So... BMI on report cards, Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move” campaign . . . I’m so sick of seeing things on TV advocating for more physical activity and healthier food in schools. Before you all disagree with me, just hear me out. Health is wonderful and important. Play and physical activity is wonderful for the mind AND body. But BMI on a report card?
Actual Billboard. Made by Grownups. Who should know better . . .
BMI the Body Mass Index: an arbitrary number used to calculate whether someone’s weight is appropriate. It doesn’t take into account sex, genetics, build, or athleticism. Men are generally more muscular than women, women naturally have more fat, muscle weighs more than fat, etc. Higher muscle mass often puts athletes in the overweight category by BMI.
So I’m wondering: are we trying to give kids another reason to bully eachother, or are we just trying to teach them to hate themselves? To find moral value in a number? Are we advocating eating disorders under that guise of “health”?? (And by eating disorders I mean anorexia, bulimia, binge eating, and other.) I’m not saying kids don’t need to learn correct eating practices; they do. And they should also be taught about staying active (notice I said “staying active,” not “exercise”--that’s an important distinction). I think all of America could benefit from a refresher course on eating (and moving) intuitively. I AM saying that if we’re working at one side, we need to at least acknowledge the other. BMI on a report card is ridiculous. Even health professionals will tell you that BMI is merely a guideline. We’re all built differently.. I know, please try to contain your shock.
Kids are dieting younger and younger, and America is getting more and more unhealthy. Obesity and eating disorders are becoming more rampant. We’re killing ourselves trying to be “healthy.” How messed up is that??
Does anyone else think this ad is child abuse?
“In one study, researchers asked normal-weight middle school students if they intended to diet in the future—and when they followed up a few years later, those who had said "yes" weighed more than the non-dieters did. "The act of dieting, for the most part, leads to further weight problems," says registered dietitian Melinda Johnson, a lecturer in the nutrition program at Arizona State University. "It's not appropriate for the vast majority of kids to go on a weight-loss diet." --Angela haupt. U.S. News: Health.
(I can personally attest that the above statement is legit. I NEVER thought about my weight or my body until I started trying to lose weight. And as soon as I did that, I gained more weight. )
Mrs. Obama, I understand the good intent behind the “Let’s Move” campaign, but I IMPLORE you to address both sides of the food and exercise coin. Yes there are children who over eat and under exercise, but there are also kids who are restricting, binging, purging, over exercising, and the consequences of these behaviors are just as scary; just as deserving of attention.
When I searched letsmove.gov for “obesity," there were 35,200 results; "overweight" had 308, "anorexia" and "bulimia" both had ZERO, and "eating disorder" had three. THREE. One is a blog briefly mentioning that one in three girls have “depression, anxiety or eating disorders.” The other mentioned “binge eating disorder.” And exactly zero articles defined eating disorders, why they’re dangerous, or how someone can be helped if they have one. One in three children are overweight or obese, but the lack of attention paid in this campaign to the other side of disordered eating is offensive to me, and very irresponsible.
According to ANAD,“Over one-half of teenage girls and nearly one-third of teenage boys use unhealthy weight control behaviors such as skipping meals, fasting, smoking cigarettes, vomiting, and taking laxatives.” The last time I checked, “over one-half” means at least one in two. And that’s more than one in three. Eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness.
“Although eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental disorder, the mortality rates reported on those who suffer from eating disorders can vary considerably between studies and sources. Part of the reason why there is a large variance in the reported number of deaths caused by eating disorders is because those who suffer from an eating disorder may ultimately die of heart failure, organ failure, malnutrition or suicide. Often, the medical complications of death are reported instead of the eating disorder."
Kids don’t need to learn about “good” and “bad” foods. They need to learn about listening to their bodies and eating when their bodies want and need. Why is moral value attached to food? It’s all just fat, carbs, and protein. Teaching kids to diet isn’t ok with me. And that’s what this is, only it’s wrapped up in some pretty words and sugar coated (ironically . . . ). If food is good or bad, it has moral value; when I eat this, I’m “good”, and when I eat THAT I’m “bad.”
Let’s teach this: Moderation in all things; food and exercise included. Thinness and sickness; obesity and health, neither of these are mutually exclusive. There's no weight limit on AWESOME.
Until this happens we’re going to get sicker and sicker and pass on this culture to our children and theirs and on and on. That is NOT ok with me! I don’t want my children to go to school and have their teachers tell them what they’re eating “wrong” or that they weight “too much.” I don’t want them to think they have to diet. Dieting=starving=obsessing about food=losing control and binging=unhealthy weight loss or gain.
And guess what.
NO ONE IS HAPPIER.
TRUST me on this.
I think this current “kid’s diet” trend will teach children to view food as reward or punishment, not as energy to fuel their miraculous, extraordinary, and beautifully unique bodies.
That really scares me. . .