Rose DesRochers – World Outside my Window

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Rose DesRochers – World Outside my Window

Children and Prejudice- Obesity

April 7th, 2009 by Rose DesRochers · 7 Comments

I read a blog post earlier today that got me thinking about discrimination.
Sadly there is a prejudice in society against people who are overweight.

I’m certainly not a fan of the “Eat that and you’ll get fat” theory of parenting.

Should we really be teaching a three year old that if they eat too many chocolate chip cookies that they will get fat. Using fear to get children to eat healthy isn’t the answer in my opinion.

There is already enough poor body image portrayed in media without teaching our children that they don’t want to be “fat.”

Self awareness regarding the way we look begins early in age that it is why it is so important to teach our children how to have a positive self-image. What we teach our children today reflects on who they will be tomorrow.

The self obsession of beauty is changing society. We now have five-year-olds having spa days and pedicure parties, we really don’t need a five year old anorexic. The story of “Dana The 8-Year-Old Anorexic” that I watched on “Strawberry Anarchy” just breaks my heart.

There is nothing wrong with being concerned about what your children are eating, but using fear to get children to eat right is just wrong on so many levels.

What happens when your child looks at an obese person and assumes that they are overweight because they ate too many cookies.

This kind of thinking is why we have prejudice against obesity in our society.

Some people may strongly feel that they’re not teaching their children to be prejudiced against others, when in fact they are.

A study published on the International Journal of Obesity reported “Children ascribed more negative characteristics than positive ones to fat figures than to normal figures.” Be sure to review the full report. The finding were very interesting.

In order to avoid teaching your children to be prejudice, first you need to understand your own prejudices about people.

What is your honest opinion of obese people? When you see an obese person do you assume that they are overweight because of their eating habits? Are you guilty of assuming that obese people are simply lazy? Do you fear being overweight yourself?

Teach Your Children Healthy Eating Habits

Your child will learn more from your own approach to healthy eating then by telling them if they eat too much junk food they will become fat.

Offer your children a variety of healthy snacks to choose from.

There’s an excellent article in the New York Times written by Abby Ellen that you should read. “What’s Eating Our Kids? Fears About ‘Bad’ Foods.

Don’t teach your children to fear food. Teach them how to be healthy and love themselves.

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Rose wears many hats. She's a wife, mother, respite worker, proud shih-tzu owner, blogger, published poet, freelance writer, as well as the owner and administrator of Today's Writing Community and Blogger Talk Blogging Community. Feel free to contact her with any questions you may have.Rose DesRochers has 1019 post(s) at Rose DesRochers – World Outside My Window

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7 responses so far ↓

  • Greg
    Wrote: Apr 7, 2009 at 4:00 pm

    I follow you on Twitter, read your mention and thought I’d come by and take a look. My educational background is primarily in Marketing and Cognitive/Social Psychology, so I read your article (and the article from the IJoO) with great interest.

    When I get home, I’m going to log into my University’s library to see what I can find about childhood attitudes towards obesity. I suspect that one of the major Developmental Psych journals would have published something on the subject. Sadly, the study you linked to only used 25 children, so the results are not strong enough to generalize (or even theorize).

    And now enough of trying to make myself sound smart and onto my point….;-)

    If we take the results of that study as being scientifically sound, we are moving into some incredibly dangerous, scary places. Our society is growing more and more obese, yet we are conditioning children to loathe obesity. This conditioning takes place at a very young age. Could this simply be a case in which survival instincts create prejudice through the subconscious mind? Or are our primary modes of socialization creating children who are (statistically speaking) going to loathe themselves one day?


    Rose DesRochers Reply:

    Do you not think that parents play a significant role in developing their children’s attitude towards obesity. Children as young as six are being diagnosed with eating disorders. How do you explain this Greg?

