What’s wrong with a “fat letter”?

I saw a post on MommyNoire about the fat letters that have been in the news and I couldn’t disagree more with their position:

    Maybe the fat letters help some families but the bottom line is, shouldn’t parents and their pediatricians be responsible for their kids’ weight? It’s good that schools want to be active in stopping childhood obesity. Fixing school lunches is one thing, but sending my child to a healthcare person that doesn’t know their situation for arbitrary evaluation seems silly.

If a child showed symptoms of a serious illness that was not being addressed, wouldn’t we expect the school to let a parent know? These letters may not just be stating the obvious, they maybe alerting parents to an issue that is being ignored.

According to a recent study, the obese children are not being treated because their parents are in denial. Childhood obesity isn’t just a matter of aesthetics, it has lifelong repercussions such as diabetes and heart disease. I get it. No mother wants to get one of these letters because we take criticism of our babies personally but we have to be able to put our feelings aside for sake of the kiddos.

Parents are the key to reducing childhood obesity
A UCLA pilot study showed that it is possible reduce obesity rates through an intervention program which educated parents on healthy eating. The study participants had a 9 percent decrease in weight while the kids in the control saw their weight go up by sixteen percent! The problem I see is that some parents don’t know how to help their children eat healthier meals. Well, Wendy Slusser, MD, co-founder and medical director of the UCLA Fit for Healthy Weight program has offered the following steps to help parents create a balanced healthy diet for their kids:

    Offer a healthy, balanced diet

    Healthy Eating with meals and snacks that are rich in nutrients and minerals. Half of your child’s plate should contain fruits and vegetables, one quarter should contain whole grains and the other quarter should be foods high in protein. By making plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grain snacks and healthy beverages easily accessible, parents can help their child avoid foods high in sugar, salt, high- fructose corn syrup, hydrogenated oils and saturated/trans fats, and encourage a healthy diet both during meals and snack times.

    Cook more meals at home, have regular meal times and get your kids involved.

    By cooking at home, parents have control over food choices, portion size and when meals or snacks are served. When kids are involved in shopping for and cooking meals, parents can teach them the nutritional value of each food as well as have important family time.

    Control portion size.

    Exact portion sizes differ depending on age, gender, weight and height, but a rough estimate of portion size is a one-hand fist size for fruits, vegetables, pastas and beans and a palm-size for proteins.

    Increase physical activity and limit TV/computer time.

    Exercise is an important component of a healthy lifestyle. By reducing screen time, kids can avoid unnecessary empty calories from snacking and be more inclined to increase physical activity by going outside.

    5-2-1-0 Blast-Off to Healthy Eating

    5 or more servings of fruits and vegetables
    2 hours or less of recreational screen time
    1 year or more of breastfeeding; with exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life with introduction of appropriate infant food at 6 months old
    Blast off and have fun with one hour or more of physical activity

    Support a healthy lifestyle

    Healthy Lifestyle“By introducing your child at an early age to a healthy lifestyle and a well-balanced diet rich in minerals and nutrients, parents can help their child prevent obesity, diabetes and iron-deficient anemia,” Dr. Slusser says. “The family home environment needs to support a healthy lifestyle for everyone.””

As mothers, we are responsible of our children’s health and it is as simple as saying no to junk food and saying yes to healthier choices but that can only happen if we stop being in denial.

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