willing to speak difficult truths about her family’s experience with childhood obesity.

It takes a lot of courage to bare your failures and frailties as a parent. Perhaps a few moms and dads who read Weiss’s memoir will walk away from it, as I did, with a more intimate understanding of what it’s like to raise a kid who struggles with weight.

And maybe we can all be a little less judgmental of the friend or neighbor we know whose kid is coping with one of the last taboos: the public, painful experience of childhood obesity.

For a different view, read why one writer and mother strongly disliked The Heavy: Mother Puts Daughter on Crazy Diet in “The Heavy’

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Parents Daily News Roundup

Wednesday, October 31st, 2012

Goody Blog Daily News Roundup

Videos Reduce Children’s Anxiety Prior to Surgery
Research has found that having children watch a video immediately prior to surgery can reduce their anxiety during anesthesia induction, the most stressful time for children throughout the perioperative process. (via Science Daily)

Homelessness, High Mobility Threaten Children’s Achievement
Children who are homeless or move frequently have chronically lower math and reading skills than other low-income students who don’t move as much. (via Science Daily)

Closing Schools During Flu Outbreaks May Lessen ER Visits
A new U.S. government study suggests that during a serious flu epidemic, closing schools can keep people – especially kids – out of the ER. (via Reuters)

Kids Who Smoke Menthol More Likely to Get Hooked
Kids who experiment with menthol cigarettes are more likely to become habitual smokers than their peers who start out with the regular variety, new research findings suggest. (via Reuters)

Overweight and Smoking During Pregnancy Boost Risk of Overweight Kids
Moms who carry too much weight and/or who smoke during pregnancy increase the risk of having overweight kids, indicates a systematic analysis of the available evidence published online in the Archives of Disease in Childhood. (via Science Daily)

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Parents Daily News Roundup

Friday, October 5th, 2012

Goody Blog Daily News Roundup

Couples Trying to Conceive Might Need Help Sooner, Study Says
A new mathematical method predicts a woman’s odds of becoming pregnant at various ages, and may help determine how long couples should wait before seeking medical help. (via HealthDay)

Troubled Kids in ER: Psych Illness or Just Unruly?
According to new data, American children visit the emergency room as often as 825,000 times a year—not for broken bones or belly aches, but to urgently see a psychiatrist. (via NBC News)

Free Birth Control Significantly Cuts Abortion Rates
The national abortion rate would plummet if women at risk for unintended pregnancies received the birth control of their choice at no cost, a new study has found. (via Time)

Teen Smoking Linked to Earlier Death
Teenagers who smoke are more likely to die of heart disease decades down the line, even if they quit by the time they’re middle-aged. (via Reuters)

Overweight Kids Take More Prescription Meds
A new Canadian study finds that overweight children take more prescription medications than children of normal weight. Researchers say this shows an unexpected link to rising health care costs. (via PsychCentral)

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Parents Daily News Roundup

Thursday, September 20th, 2012

Goody Blog Daily News Roundup

The First Drug that Could Ease Social Withdrawal in Autism
An experimental drug that helps people with Fragile X syndrome showed promising results for a treatment for autism. (via Time)

Weight and Taste Sensitivity Are Linked, New Study Says
Obese children have less sensitive taste buds than kids of normal weight, and that may drive them to eat more. (via ABC News)

Study Finds Concerning Levels of Arsenic in Rice
After testing more than 200 samples of rice products, researchers found measurable amounts of arsenic in almost every single one. (via CBS News)

Cancers on the Rise in Pregnant Women
The number of pregnant women diagnosed with cancer has increased over the past few decades, likely due to the older age of expectant mothers and better detection methods. (via Reuters)

Report: Kids Should Only Eat Tuna Once a Month
New research suggests that kids should only eat light tuna once or twice a month to keep their mercury intake at a safe level. (via CNN)

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Parents Daily News Roundup

Tuesday, August 28th, 2012

Goody Blog Daily News Roundup

Midlife Fitness Delays Chronic Disease
A study in this week’s Archive of Internal Medicine finds that being fit in the middle of your life not only delays the onset of chronic diseases later in life, but also shortens the duration of disease. (via CNN)

Is Technology Harming Your Child’s Eyes?
While technology is revolutionizing the classroom, health experts warn computers, smartboards and tablets could lead to eye strain and fatigue. (via Fox News)

