How Young is Too Young?

16 Aug

A new study finds that girls as young as three years old worry that they will
become fat.  How would a child that young even know what fat is let alone that
they are or are not fat?  A segment on GMA focused on a little six year old girl
near Houston who thinks that she is fat and worries about losing weight.
Seriously! Six years old?  I shouldn’t be shocked, I was teased as a child about
my weight as young as seven or eight, but maybe I was raised a little
differently, I don’t remember looking at any of my classmates and thinking that
they looked different than me, to this day, some twenty years later my mom still
has to remind me that one of my childhood classmates was a little black boy and
I was just amazed when she pointed it out to me years later that I never saw it
before, but it was how I was raised.

These children soak up this mentality from things they hear us adults say, a
mom who says that she needs to get to the gym so she can lose weight, a teacher
who won’t eat even a small piece of cake during a class party because she is on
a diet, our obsession with our image is beginning to rub off on our children and
this sets the stage for future eating disorders and years of therapy trying to
undo something they had no control over.

I have to wonder how much the media and governments “battle of the bulge”
affects these children’s outlooks.  We are constantly telling these children
that they need to be active and mindful of what they eat, which are wonderful
lessons that they need to know, but these lessons need to be reinforced at home
and they need to be reinforced at an early age so that by the time they are able
to make those decisions on their own they make the wise decisions.  Yet, a
cautionary note, something that I have said from the beginning, just because the
physical appearance seems to indicate that someone is overweight does not make
it so.  That little girl from Houston I spoke of earlier, she is happy and
active and according to her pediatrician, she is completely with in the
“allowable” weight and BMI range for a child of her age and height.  While I
don’t put much stock in the medical communities prescribed weight and height
charts, by all accounts this little girl shows no signs of being at risk of
being obese.  Yet, she is still teased by her peers, one little boy at a recent
birthday party refered to her as the “fat girl.”  In fact, one of her teachers
has told her that she needs to run more so that she can “loose her belly.”

There is so much more to life than your weight and when adults put so much
emphasis on the topic of weight and weight loss, especially in front of a group
that is so easily influenced, we set up a whole new generation to repeat the
patterns that, in all honesty, have gotten us where?  When we stop allowing our
children to be baby sat by a Nintendo and quit allowing McDonalds to be the
daily chef de jour and use the these moments as opportunities to teach how to
make wise decisions then the focus is not on being fat or thin, its about being
healthy and when it is all said and done, that is where the focus should

So, how young is too young to be worrying about your weight?  How old were
you when you became aware of your weight and appearance or went on your first


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