Fat-Shaming Just Makes Kids Gain Weight

In the 2018 film "Dumplin'," Rosie (Jennifer Aniston) is a former beauty queen and mother of a teen nicknamed Dumplin' (Danielle Macdonald), a toxic label Mom gave her as a child because she was heavyset. Now, in school and at home, the only thing anyone seems to notice about Willowdean (her real name) is the extra pounds she still carries. That is until, in an act of courage, Willowdean shocks her world by enrolling in the local beauty pageant. All of the bullies (including her mother) are left stunned by her talent.

Unfortunately, such a tale of fierce victory isn't often the case for young people dealing with fat-shaming. A study in Pediatric Obesity followed over 100 kids around age 12 for more than eight years. The researchers found that overweight kids who are ridiculed/teased end up packing on more pounds - a 33% greater gain in BMI and a 91% greater gain in fat mass annually - than overweight peers who reported no fat-shaming!

If your child is overweight, do not criticize her/him for how she/he looks or what she/he eats! Let your child know that bullying is never OK and to report it! Consider finding a mental health professional to help your child (and you) deal with the issues that may be fueling the overweight. Then lead by example: Make buying and cooking healthful foods family fun time; do physical activities together daily. Build healthy habits over time, and your child will find strength and happiness in discovering new skills and interests and healthiness.

© 2019 Michael Roizen, M.D. and Mehmet Oz, M.D.
Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.

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