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May 17, 2014

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Katie Jennings

The other problem with most nutritional education is that most people who are obese (and I count myself among them, this isn't having a go) are fully aware that an unhealthy lifestyle isn't a good idea. The underlying factors are far more complicated than "just eat less" would suggest. So not only is this education triggering people with predilections to eating disorders, it isn't helping solve the wider problem. Like SB, I'm very fortunate to live in a country (the UK) that has health care available and to be receiving help. Teaching anything as important as PSHE in black and white is never, never going to solve a complex societal problem.

Cassi

I used to read some food blogs (Marion Nestle, for example), and there were always the comments that were SO against any kind of public policy that might lead to a healthier lifestyle. As a generalization, Americans are a group of people who feel that if you can't do it on your own, your a lesser person. They are so scared of the government that they refuse to see the role it has played in creating the food problem in the US and refuse to acknowledge that public policy can actually be helpful. Drives me NUTS.

lanes

"And while obesity might kill your child someday, anorexia is happy to do it today."

Wow. What a convincing way of saying that.

Jen

Honestly, Jenn, I find this article a bit frightening. As you know, my son is a people pleaser and rule follower (at least at this point in his 7 year old life). I think I do a pretty good job of modeling good eating habits, but I admit that I fail at modeling the importance of exercise. We got an exercise bike, and when he noticed the numbers (he loves math) that tell you how many calories you've burned, that became a game to him - to see if he could get a higher number than the last time. He thought that burning calories = good, so the more you burn the better. We had to talk to him and explain some things about calories, nutrition, the needs of kids vs the needs of adults, etc. I don't think information is ever BAD, so long as things aren't presented in black/white terms like you listed. I'm not sure it is such a bad thing to explain that eating more fruits and vegetables and the other foods in moderation is better for our bodies.

Lisa Springer

So many important and educational points raised here. True, obesity is real, but I just can not see how putting the responsibility on kids is going to solve it. Unfortunately I CAN see that responsibility leading to eating disorders in kids. As noted, this is a societal rather than individual issue and should be treated as such. The obesity epidemic can't and won't be solved at an individual level, but eating disorders can certainly be triggered at the individual level. Also, due to the amount of misinformation, stigma, myths etc around eating disorders still, even the best teachers and parents(unless they have dealt with ED in some way in their life) likely have no idea what they're risking with the way they are teaching this anti-obesity material (ex: good food/bad food; good kids exercise/lazy kids don't etc). It is imperative that we, as a society take this into consideration as what is likely to happen is increased fear of food, more dieting, and more life threatening eating disorders. On a personal note, I believe similar nutrition education was one trigger for my own anorexia. Sure, I was always somewhat anxious and a perfectionist growing up, I lost loved ones and dealt with PTSD... and most importantly, I had the genetic predisposition for anorexia just waiting for the perfect trigger so it could its ugly face! I do not think that it was a coincidence that anorexia took over me during a nutrition course I took my first semester of college. My eating habits became 'healthier,' I went to fewer parties, and started exercising more(and not for fun); then I found out I missed getting an A in the course by one lousy question on the final exam (mind you, this was the first B I had ever received in my life). I took that B to mean I was not 'good' enough at nutrition, said f* them,I will prove them wrong by doing BETTER that what they taught, and RAPIDLY descended into clinical anorexia.

mrs. g.

Bravo...so well written and true.

Lisa Guimont

As always Jen, I want to take what you write and post is in every newspaper, sing it loud on the radio and shout it from the rooftops! Thank you for always, and with such knowledge, putting out there eloquently, what so often parents struggle to find the words for.

Aunt Snow

My son was a picky eater as a toddler, so much so that it seems like he never ate anything other than bread. And I remember feeling anxious about it, and once even BEGGED him to eat Chicken McNuggets, so my shame! But my pediatrician said, "he'll eat when he gets hungry."

And so he did. By age ten his menu had expanded some; by age 16 he was eating sushi. By age 19 he was exploring Chinese restaurants in Queens; by 23 he was living in London and cooking.

Gab

This is so interesting to me, my son's 4th grade class just finished a nutrition unit. They talked a lot about food groups, where food comes from and staying active. For the final project they had to come up with a plan for a healthy summer camp. What of the kids who do not have good parent role models? Soda and junk food taste good, kids need encouragement to make healthier choices, right? I was looking at it as a good thing, but thanks for showing me that it's more complex than that.

Karen

Bless your heart! I don't believe I have any experience with someone suffering from an eating disorder. I just have to say, as one mom to another, your insight and ability to share inspires me to look a little deeper...at how I am parenting my daughters and the other loving (possibly clueless) mothers around me. Information and awareness are such powerful tools. I cannot thank you enough. Best wishes to you and yours.

Karen (formerly kcinnova)

I am amazed by severe lack of knowledge of what constitutes a healthy diet (and my diet, I mean lifestyle). I can see from this post of yours how lucky I am that my strong-willed son decided to educate himself about nutrition beyond common thought. While I believe that he is extreme in some things (including his barefooting lifestyle, sucking marrow from bones, etc.), I know that he also understands that every body needs fat and fiber. He's the kid who makes sure we take our vitamins.

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