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Raising a disordered generation

(AP Photo/Barry Gutierrez)

On Wednesday, I noted how I have some personal reservations about First Lady Michelle Obama and her campaign to bring childhood obesity to the forefront of awareness in America.  Today, the published concerns of one teacher echo some of my own.

First let me say that I'm all for getting our kids healthier and more active, but using a public bully pulpit to scold chubby kids and irresponsible parents is not the solution.  In doing so, you only shame children for something they have zero control over and create a culture among parents where having "skinny" children demonstrates "good" parenting.

Think about this as you read these observations of a pre-school teacher:

We had parents try to put their kids on diets because they're "too fat." There's definitely a really competitive aspect to parenting right now that I never felt growing up. It's almost like your child has become an accessory to your perfect life — you have to have a perfect baby.

Childhood obesity is a huge thing, but at the same time it's up to you to set an example. And that's why in childcare, now we sit down and we eat family style. I eat whatever the kids are eating for lunch. We serve as the models and that's what the parents need to do. If you're taking your kid out for ice cream, of course your kid's gonna want ice cream.

Parents try to put them on, like, skim milk instead of two percent milk, or they'll try to put them on two bottles of day instead of four. Or they'll say I don't want my child to have thirds on something, they can only have seconds. If the kid wants thirds on broccoli, I'm going to let the kid have thirds on broccoli. We're not supposed to limit the kids' choices. If your kid wants to eat nothing but pears, my bosses want them to have nothing but pears. Legally we can't force a child to eat anything. So when people come to us and say they want us to limit their food, we explain to them that two-year-olds don't have a concept of eating for pleasure. If they're eating it's because they're hungry.

I don't think we have any kids where I work that look unhealthy. They're all fine. You're concerned your kid is pudgy? That's how we're supposed to be at two years old.

Placing such ridiculous standards on kids so young won't cut back on the number of obese kids in America, but it will certainly increase the number of young people suffering with eating disorders.

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