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Friday, February 18, 2011

Not sure what I think about this...

Weight issues and my family are not strangers.  My mom has been overweight as long as I can remember.  My maternal grandparents were overweight.  All my maternal aunts and uncles are overweight.  In most cases we were normal weight children and young adults.  The weights issues came with pregnancy or middle age. 

Not so with the current generation of children.  Two of my sisters kids are obese and my oldest daughter is...not thin.  My little sister is 16 and she's been overweight for the last couple of years.  Not huge, but not real thin.  Probably 20 lbs. overweight.

My oldest sister (age 40) put her daughter in Weight Watchers a few weeks ago.  My niece is 10.  They had to get special permission from her pediatrician for her to join.  I don't know what to say about that.

Part of me feels that she is too young.  I think diets are one of the main factors that contribute to obesity.  Every person that I've ever interacted with that has a weight problem as an adult, has a history of dieting.  The other main factor is that we tends to eat for reasons other than hunger.  Diets don't teach us to eat when we're hungry and stop when we're full.  They teach us to eat what and when the diet says to eat.  Diets further alienate us from our sense of hunger and satiety. 

But the other part of me feels that Weight Watchers could be a valuable teaching tool.  After all, it is important that adults and children learn about serving sizes and nutrition.  I also think that as far as diet plans go, Weight Watchers is a very good plan.  It seems to be based on the idea of all foods in moderation which I believe is the best way to go. 

But I see this girl doing things that worry me.  This morning, for example, we stopped by a book  store and she bought a new book.  As she checked out she added a candy bar to her order and said, "It's for my friend.".  Already at the age of 10, she is embarrassed to be eating unhealthy foods and engaging in sneaky behavior to get her food. 

I can relate.

Can't kids just be kids?  I don't want my daughter, turning 10 on 2/28, to have to feel ashamed of eating food.  I work hard to teach her about nutrition and serving sizes.  She is overweight, but so was I when I was her age and I grew out of it (at least for 20 years).  Maybe my head is just buried in the sand. 

Sometimes I feel guilty for passing on my "bad" genes.  I hate the idea of my daughter living with the pain that I did.  Agh!!!        

13 comments:

Rachel said...

I'm a girl who grew up in the 70s. If you can believe it my pediatrician put me on amphetamine based diet pills!! The medication and diet soda made me feel really sick. I wasn't sure what would happen...would I lose weight magically if I took the pills and drank the diet drinks? I was only about 10 lbs overweight...I think increasing my exercise with sports would have helped too. I don't think I needed meds.

I really wish I received some healthy diet education, as extended by Weight Watchers when I was a kid. I think that is a healthy way to go because it educates people on nutrition versus food denial/restriction.

Drazil said...

Oh God - this post was heart wrenching...I feel so sad when I see little girls sad about their weight instead of just being a kid. Wow - on the WW at 10. We just started it at work and a bunch of people can't understand it or figure it out. How does a 10 year old do it?

FritoBandito said...

I was on Weight Watchers indirectly by age 8 and then actually going to meetings by age 10...and look at me now. It is, however, probably the healthiest program for someone her age to be on because it does teach you to make healthier choices.

The thing that kills me now though is that when I look at my pictures of me as a child, yes, I was overweight...but probably not HALF as overweight as some of the children I see now, and not near enough to have been tortured the way I was by other kids. It kinda makes me mad...and I think it set me up for YEARS of eating issues.

Bonnie said...

10 is too young in my opinion. Way too young. My mom took me to my first WW meeting when I was 12 and I've been on the diet train ever since. I wish instead she had signed me up for a gym and we had worked out together because dieting and weighing in every week is not the way to go.

Maggie said...

Personally I loooove Weight Watchers for the exact reason that I CAN eat whatever I want - in moderation. Having said that, I think 10 is a bit young. Like one of the other people said, it's hard for many adults to understand the ins and outs of it all. Portion sizes, points, etc etc. I think 10 is a bit young. What probably would have been better is just some very strict control over what she is allowed to eat. I wish her luck though.

Jenny said...

