Fat and Not Afraid

Respect and love are for EVERY body.

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Body Image Advice from BabyCenter

August 12, 2011

About once a week, maybe less often, I get an email from Babycenter.com that lets me know whereabouts Gabe should be when it comes to socialization and other things. Today's main entry focused on body image. Honestly, my first reaction was "Oh boy, this should be good." And it was pretty good until about 3/4 of the way through. Then there was this: If you're worried about your child's weight, ask your doctor where she falls on the growth charts compared with her peers and in relation to her own past growth pattern. Look at her BMI, or body mass index, a number that reflects the relationship between weight and height. It's an indicator of chubbiness, skinniness, or "just right." It's available now in most doctor's offices and is the number that's most indicative of health and good growth.

If your child tends toward the chubby end of the spectrum, rather than harping about what she's doing wrong (eating junk food, acting like a couch potato), set up an environment that helps her live right. Limit computer and TV time. If she has a TV in her room, getting it out of there is a good start. Plan active outings as a family. Exercise helps kids appreciate their bodies for how they work rather than how they look. Put healthy meals on the table and stock your pantry with nutritious snacks. Nix sodas as an option."

Really? What about if your child falls towards the skinnier end of the spectrum, like my son does? Am I supposed to start fattening him up with junk food and put a tv in his room? Plan evenings of tv and game time? Oh wait a minute! That's right! Noone knows  how to make a fat person thin anymore than they know how to make a thin person fat. Bodies just don't work that way. So, on that thinking, I sent the following comment to the website. I'm hoping to hear back from them.

Good afternoon,
  I was happy to see the article on Body Image for my 4 3/4 year old appear in my inbox today. My son is quite thin and bony and many of your suggestions make perfect sense. I'm familiar with body image issues and eating disorders in young children and know what to do to avoid them. However, many other parents are not, and will take your 'talk to your doctor about their BMI' advice to heart.

BMI is not meant for children or teenagers. BMI has repeatedly come under attack lately by many health experts (including Dr. Sharma, Canada's leading obesity expert) for being an inexact measurement, and a misleading one. Children are still growing and need all the nourishment and play they can get to grow healthy bodies. Some kids are naturally going to end up chubbier, or in my son's case, skinnier, than other kids. This message of body diversity is one of the most important things we can be giving to children, not that they (or their parents) need to be worried about an arbitrary number that doesn't apply to them.

Thank you for reading and I look forward to your reply.

Jennifer Rowe
Nanaimo, British Columbia
Author: Fat and Not Afraid

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