When I was younger I struggled with eating disorders. Now as a mom, the new obesity guidelines for kids terrify me.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recently released guidelines for treating children with obesity.
The treatments include therapy, weight-loss drugs, and in some cases, bariatric surgery.
I struggled with eating disorders as a kid; I even attended Weight Watchers in middle school.
In January, the American Academy of Pediatrics announced comprehensive guidelines on evaluating and treating kids and adolescents with obesity. The organization has recommended intensive interventions, therapy, weight-loss drugs, and, in some cases, bariatric surgery for children.
I saw this news and felt my stomach seize with dread.
I didn't get an official eating-disorder diagnosis until college, but I grew up with a deeply troubled relationship with food and my body. I wasn't obese, but I was the tallest girl in my class and the first to need a bra. I didn't know the term "diet culture" then, but I understood its message implicitly and completely: Thinner bodies were better and more worthy. My body was too big, too much. My job as a person — especially as a young woman — was to shrink myself.
I developed an eating disorder
I remember doing middle-school homework in the back of a Weight Watchers meeting, the women lining up to see the scale's verdict, my mom among them.
As a freshman in college in New York City, I read diet books along with my Virgil and Homer. I kept track of my increasingly paltry points/calories along with my notes on "The Odyssey." I remember the shock of my anorexia diagnosis — wasn't I doing the thing that had got me so much praise? Wasn't I doing exactly what I was supposed to be doing? Wouldn't the Weight Watchers ladies be proud?
What followed was about six more years of restricting, bingeing, overexercising, worrying, weight cycling, obsessing — I was in a constant war with my body that I could never win.
I'm still working on recovery
In my mid-20s, after an epic, painful binge, I found myself at a 12-step meeting that would change my life profoundly. Ten years later, I still work on recovery every day. Unlearning dangerous messages about food and bodies — my body — has been a journey. I'm still on it, and probably will be for my lifetime.
Even before I became a mom, I knew I wanted to do things differently with my own kids. I wanted to teach them to respect and nurture their bodies no matter what they looked like, and that how they felt on the inside was more important than what others thought about their outsides.
I'm a mom of 2 now
In 2020, I had a daughter. She's still young enough to want what her body wants without baggage. These days that's mostly cheese, vanilla frosting from the top of cupcakes, oranges, chorizo, and more cheese. I also have a baby boy, who happily eats everything for the time being.
Bodies have indeed gotten bigger over the past several decades, but the public-health movement to shrink them has failed. We know BMI is an unreliable barometer of health and that the relationship between weight and health is incredibly complicated. Racism, poverty, and social inequities impact our weight, as do our genes. We also know that anti-fat bias has a huge influence on health and well-being.
No kid should hear — explicitly or more subtly — that their body is wrong.
We need to fix the idea that weight is a barometer of health or worthiness. It's not. We need to work for food justice, ensuring universal access to nutritious, affordable, and culturally appropriate food for all, rather than further stigmatizing individuals.
Our world shames fat bodies. We need to change that narrative, not our bodies, and not our kids' bodies.
Occasionally an ad for Noom or WW — the rebranded Weight Watchers — will pop up while I'm watching "Peppa Pig" with my little ones. Until they're big enough to ask why, I'll just keep skipping the ads and taking deep breaths.
I'll keep working on my own recovery and trying to build a safe foundation at home and in a world that has a long, long way to go.
Read the original article on Insider