Did you know that you can ask your child’s doctor not to discuss weight in front of your child? And there’s good reason to do this: in 2016, the American Academy of Pediatrics made the recommendations that healthcare providers not discuss weight with children and teens.
It released a report on preventing “obesity” and eating disorders. And it turns out that 3 common practices are associated with both:
- Dieting, defined as “caloric restriction with the goal of weight loss”
- Weight talk, defined as “comments made by family members about their own weight or comments made to the child by parents to encourage weight loss”
- Being teased about one’s weight
In other words, many of the things that we do as a society to prevent or control high body weight actually increases it, while also promoting eating disorders. And healthcare providers are part of the problem.
Getting healthcare to release its weight stigma
The AAP’s report is an attempt to get physicians, who have high rates of weight stigma, to change their behavior. But it’s applicable to parents, teachers, coaches, and everyone! Because eating disorders and high body weight look like separate issues, but they are closely linked. And it’s no coincidence that society’s increased focus on “obesity” has correlated with increasing rates of eating disorders.
All attempts to “manage” or “control” weight are actually disordered eating, and it’s a slippery slope into an eating disorder. The more a person believes they must avoid weight gain and seek to lose weight, the more likely they are to engage in eating disorder behaviors.
“Adolescent obesity and eating disorders are two sides of the same coin: a culture that tells young women (and, to a lesser extent, men) that the size of their bodies is the most important thing about them and offers them an endless selection of diet and exercise plans.” Slate, 2016
It’s not easy to change standards of care
Unfortunately, many doctors still discuss our kids’ weight in front of them and make comments that suggest our child should “watch” their weight. Even when these comments are veiled, our kids know exactly what the doctor is concerned about when they talk about weight.
And unfortunately we live in a society that tells our kids exactly what to do when they are “too big” – diet. And, as stated, dieting is associated with both higher weight and eating disorders.
So parents must step between doctors and our kids to protect children from dangerous weight stigma. We created these free “Don’t Talk About My Child’s Weight” cards to help you advocate for your child’s health at the doctors’ office and any healthcare setting.
Get these cards free!
We are passionate about protecting kids from the dangers of weight stigma, and we want to make this easy for you.
These “Don’t Talk About My Child’s Weight” cards are the same size as a business card. We want you to be supported in requesting healthcare that is free of weight bias. Just give us your mailing address, and we’ll be happy to send you a few cards to keep on-hand. If you want more, just let us know!
Professionals & Providers: you can order a full box of cards (wholesale)
Order 100 Don’t Talk About My Child’s Weight Cards
Front side of the card
The front side of the card says “Please don’t talk about my child’s weight. If you have any questions, ask me when my child is not present.
Back side of the card
The back side of the card says “American Academy of Pediatrics: Providers should not talk about weight with children and adolescents. 2016”
Ginny Jones is the editor of More-Love.org. She writes about parenting, body image, disordered eating, and eating disorders.