Breaking news, you guys:
For parents concerned about their overweight teens, new research suggests the best tactic might be to just relax and cook a healthy Sunday dinner.
Pushing diets probably won’t help. Neither will teasing about weight. Instead parents should focus on having frequent family meals, creating a positive atmosphere at mealtimes, promoting physical activity and building self-esteem, the researchers recommend.
The study of more than 2,500 adolescents over five years reinforced several things that doctors have found among their patients – particularly that destructive behaviors such as vomiting or abusing laxatives are prevalent among overweight teens as well as their too-thin peers, and that body attitudes and perceptions can play a big role in future weight problems.
Yes, the shocking news that fat kids deserve love has apparently hit the Associated Press. No longer is it a guarded medical secret that giving kids shit about their fatness causes disordered eating behavior, or that, you know, parents shouldn’t be total dicks. It’s a revolution, y’all.
I can’t imagine being a parent reading this, the cognitive dissonance they must be experiencing, when they’ve been taking in a subtle and sometimes overt “fat shame works!” message for years. On the one hand, here’s an article telling them to love and support their children — that has to be intrinsically appealing. On the other hand, it’s telling them to love and support their children despite those children having bodies that they’ve been told are fundamentally flawed and morally indefensible. It’s certainly interesting to read it as a Shapely Prose blogger or, I imagine, as a commenter — I wanted to shake the paper this morning and say “FUCKIN A, I COULD HAVE TOLD YOU THAT!” For probably the first time, there’s something in the news about the Obesity!Crisis! that actually accords with fatties’ real-life experience.
Of course, we remain a dozen steps ahead of the MSM, since we recognize that it’s not as easy as saying “cook a healthy Sunday dinner” — plenty of parents don’t have the time, money, or energy to cook and serve a dinner that these researchers would consider healthy. But while it’s absolutely crucial that we find a way for all families to get adequate nourishment, I think it’s just as important that we stop poisoning children with hatred and shame. If people can bring themselves to heed this study, it’s more than a baby step. (That is, of course, assuming that people can draw the connection between the counterproductiveness of fat-shaming and their consistently worthless childhood obesity initiatives.)
I’m really curious to see how much attention this gets. It did get picked up in the local commuter paper, which is a digested mashup of AP and WaPo, and I wonder how much further it will go. Common sense on the one hand, challenge to the status quo on the other… will that tension be enough to keep these eminently reasonable conclusions in the news?