Fool’s Errand: Arguing about Weight

Arguing about weight is a fool’s errand. But the impulse to tell someone else how much they should weigh lies under the surface of a new analysis published by CDC. Neda Sarafrazi and colleagues from the National Center for Health Statistics found that nearly 48% of boys and 36% of girls with obesity between the ages of 8-15 “consider themselves to be about the right weight.” The authors conclude, saying:

Accurate self-perception of weight status has been linked to appropriate weight control behaviors in youth. Understanding the prevalence of weight status misperception among U.S. children and adolescents may help inform public health interventions.

Even when well-intended people put their energy into an unproductive conversation about how much somebody ought to weigh, they stir up problems. Kids already get plenty of messages about how fat or otherwise non-conforming their bodies are. They don’t need to be persuaded that there’s something wrong with the size and shape of their bodies.

The energy needs to go into helping kids — and adults for that matter — care for their bodies and be their healthiest selves. Director Marlene Schwartz of the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity says:

Shame is a terrible motivator. If children have obesity, or are having weight-related medical problems, it’s better to encourage them to get healthier by cutting out snacking in front of the television or cutting out sugary drinks than to tell them they need to lose 20 pounds to be considered “just right.”

Amen. Health is what matters.

Click here to read more from USA Today and here to read the analysis from CDC.

The Fool, image © n0cturbulous / flickr

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2 Responses to “Fool’s Errand: Arguing about Weight”

  1. July 24, 2014 at 5:16 pm, Amy Endrizal said:

    In no uncertain terms, Slate’s “Dear Prudence” joins you in the “Amen” corner. Amen to you both.

    • July 25, 2014 at 6:56 am, Ted said:

      Thanks for finding this link, Amy!