“She’ll Grow Out of It” and Other Unfortunate Myths about Overweight Kids
By Daniel S. Kirschenbaum, Ph.D., ABPP
“You said your daughter is 10 years old, 4’11”, and weighs 203 pounds, right?”
“Yes, but her pediatrician says she’ll grow out of it.”
This exchange actually happened twenty-five years ago, and while it might be an extreme example, something like it continues to happen every day in the USA. That ten year old girl was certainly among the most overweight ten year olds in the country at that time. Today, we have about three times as many overweight and obese young people compared to 25 years ago. Yet, parents still hear that kind of message from some health care providers, grandparents, aunts and uncles, and friends and neighbors. Parents with overweight children and teens are told:
- Overweight kids will grow out of it
- Focusing too much on weight causes eating disorders
- If you deprive your child of certain foods, he’ll want it ten time more
- You’ll ruin her self-esteem if you focus on her weight
The result of these messages undoubtedly contributed to a rather startling finding obtained in a 2007 national poll conducted by researchers at the University of Michigan. These researchers found that more than 40% of parents of obese children described their children as “about the right weight” and less than 10% of these parents said that they were “very concerned” about their child’s weight.
Festive Follies – Alcohol and Holiday Parties
Ahhh, holiday season. It’s supposed to be a happy, jolly time of year, but for many young people it is a time of stress and depression. It’s no wonder. Teens are
cramming for finals and finishing up end-of-year projects (or feeling ashamed because they’ve done poorly this semester). There are fewer organized sports activities this
time of year, and the weather in many parts of the country conspires to keep them indoors and isolated from friends.
Parents are extra-busy with office holiday gatherings and shopping added to their normally hectic schedules while worrying about how to pay for it all makes for short
tempers. Perhaps this is why alcohol figures so prominently at holiday parties. What better way to lift the spirits than a nice hot toddy? What says festive more than a
cup of eggnog spiked with spirits?
For parents, it’s important to realize what message is being sent when alcohol becomes the focus of the festivities. Too often, adults take a, “do as I say, not as I
do,” approach when it comes to alcohol. After all, it IS legal for grown-ups to drink.
That’s true. But parents must remember that our children are watching, learning, and filing this information away for their future. Sadly, many don’t just file the
information – they choose to start emulating the grown-ups long before they are ready to deal with the consequences of indulging.
Have a Great Winter Break
So your college student is coming home for the holidays. The semester is over, finals are finished and there’s enough dirty laundry to keep you busy for a week. You
have planned family get-togethers, scheduled shopping excursions and are expecting to spend some quality time with your child.
Your fledgling grown-up has flown the nest and won’t come back quite the same as when they left. They have been on their own for some time now and expect to
have some control over their schedule so their priority list may not exactly be in sync with yours.