I came across this article on MSN a few days ago: http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/lifestyle/2012/03/moms-diet-for-7-year-old-d… (the original article in Vogue is not accessible online without a subscription)
I’m curious to see your reactions to this story. I was appalled by some of the methods this mother used, but it’s also bringing a renewed focus to the Childhood Obesity Epidemic. Have any of you experienced clients or friends that project their own issues onto their children? Do you have any suggestions in dealing with situations such as these? How could the new ACE Integrated Fitness Model be applied to the psychological/behavioral science aspect that this article addresses?
This breaks my heart. I have a daughter, and I have seen, through her friends the full spectrum of body types.
I think always the best place to start is with the parent, working on their own issues with food and weight, and learning how important it is to be an exceptional role model- Our children watch us to see what to do, they don’t listen, they watch. We have to realize that bodies come in all shapes and sizes, and that weight (or lack of) does not equal worth.
That said, parents need to get kids moving, have them play outside, use those large muscle groups, play sports. We have to remember that as we move our bodies, our brains also benefit immensely.
Helping kids make good, healthy food choices is of course pivotal. Setting any young girl up to have an unhealthy relationship with her body, with food or exercise is setting her up for a lifetime of struggle. Girls get bombarded enough from outside sources; the home should be a safe haven to learn good habits, and to learn that we are good and enough, just as we are.
Hi Sara. All of this points to the need for seeking competent, professional help with pervasive health issues such as these. I serve on a County subcommittee on Childhood Obesity.
I too have had situations where a parent’s view on diet, food and health seriously impacted the parent’s daughters. It’s a very touchy situation, and we as trainers can only do so much (cajole, advise, provide information, make suggestions, refer etc). I don’t know enough about the particular situation that you cite to in the article link, but it’s sad when someone who may “mean well” takes actions that can negatively impact a young person not only now but in the future.
Its funny because I encountered such a situation a year or so back. The mom first approached me saying that her daughter was too overweight and she wanted me to put her on a program to lose the weight. In conversations with the mom before we even began training, I too began to wonder who was the one who wanted training and why? How did the daughter feel about herself, her weight (the daughter was 16 at the time)? The mom was extremely thin, active and had her own food issues from the past.
So before we started, I spoke to both the mom and daughter together and then the daughter alone. The daughter didn’t feel she had an issue. She liked the way she looked. Together we told her mom that she didn’t feel she needed training right now and gave the reasons why. She wasn’t participating in any sports at the time and was not very active, so she agreed to become more active if her mom would leave her alone about training. The mom agreed.
I kept in touch with both of them. There were more issues going on than just body image. It was a tough conversation to have, but the mom and daughter comunicate a bit better now and the daughter knows that she has someone in her corner if she needs any advice or help.
Sometimes support and education is more important than “doing something”. Obesity and what to do about it is such a sensitive issue as body image and self-esteem have so much to do with it. But we have to do something for our children.
Personally, I believe it boils down to education.
There are some communities that as a consequence of lack of education and resources make it difficult for many who live in those communities to make sound health decisions because of a variety of circumstances (poverty, lack of quality supermarkets, fast food restaurants on practically every corner etc.). However, it is clear in this article that the mother and daughter are not of the above-mentioned demographic.
From my perspective, what went wrong between the mother and daughter is that the mother was never taught how to make healthy food choices nor the importance of engaging in physical activity.
I was surprised that the reward that the little girl received in the end was more clothing. I would have thought that a person of means would have the education to introduce activities like bike riding, dancing, skiing, swimming, horseback riding, skating at a very young age.
Being a mom, I was under the impression that you don’t have to tell children to play. It is something that they want to do naturally. Mom got some real issues here.
However, to address your question regarding approaching things utilizing the ACE IFT approach, I would question, whether it fits when the focus of the mother and not the daughter is not fitness. Let us not forget that it is called the Integrated FITNESS training.
For me it appears that the mom has an unhealthy relationship with food and she needs to learn first about nutrition and healthy eating so that she can educate her family and be in a position to lead by example.
thanks for bringing this subject up for discussion. It shows how complex the issue is and how little, as a society, we know how to handle the issue on obesity as a whole.
The latest IDEA Journal has a story on ‘Compassion for Curves’, we have declared the ‘Fight on Childhood Obesity’, and parents are almost accused of child abuse when their children are obese. Models are still paper-thin and air-brushed. The food industry is targeting children with their advertising. (It appears that the profits of the food industry trump all other concerns – this is my private opinion.)
It’s a jungle out there!
The situation of the mother and her daughter illustrates how helpless we all are in an enviroment where people are bombarded by conflicting messages. The mother tried to do the right thing for her child, and she did it in the only way she knew. She is the result of years of indoctrination that you can never be too thin, and that your value as a person has a direct relationship to the number on your scales. Of course she passes her values on to her daughter even if she does not want to. Actions speak louder than words. I have seen it in my clients and their interaction with their children.
Yet, in all of that, we know that being overweight has been linked to a myriad of health issues. I do not have children myself; I feel sorry for parents who have to navigate this mine field.
What would I give to have the answer! It appears that greater minds than mine are working on it.
I am curious to read what my colleagues have to say on that issue.