I think WW is the healthiest of all the options. It shows you that you can have the candy bar when you budget it into your day. To me WW is more of a nutrition class too. At ten, she is young and may not fully understand everything I agree there. But I think it would be appropriate for someone (you or her mom) to remind her that any food is ok in moderation. But moderation doesn't always mean once a day. Some foods' moderation is once a week/month. I think when we start to get controlling over food, kids rebel and eat in secret.

~Lisa~ said...

10 is a bit young - it is sad that a 10 year old just can't be a 10 year old.. But you're right, the diet train starts when we're young and because of that we have food and image issues for the rest of our lives...

A great thought provoking post...

MLM said...

This is a tough situation..having been overweight for as long as I can remember (since 1st grade), I'm not sure how I feel. Looking back, most of the diets weren't successful for me bc as you point out, it is more than just the food...for me it was emotional eating. I had successful spurts of losing up to 30ish pounds but eventually gained it back. That said, I never felt like I wasn't able to be a kid because I didn't let the weight stop me (though it did bother me)...I'm all over the place on this, but thinking back, had I been able to find a program/lose weight in a healthy way earlier and kept it off, I would have because I could have avoided things that were tougher later on associated with being overweight. I think the key is how your sister approaches it, makes it about healthy and nutritious living and loving oneself through any size.

Momto4redheads said...

My first daughter inherited her father's jeans...not only is she tall and super skinny, but she also has the innate stop button that I seemed to have been born without. She is really picky about what sweets she eats. I was very afraid when I had another baby, a girl, that this daughter would take after me...so far she's only 15 months, so it's hard to tell, but she is a BIG girl! I worry because I was the fat one and my sister was the super skinny one...and that is so hard between sisters. I don't want that for my daughters.

I agree with the comments that say your niece and other children with weight issues should be put into more sports and not worry so much about the food. As long as they are still children, the parents should have a lot of control over what they eat, and they have youth on their side and the fact that they're still growing...if they become more active I think the food part will start to take care of itself too.

Sarah said...

Hi Amanda - I definitely think teaching kids about nutrition and healthy eating is great at any age. We talk to our son about it every day, as we don't want him to be an obese adult, but we don't focus on him losing weight. If that's what she can take away from WW, that's great. I think WW teaches some great habits, but I don't think the focus should be on "losing" weight at her age. Getting healthy and learning life long habits is key.

I know you have a large following, so maybe you can help Ashlylin by directing people to her blog. She's asking for help and could use some support from successful bandsters like yourself.
http://ashlylin-lookingahead.blogspot.com/

Have a great day!

Blossom said...

I think at that age it's more about encouraging activity and maybe just making some healthier choices rather than blatantly making kids aware they have a weight problem. I never did until I was in my 20s, but I can only imagine the harm it would have done to my psyche. I think family activity is a great place to start!

Bones said...

Of all of the choices out there, I think Weight Watchers is probably the best one. Points and other weird things aside, it is a program based on good solid nutrition, and they do teach about things like exercise and emotional eating etc.

At 10 years old..... I would love for my daughters to have the opportunity to just be kids. But this is the thing......NOW is the time to build good healthy habits.

As a child and as a teen, I ate whatever I wanted, when I wanted, and in the quantity I wanted. I was always too thin and thought it didnt matter anyway. But guess what.... look at me now. It matters. And with a huge family history of diabetes, it mattered a lot and Ijust had no idea.

This actually helps when it comes to my girls because when I *try* to teach my kids about eating, I can make it more about our health than being thin.

That said.... I do agree with the others..... keeping these kids moving is the key.

Joia said...

My mom had me in Weight Watchers as a freshman in high school...I remember walking to the meetings in the shopping plaza near my school after the day was over. I felt so uncomfortable there, being among adults with adult problems. I didn't learn much except to follow orders (like you said), and they made me feel like an outcast when I was carrying my fundraising chocolate bars to one meeting (I was coming from school - I didn't drive - where was I supposed to keep them?!). All in all, I realized that attending group meetings in a world full of adults wasn't right for a 13 year old. Sure, I lost some weight...and then had LapBand surgery at 29 years old. Go figure.