Obesity, particularly childhood obesity, has spent a lot of time in the news. There’s a good reason for that too. Obesity is a dangerous condition that can lead to a myriad of health problems. Unfortunately, society typically receives mixed signals about how to address the issue of weight, particularly among women.
First, let me say that much of the problem of obesity among men is because we guys have a tendency to not give a flying flip. We get our guts, accept it, and just move on. Many men just don’t care about whether or not we’re heavy.
Women, however, are a far more interesting situation.
As the father of a daughter, I worry about how to deal with weight issues. On one hand, I’ve been told that pointing out a weight problem could send my daughter into the waiting arms of anorexia or bulimia. Not saying anything could lead to heart disease and diabetes. What is a father to do?
Luckily, my daughter is still young. She turns one tomorrow. We control every aspect of her nutrition and she’s doing just fine. Unfortunately, that won’t continue forever.
Folks, the signals that society is sending is that I’m damned if I do, damned if I don’t.
Let me make it clear that I don’t care what an adult chooses to do with regard to their weight. I may advise them to try and be as healthy as humanly possible, but it’s still their decision. I believe in individual liberty, including the freedom to be unhealthy. Hell, just take a look at me sometime. I’m down over 25 lbs from where I was when I took over the Journal, but still overweight. I’m hardly one to judge.
However, with our children, parents have a responsibility to help our kids be healthy and active. A lot of us aren’t living up to the task. That’s why the CDC says that a third of our children are obese. A recent study in theNew England Journal of Medicine reported that there’s also no discernible link between a lack of gym classes in school and childhood obesity, so we can’t even point the finger there.
The mixed signals we get as parents on how to deal with weight issues our children may have is part of the problem. Tons of commentators have taken to the airwaves over the years to warn about telling your daughter she’s overweight. This, these experts say, could push her to develop eating disorders like anorexia or bulimia.
What they don’t tell us is how to deal with our children’s weight problems. They don’t tell us to talk about health versus weight. Anorexia and bulimia are anything but healthy, but they bring about rapid weight loss. There’s a lot of chatter about what not to do, but not that many signals on what to actually do.
This only touches on the mixed signals we get. Some of the others? I’m honestly not brave enough to tackle some of the others.