Teacher, leave them kids alone

"Go on then, Mummy, just this once. I'm back on my diet tomorrow."

It’s wouldn’t be a shocker if I were to tell you that a UK magazine had airbrushed a cover model’s arms to make them look thinner would it? But if I added that it was Practical Parenting magazine and the cover model is five months old, then how would you feel?

And what if I told you that someone in the US had been denied medical insurance because they were ‘obese’? No matter whether you think it’s right or wrong, or how informed you are about the real causes of obesity, you’d either feel angry towards the health insurers and the government legislation that makes it possible or angry at the obese person for eating too much and not caring about their own health. But when I tell you that the person in question is an infant that’s still breast feeding, then what would you think?

When babies are being airbrushed to remove their chubby creases and refused health care for being too fat when they have yet to eat a solid meal, things have gone far too far. The result is that babies as young as five months old are being taken to gyms across London to work out, to quell the fears of their image conscious yummy mummies who don’t want to be seen to have had a fat child. And even my friends are choosing to give their children Diet Coke, which contains a sweetener that is a chemical drug of questionable safety, rather than give them a drink that contains sugar because they’re worried about their child’s calorie consumption.

I’m usually irritated or angry about this kind of thing when it applies to adults but now I’m actually scared.

I have a lot to say about children and fat and about the massive drive in schools to coerce them into healthy eating that is going to backfire in a way that right now we can’t even imagine. It’s already affecting our kids as what used to be called ‘puppy fat’ precisely because it disappeared when the stored energy was used in adolescent growth spurts, is now staying put into adulthood. Which, if you can drag your eyes away from the fat itself for one second and look at the causes, is a big sign that the eating problems created by the interference with a child’s natural regulation of food are growing in parallel with the ‘healthy eating’ advice churned out and poured into the impressionable brains of our kids via the classroom by the Government and in the media.

Hundreds of medical trials and scientific studies have found that if you interfere with a child’s natural food regulation, you will cause your child to grow up with an eating disorder. Dieting mothers ‘infect’ their daughters with disordered eating and problems with self esteem and negative body image. Coercion into dietary restriction in children causes them to crave the banned foods and makes ‘unhealthy’ food more desirable. Just have a look at one small but widely ignored experiment conducted by the BBC’s The Truth About Food A couple of years ago.

When you give your child an eating disorder by teaching it that foods are good and bad and by trying to control their weight you could give them any of the disorders on the ED scale and that could be anywhere between anorexia and morbid obesity.

And morbid obesity is an eating disorder. Unfortunately, our society’s obsession with image and thinness means that when an eating disorder causes extreme thinness it gets a medical name that describes the disorder itself but when an eating disorder causes extreme fatness, it gets a medical name that describes the most socially unacceptable side effect rather than the actual problem.

And the statistics show that it’s much more likely that you’ll have a child with morbid obesity than anorexia. Luckily for you as a parent, morbid obesity kills your child much more slowly than anorexia does.

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About antidieter

My mission is to enlighten people - in more ways than one!
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3 Responses to Teacher, leave them kids alone

  1. “And what if I told you that someone in the US had been denied medical insurance because they were ‘obese’?”

    that doesn’t supprise me… I’ve heard of people been denied insurance for all sorts of reasons including due to being raped.

    interesting blog. However, one quick point: there have been countless studies done showing that before after the age of 6 humans become bad at regulating their food intake, having to rely on social cues up to about the age of 12 or 13 when the body alters to the intake that it is used to. So if the parents totall ignore the childs food intake it’s likely that the childs body will adjust to too high an intake resulting in obesity.

    I do agreee though that the “good” and “bad” food mentality is harmful, the black/white thinking regarding food can be damging, in fact more often than not IS damaging… the child will either rebel eating more of the “bad” food or will cut out the “bad” food entirely resulting in a lack of certain nutrients.

    I’ve never understood why people think that eating disorder = thinness… there are categories of EDNOS which result in obsesity, and even bulimia can result in a person being “normal” or slightly over-weight.

