Weight Loss Tip Booklet - 151 Simple Ideas

It was lousy growing up fat. Nothing was more degrading than buying my clothes in the “husky” section. Okay, maybe showering in front of a bunch of guys after high school P.E. was worse… or, wait, never dating … or, wait a second, here’s one: being teased behind my back — and for that matter — to my face… or, well …  I guess there are countless things that suck about being a fat kid.

A recent study shows that obese children in grades three through six are more likely to be bullied than children of a normal weight. Teen suicide due to bullying — an absolutely horrifying thought — has tragically been in the news a great deal, raising awareness of the psychological impact of constant harassment. Now we discover that that it begins at an early age, with overweight children as the primary target.

Based on my own memories, I didn’t find this to be news. However, I had assumed, or maybe naively hoped, that things had changed. Not so, as researchers at the University of Michigan surveyed over 800 children ages eight to 11. In the third grade, 15 percent of the children were overweight and 17 percent were obese. A quarter of the students admitted to being bullied; with 45 percent of the mothers reporting that her child had been bullied for his or her weight. The odds of being bullied were 63 percent higher for children who were obese than their classmates of a normal weight, and bullies did not discriminate based on gender or economic status. Overweight boys were just as likely as girls to be bullied, and even those with good social skills weren’t spared.

“I thought maybe (good social skills) would protect obese kids from being bullied. But no matter how we ran and re-ran the analysis, the link between being obese and being bullied remained,” said Dr. Julie Lumeng, lead researcher. She is concerned that the perception surrounding obesity is that it’s caused by a lack of exercise and overeating when the underlying condition is often driven by other factors. “Many times, children who are not good at dealing with their emotions become emotional eaters,” she explained, noting, “we really need to work on changing this view of what causes obesity.”

My first response to this story was sadness, bringing me back to my own early days. The study suggested that we not only need to encourage healthy eating habits for young children, but also need to set a good example by refraining from making negative comments about people who are overweight. Children of course, are mirrors of us and they pick up our attitude, which results in bullying behavior. In effect, we indirectly teach our children to bully.

However, there is a bigger picture. We need to remember that each and every person has habits about which he or she is not proud. The difference is that if over-eating is the habit, it cannot be hidden. It is on display for all to view.

Smoke too much but hide well? No one knows. Have trouble with anger management but it doesn’t leak into public? We won’t judge you. Yet, eat too many fries and not exercise enough, and everyone’s got a comment. Seems to me that if we each paid a little more attention to our own issues, we’d all be happier and healthier.

Maybe, when I’ve achieved complete perfection, I can judge others.  However, I don’t see that happening soon.
Michelle Obama has chosen to grapple with the crisis of childhood obesity. Props to the First Lady, as this is a dilemma of historic proportion. In a mere two decades, when we as elderly baby boomers, are gobbling up every available resource related to health care, our children and grandchildren, plagued by the ailments of a lifetime of obesity, will figuratively be feeding from the same trough. (Bad analogy; but it works.) We are rapidly approaching the only time in history when three generations will be suffering from the ill effects of poor health at the same moment.

So, let me make one thing clear: childhood obesity begins in adulthood.

At first blush, that makes as much sense as the bumper sticker that proclaims, "Insanity is hereditary. You get it from your kids." Of course, that placard is humorous; the wellbeing of society is anything but. The unvarnished truth is when we get down to brass tacks, children to not become obese by choice, but rather by the (in)action of adults.

Before, with great high dudgeon, mothers and fathers converge upon this establishment carrying pitchforks and hoisting torches shouting for my removal, let me add with great haste (spoken as a father as well as a formerly obese child), that I am not placing fault entirely on the parents. Oh, indeed, there is blame to spread far and wide. However, we are the primary and first decision makers for our children. We set them on their path. We instill upon them our moral guidelines. We are the where the buck - or cookie - stops.

I know that in today's two-working-parent-I-am-really-exhausted-at-the-end-of-the-day world, fighting the influences heaped upon our offspring is overwhelming. I grok that these influences are powerful, selfish, misguided, even mal-intended. Yet, I think that as a society, we stand in a circular firing squad aiming at those on either side; in effect - pardon the mixed metaphor - fiddling as an overweight Rome burns in its own deep fryer.

Parents place fault with the media for an endless wave of advertising aimed at those too young to discern accuracy from hype. The media passes it to the schools for poor meal choices and vending machines full of sugar. Our educational system holds responsible government for inadequate funding, forcing subsidized income provided by the vendors who place the goodies in the machines, who then shout, "lack of control" at the parents. Circle complete; nothing is accomplished.

We have seen the problem and it is all of us. Someone has got to do something; no longer can we wait for "the other guy."  It therefore stands to reason that since my children are the most important people in my life, I am the end of their line. I must step forward first, figuratively and literally.

I resolve, that before I collapse on to the softness of the couch at the end of a long day, I will take a 10-minute walk with my kids, giving them the example of activity and the support of listening. I promise to not bring into our house any product whose label has as its primary ingredient, sugar (or any kind of "-ose"). I agree to eat a little less and pay attention a little more. In effect, I will stand taller, striving to be the example I want my children to become.

Role models are not without flaws; however, they take responsibility for them and continually attempt to improve. That's an objective good for children of any age, no matter how wrinkled they might be on the outside.