Monday, August 25, 2014

Accountability or just plain ol' fat shaming?

I know I usually start my blog posts with a jaunty introduction about something in my life, but then I was checking up on the website of Registered Dietitian Aaron Flores and he posted about this video:

I am so disgusted, I can't even be jaunty. 

I know we need to take accountability for our actions in life. And yes, it shows the "body" in question avoiding too much exercise and eating a lot of cake. Mmmm...cake.

And yet for all this lack of moving and hidden stash binge eating (that was a trigger for me) and endless huge meals, it was this guy's mother's fault for enabling this lifestyle! The shame! Fast food and juice for infants! You ruined your baby, mommy!

Look, my mom forced me to eat home-made granola and foods from The Vegetarian Epicure and Recipes for Small Planet. In other words, healthy, hippie food. And I still ended up with binging on hidden candy stashes, giving up on exercise, and tipping the scale at 300 lbs. in my 30s. 

Giving your kid french fries isn't the sole reason he dies of a heart attack.

In fact, studies show that parents trying to set more stringent dietary rules on their kids end up with more eating disorders AND obesity issues. 

Then again, you can blame it on television. Or the school system. Or anyone else who you need to place shame upon. 

In other words, its a rich tapestry of reasons as to why we might be obese and suffer from health issues because of it. And by shaming both the obese person and their might as well be blaming them for the economy, too. It doesn't help. In fact, I can only imagine it will make it worse, because you're making the situation worse. You're not asking or helping people take accountability. You're just abusing them for having birthday cake.


Which reminds me of THIS video, which is meant as a joke, but I think covers what the ad is trying to convey in a much better fashion and far more truthfully:

The answer is try to be healthy. Work on it and own it. I can certainly blame my parents for a ton of things, but my current weight and health are my responsibility alone.

Carter R. “The Impact of Public Schools on Childhood Obesity.” JAMA 288, no. 17 (November 6, 2002): 2180–2180. doi:10.1001/jama.288.17.2180-JMS1106-6-1.
Clark, H. R., E. Goyder, P. Bissell, L. Blank, and J. Peters. “How Do Parents’ Child-Feeding Behaviours Influence Child Weight? Implications for Childhood Obesity Policy.” Journal of Public Health 29, no. 2 (June 1, 2007): 132–41. doi:10.1093/pubmed/fdm012.
Flores, Aaron. “Balance Variety and Moderation RDN: Childhood Obesity PSA - The Completely Wrong Message.” Balance Variety and Moderation RDN, August 14, 2014.
Klesges, Robert C., Mary L. Shelton, and Lisa M. Klesges. “Effects of Television on Metabolic Rate: Potential Implications For Childhood Obesity.” Pediatrics 91, no. 2 (February 1, 1993): 281–86.
Robinson, Thomas N., Michaela Kiernan, Donna M. Matheson, and K. Farish Haydel. “Is Parental Control over Children’s Eating Associated with Childhood Obesity? Results from a Population-Based Sample of Third Graders.” Obesity Research 9, no. 5 (May 1, 2001): 306–12. doi:10.1038/oby.2001.38.


  1. The first article you linked actually showed the opposite of what you stated: Results: Counter to the hypothesis, parental control over children's intake was inversely associated with overweight in girls, as measured by body mass index, r = −0.12, p < 0.05, and triceps skinfolds, r = −0.11, p < 0.05. This weak relationship became only marginally significant when controlling for parents’ perceptions of their own weight, level of household education, and children's age. No relationship between parental control of children's intake and their children's degree of overweight was found in boys.

    The second one said that parental "restriction" can lead to weight gain, not "control", in my opinion those two words are very different.

    I think parents do need to take responsibility. Sure, there will always be exceptions to the rule and as parents there is only so much we can do. But it is our job to teach our children about healthy bodies and how to fuel them properly. Yes, the child can grow up and still make bad choices and become obese, but that doesn't take away our parental responsibility to do the best we can while they are in our care. If you have an obese child (one who doesn't have medical issues making him/her obese) I think you need to take a look at the choices you are making for your child and yes, YOU are to blame. The child is born into the environment you create for him/her. You are setting your child up for a lifetime by letting him/her get obese. There's just no way to sugar coat that. More education for parents is needed, but sometimes just education doesn't work. Many parents already know the dangers of obesity, know that there are healthier choices, yet still allow their children to overeat junk food. Maybe scare tactics are necessary for those parents. It's a real problem that needs to be addressed. Obesity is an epidemic among children, and that needs to change. Sorry for the rant. :) I'm passionate about this topic. I found your blog through The Lean Green Bean today.

    1. Hi Maryea,

      Hey, anyone who actually click through and reads the research cannot be said to rant! :) I'm glad somebody did it.

      I've said before in a lot of posts that we often find the data we want to support our own theories and beliefs. But even that data is often limited in scope or definitive outcome. I think the terms "restriction" and "control" can both be taken in a negative light. My health conscious mom didn't forbid me to eat other foods outside of the house, say at a birthday or event, but was not offering those as options to me in house a restriction and therefore a cause of my lifelong weight issues? Would my situation have warranted me as an acceptable test subject in these reports?

      Yes, I believe it is up to us to teach our children how to approach food from a healthy viewpoint, but there comes a time when the accountability is on the individual to control their own food destiny.

      What I DO hope its taught to children is that there should never be anything called a "diet" in regards to one's weigh and that nothing is quick fix or earned for free.

      A sound ethic of cause/effect and accountability is what I think is needed. Because one day soon, they're not going to be living under our roofs 24/7.

      Thanks for reading!