Risks of the child obesity obsession

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Risks of the child obesity obsession

I think the obsession our country has, from top to bottom, has with preventing childhood obesity makes childhood obesity worse and creates eating disorders of all kinds. What are my specific problems with that and how do I advise parents to deal with that? Usually parents are going to come face-to-face with this, frankly, is in school. Many school districts are now doing what is called BMI report cards, Body Mass Index. The child's height and weight are measured at school, often in a relatively public gym, everyone lining up and getting their height and weight tested. The information may not even be given to the child privately. The school nurse writes it down, takes it to a Body Mass Index Chart, and sends home a report card that says, "According to our BMI, your child's weight is okay," or "too low," or "too high." Is there any good in doing this? I would argue, no. One, children are comparing BMI's. "What's yours?" "This is mine." Parents don't know what to do about it. It doesn't take into account genetic information. Maybe you are from a skinny family. Maybe you are a big, bulky family and if you lost a pound, you'd be underweight. This is not something schools should be involved in. This is private. It is private information. If you are concerned about your child's weight, go and talk to your child's doctor. Actually, I would advise that parents do that privately, not in front of your child. If you are worried about your child's weight, talk to your child's doctor, privately, and express your concern that you don't want to cause an eating disorder, and you don't know what to do about it. If it's not going well at home, my mantra is, get some professional help.

Watch Marcia Herrin, EdD, MPH, RD, LD's video on Risks of the child obesity obsession...


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Marcia Herrin, EdD, MPH, RD, LD


Marcia Herrin, EdD, MPH, RD, is the founder of Dartmouth College’s nationally renowned nutrition programs. Currently, Dr. Herrin conducts a private practice in Lebanon, New Hampshire. Marcia received her doctorate in nutrition education from Columbia University. At the University of California-Berkeley, she received her master’s degree and completed a dietetic internship. More recently, Marcia has completed two trainings with James Lock and Daniel le Grange in Family-Based Treatment (Maudsley). She also is certified in Childhood, Adolescent, and Adult Weight Management. Besides a fulltime counseling practice, Marcia has written three books and is working on her fourth. The Parent’s Guide to Eating Disorders tells parents everything they need to know about eating disorders. Nutrition Counseling in the Treatment of Eating Disorders tells professionals everything they need to know about working with food in eating disorders. Marcia has been featured in People magazine and on Today and 48 Hours. Marcia credits much of her success with patients with eating disorders and obesity to her own struggles with and recovery from these conditions. Her childhood, as the oldest of six children growing up on a Montana ranch, is another significant influence.

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