Are you consciously, or unconsciously, enabling your child to be obese?

A recent study in Childhood Obesity revealed more than three-quarters of parents of pre-school obese sons and nearly 70 percent of parents of pre-school obese daughters described their children as “about the right weight.”

That means those parents are either in denial or we have a widespread case of early onset myopia among adults.

eating_2240071bThe study’s author, Dr. David L. Katz, has coined a word for the problem: oblivobesity.

He says some parents turn a blind eye to pleasingly plump offspring, hoping they’ll eventually grow out of it. Other parents, who also happen to be obese (and, ergo, serve as role models) aren’t about to change their dietary habits in order to slim down the kids. And, then, there’s the political correctness of the new normal which celebrates plus-sized women while decrying the waif-like appearance of runway models.

Besides the obvious, and very real, long-term damage obesity wreaks on the body, parents should also consider the image and reputation handicaps a hands-off weight management styles will cause their kids. While I don’t have any readily-handy statistics to support my POV, I do believe obese, and severely obese, children (and adults) will face additional challenges as they progress through life.

It’s tough enough to succeed in today’s celebrity-looks obsessed society. Why allow Johnny or Janey to fight image barriers while they simultaneously combat diabetes, high blood pressure and countless other side effects of obesity?

5 thoughts on “Oblivobesity

  1. I totally agree with your comments about setting your children up to have reputation handicaps. Children don’t know better unless you teach them. And once a child is used to eating a certain amount of food/type of food, and having a certain un-active lifestyle it’s hard to change those habbits. They’re not like adults, who can see the light at the end of the tunnel of a diet or a new workout routine. Healthy habbits need to be started from the begining. Now as I say this, I’m not one to talk. My husband and I have horrible eating habbits. But as marathon runners, we’ve developed a balance. We’re trying to change our eating habbits, knowing that we need to set a better example for our children, who can’t just go out for a 12 mile run for fun. And, nor can we these days with two little munchkins!

  2. Totally agree with the premise here for parents to watch more closely what their kids are eating, and especially to be good role models in the foods they eat. I would be curious however to see updated stats on obesity in minority populations. The article you cited states the big barrier for these communities: “Eating healthy costs more.” Lower income communities have traditionally suffered from higher obesity rates because of this, and the fact that healthy food shops/supermarkets are hard to come by in those neighborhoods. They are in effect food deserts. More needs to be done to bring healthier food alternatives to these populations at lower prices, which will in turn give parents a better choice.

    • Spot on, Paul. There’s no doubt part of the problem is the high cost of healthy food vs. per capita income of minority communities.

  3. Sounds as if you are handling it wonderfully, Jackie. Particularly with your daughter. Sadly, eating disorders among young men is increasing.

  4. You know this has been a hot topic of mine for some time and I think it comes down to pure laziness – it’s easier to let your kid exist on a diet of pasta with butter and French fries because then you don’t have to fight with them or make the effort to actually cook.

    I was shocked and appalled at my daughter’s recent dance recital with the number of girls who were grossly overweight, girls that are dancing 5-6 days a week. These parents are setting them up for a life-long battle for their overall health and well-being. That said, you also have to be concerned (especially with girls) over body weight image and eating disorders. I am very careful with my kids to talk about being “fit” and having a “healthy heart” vs. talking about being fat or thin.