Too Few Kids Judged with Obesity? Not Really

On what planet is this a problem? Yet again, we have people promoting that too few children are being judged with having obesity. In a review and meta-analysis for ECO 2019, Abrar Alshahrani describes the problem:

Parents commonly describe their children in terms other than obese, such as big boned, thick, and solid. They demonstrated a strong desire to avoid labelling their child with medical terminology.

However, the truth is that the parents are right. Labeling kids as “obese” is not helpful. In fact, it only makes things worse. Because labeling a child with a problem, without offering a solution, helps no one.

Research on Outcomes

And in fact, a number of studies suggest that not thinking of oneself as overweight may lead to better health outcomes. It’s associated with a lower risk of depression, healthier blood pressure, and less risk of weight gain over time in both adults and adolescents.

So no, there’s simply no evidence that “labelling a child with medical terminology for obesity” will help them. Rather, it’s likely to hurt them. Stigma for kids with obesity starts early and hits hard.

Instead of putting any energy into labeling more kids, we need more resources for actually helping kids and families who are dealing with obesity – especially severe obesity.

Click here for the abstract and here for the press release. For more about this recurring fear of body positivity, click here.

Playing, photograph © Obesity Action Coalition / OAC Image Gallery

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April 28, 2019