Candy For Some, A Reprimand For Others?
|November 1, 2013||Posted by The Fit Scoop under Uncategorized|
By now you may have heard of the woman who planed to give out “fat letters” rather than candy to obese trick-or-treaters. Her controversial letter, addressed to the child’s parents, said, “You [sic] child is, in my opinion, moderately obese and should not be consuming sugar and treats to the extent of some children this Halloween season. My hope is that you will step up as a parent and ration candy this Halloween and not allow your child to continue these unhealthy eating habits.”
The concept for sending a note home to parents about a kid’s weight is not new. In fact, the American Academy of Pediatrics has recently recommended that schools send BMI information home to parents of overweight and obese children. In some countries, BMI information is even included right on the student’s report card. So are these “fat notification letters” actually a good idea?
I personally think it’s inappropriate for anyone to hand out “fat letters” to trick-or-treaters based on their perception of the child’s weight. Since kids often trick-or-treat in groups, this amounts to public shaming. While the woman from the news story may be trying to make an honest attempt to reduce childhood obesity, there are better ways to go about it without singling kids out. I think it would have been better for her to give out candy alternatives like dried fruit or to not participate in Halloween at all. I imagine it could be very emotionally damaging to kids to be told by a stranger that they are obese and therefore don’t get any candy, especially in front of their friends.
I’m kind of bothered with schools sending home letters as well. Are parents of overweight and obese kids so unaware of their kid’s weight status that they need a letter to tell them? I suppose the letter could serve more as a motivator for action rather than as a notification. However, how effective are these letters at bringing about changes? Again, I’m very bothered by the “singling out” aspect of these letters. I think it would be a better idea for schools to provide ALL families with information and support on how to help kids maintain a healthy weight rather than just identifying the overweight and obese kids. I’d also rather see schools put more effort into changing their own structure and policies rather than just putting the onus on parents via a letter. I think schools are a factor in contributing to childhood obesity with the reduction in recess and gym time and the historically poor nutritional content of school lunches (though significant changes are finally being made in the lunchroom). Yes changes need to happen at home, but kids spend a majority of their day at school so schools are in a unique position to really effect change in the childhood obesity epidemic. The old saying that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure is certainly applicable here, and I think schools should aim more at prevention rather than sending home weight reports.