Only Children More Likely to Be Overweight
Kids with no siblings may be at increased risk for childhood obesity, a new study from Europe suggests. In the study, children between ages 2 to 9 with no siblings were about 50 percent more likely to be overweight than children who had siblings. (via NBC)

U.S. Appeals Court Upholds Block on Graphic Cigarette Warning Labels
A federal appeals court on Friday upheld a decision 2-1 barring the federal government from requiring tobacco companies to put large graphic health warnings on cigarette packages to show that smoking can disfigure and even kill people. (via Time)

How Making Brain Tumors Grow Saves Lives
A neurosurgeon at Indiana University Health Neuroscience Center has developed a method to make cancerous tumors grow, which helps to identify tumors more easily and facilitate a more thorough removal. (via ABC)

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Parents Daily News Roundup

Friday, August 17th, 2012

Goody Blog Daily News Roundup

The Motherhood Penalty: We’re in the Midst of a ‘Mom-Cession’
Married mothers find it harder to secure a new job after being laid off and when they do, they earn less than married fathers. (via Time)

8 Children Die in August After Being Left in Hot Cars
Twenty-three children have died of hyperthermia in cars in 14 states this year and eight of the deaths occurred in the first week of August. Nearly 40 children die this way each year, according to Kids and Cars. (via ABC News)

FDA Investigates Codeine Safety After Children’s Deaths
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 ABC News)

Smoking in Pregnancy Increases Asthma Risk in Preschool
Maternal smoking during pregnancy is associated with wheeze and asthma in preschool children, even among children who were not exposed to maternal smoking late in pregnancy or after birth, according to a new study. (via Science Daily)

Children’s self-control may help keep them thin
The ability to delay gratification as a child may lower a person’s chances of being overweight later in life, according to new research. (via MSNBC)

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Parents Daily News Roundup

Wednesday, January 4th, 2012

Goody Blog Daily News Roundup

F.D.A. Finds Short Supply of Attention Deficit Drugs
Medicines to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder are in such short supply that hundreds of patients complain daily to the Food and Drug Administration that they are unable to find a pharmacy with enough pills to fill their prescriptions.

Teachers Resist High-Tech Push in Idaho Schools
Teachers in Idaho and elsewhere have been in revolt over policy makers thrusting technology into classrooms and shifting money to unproven teaching methods.

Ads Featuring Overweight Children Make Some Experts Uncomfortable
Heavy children talk about their obesity in a series of ads that have experts debating whether aggressive public health campaigns are educational or exploitative.

Playtime for Preschoolers Essential, Study Says
Preschoolers in child care centers aren’t spending enough time playing outdoors and just being kids, according to a new study published in this week’s Pediatrics journal.

Stores Restock Baby Formula After FDA Clears Safety
Walgreen Co. and Supervalu Inc. said they are in the process of restocking a batch of powdered infant formula that U.S. regulators last week declared to be safe and clear of the bacteria linked to the death of one baby and illness of two others.

Toddler Naps Aid Emotional Control
It may be more important to put a child down for a nap than you know. In additional to giving the parent or caregiver a brief respite, a new study suggests daytime naps reduce the risk of mood-related problems later in life.

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Parents Daily News Roundup

Tuesday, December 6th, 2011

Goody Blog Daily News Roundup

Few Parents Recall Doctor Saying Child Overweight
Pediatricians are supposed to track if youngsters are putting on too many pounds — but a new study found less than a quarter of parents of overweight children recall the doctor ever saying there was a problem.

Study Finds How Child Abuse Changes the Brain
Children exposed to family violence show the same pattern of activity in their brains as soldiers exposed to combat, scientists said on Monday.

Flu Vaccination Rates Up, Especially Among Kids
Some 36.7% of children aged 6 months to 17 years had received a flu shot as of early November, an increase of 6.1 percentage points from the same time last year, according to a survey conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

New Bill Alerts Parents to Teen Driving Habits
A new bill is headed to Florida’s house and senate aiming to increase safety by keeping parents in the know.

Teeth-Grinding Could Signal Sleep Problems
Sleep-related bruxism is the official term for grinding your teeth during sleep. It occurs in approximately 14% to 17% of children, although these rates decrease with age.

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