  • Greg
    Wrote: Apr 7, 2009 at 6:01 pm

    Sorry, I should have made my last question more clear. I consider parents to be a ‘primary mode of socialization’ (in most cases, parents are stronger socializers than television, music and media combined). Case in point, my niece is a beautiful young woman who is convinced that she is ‘fat’ – interestingly enough, she mirrors her mother’s exact words and even body language when she describes her body. Tragic, isn’t it?? It is even more tragic when you follow it through to its logical conclusion – her poor body image will quite possibly result in the same eating disorders that nearly killed her mother….

    Absolutely tragic, isn’t it?

    As for children as young as 6 being diagnosed with eating disorders, I have to tell you that I am always concerned when children receive a diagnosis normally reserved for adults. Kids as young as 6 are being diagnosed with depressive disorders and getting prescriptions for anti-depressants. Kids as young as 6 (who don’t exercise, who loathe drinking water and whose parents give them energy drinks to take to school) are being diagnosed with ADHD and getting prescriptions for Ritalin (worst drug ever).

    Children are (amongst many other things) perfect mirrors. When a little one is diagnosed with an eating disorder, I question whether it is in fact, a pathology, or a manifestation of his/her parents’ eating disorder(s). The tragic thing is that the next logical argument is to make removing these children from their homes a part of the treatment. Should children really be condemned to the Foster Care lottery (if you lose, you get to go to a Foster House of Horror) because their parent(s) are sick??? But can they be treated as long as they remain in that sort of environment??

    Now please don’t get me started on ADHD or childhood depressive episodes…;-)


    Rose DesRochers Reply:

    Greg, you said “I have to tell you that I am always concerned when children receive a diagnosis normally reserved for adults.”

    Anorexia and bulimia are unfortunately common eating disorders among teenagers. They are not reserved for adults, and the way society is today it is not surprising that children are young as 6 would be diagnosed with an eating disorder.

  • Roger Green
    Wrote: Apr 7, 2009 at 8:35 pm

    well, I ajm overweight. and worse since a series of unfortunate events that included btreaking my rib and having my bike stolen.

    that said, I just get BORED with the culture obsession about weight; not upset, just “can we move on?”

  • Greg H.
    Wrote: Apr 7, 2009 at 9:40 pm

    Good call – you’re right, I dropped the ball and made a poor choice of words. ‘Adult’ was clearly the wrong word to use in this situation – perhaps I should have said “adolescent – adult’?? Eating disorders are a massive problem amongst high schools. One paper I just read (The Kids’ Eating Disorders Survey: A Study of Middle School Students) surveyed over 3,000 kids from grades 5 to 8. Over 40% were concerned about their weight and a high number resorted to tactics like ‘fasting’ and purging to lose weight. Ugly, hey?

    The problem that I’m running into is that the really smart people can’t agree what to call eating disorders in children or how to measure it. From what I’ve read, adult tests seem to focus on behaviour and less on intent – I just read an article on something called the Cheat – a child friendly version of the Eating Attitude Test. It studied 3, 500 kids between the ages of 8 and 13. They showed that roughly the same percentage of kids scored ‘anorexic’ within the cheat as adults did within the eat! Even uglier, hey?

    I’m going to keep reading and I’ll update this page with any articles I find particularly interesting. I hope that you can find some of these articles online – I’m lucky enough to be able to access them through my University’s library….

    Once again, that was a really great article! Thanks for writing it!!!!

  • Erin
    Wrote: Apr 8, 2009 at 1:15 am

    Very well written, Rose.

    Something my husband and I got our girls into was bellydancing. We have weekly ‘girl’s night out’ dates to a bellydancing class that teaches the beauty of every shape body. I teach a beginning class and have noticed young women (mainly young. My average class age is about 15-25) becoming more and more aware of their bodies and how beautiful they are no matter how they look. I had one girl who never looked up, never flirted ever. She took one full session with my dancing partner and me and now she’s flirting on stage and dancing beautifully. I really hope my daughters see that despite the fact that I go through phases where I hate the way my body is shaped, I still love it even though I’m ‘heavy’ and they learn the same thing.