    I guess people just dislike the idea of anything being spectum, they prefer a simple and obvious cut and dry aproch of A = B

    • antidieter says:

      Hi,
      Thanks for your comment. Interesting indeed. I’m hoping you can point me towards some of the research that shows that humans become bad at regulating food from the age of 6 – and to see if the trials have been done without dietary restriction causing this bad regulation. After all, it doesn’t make sense from a survival point of view.

      I found this article, for your information:

      Copyright 2004 Times Newspapers Limited 
      The Times (London) 
      SECTION: Features; Times2; 10 

      LENGTH: 654 words 

      HEADLINE: Dangers for tiny dieters 

      BYLINE: Peta Bee 

      BODY: 
      Attempts to lose weight by girls as young as five produce unhealthy results, says Peta Bee 

      PRESSURES to be thin are now being felt by girls as young as 5, who are lapsing into dangerous dietary practices such as binge-eating and yo-yo dieting. A study of 153 girls by researchers at Pennsylvania State University’s department of human development and family studies reveals that many girls who began thinking they were too fat at 5 had become experienced dieters by the age of 9. 

      But Professor Leann Birch, who led the research published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association, says that youngsters who tried hardest to shed surplus pounds often ended up gaining more fat as their misguided attempts to diet backfired. What most intrigued Birch and her colleagues was how girls so young had developed a poor body image: they suspect that parental influence, subconscious or otherwise, is the main trigger in most cases. In families where “access to palatable foods was restricted” or where mothers were seen to diet, children were more likely to diet themselves. 

      “Rigorous control of food intake can cause 5-year-olds to lose the ability to regulate their own eating patterns,” says Birch. As a result, these children grow up misunderstanding the natural cues for hunger. 

      Paradoxically, when well-meaning mothers forbade foods such as crisps and sweets, their daughters were more likely to overeat behind their backs. Similarly, mothers who followed restrictive diets had daughters who, “in the absence of hunger, ate more forbidden snack foods whenever they were available”, Birch says. Attempts to control the girls’ food habits “were more likely to promote disregulated eating” in the long term. 

      During the four-year study, the girls had their weight and eating habits checked when they were 5, 7 and 9; when the research started, 32 of the subjects were considered at risk of being overweight according to government standards. In order to determine how seriously they were dieting, each child was asked questions such as “Do you try to eat only a little bit on purpose so that you won’t get fat?” 

      Researchers also looked at how the girls reacted when left in a room with toys and snacks and told to “eat or play” when they were left alone. 

      By the age of 7, the heavier girls had tried dieting and were already bingeing on food significantly more often than those who were not at risk of weight gain. 

      Birch says that the findings support the theory previously established in adults that people who try to get thinner by cutting their calorie intake too severely eventually become bingers. At 9, the unhappier girls were with their weight, the more they tried to diet -and the more likely they were to put fat on instead of take it off. 

      Amanda Wynne, a spokeswoman for the British Dietetic Association (BDA), says that studies such as this one prove that parents can influence disordered eating habits much earlier than they realise. “At 3, children are still programmed to eat in response to appetite,” Wynne says, “but by 5 they are influenced by social and cultural issues surrounding food.” 

      A recent survey of 4,000 men and women conducted by the BDA also showed that repeated attempts to diet often end in failure. A third of the adult slimmers questioned admitted that they ended up a stone (6kg) heavier than their original weight only weeks after dieting. 

      Now that obesity affects one 6-year-old in ten in the UK, Wynne believes that parents should avoid introducing their children to quick-fix diet solutions. 

      “They don’t work and usually result in yo-yo diets and binge-eating,” she says. 

      • I’ll have to go find out some of my old artices/papers/books from my degree, I think they’re hiden in a box somewhere lol, but I’m sure I can find a referance or two 🙂

        I do totally agree that dieting doesn’t work though. a person either ends up giving into cravings resulting in tem putting on weight or (as my mum did) go over the top and end up dangerously underweight… neither of which are good outcomes

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