Dont' talk about my child's weight front

“Don’t Talk About My Child’s Weight” Cards

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.

Professionals & Providers: you can order a full box of cards (wholesale)
Order 100 Don’t Talk About My Child’s Weight Cards

*NOTE: Due to the unexpected demand for these cards, we’ve had to make the decision to charge a fee to cover both printing and mailing costs. While our intention was to make these cards available for free to support everyone (and we did so for 2 years), the current demand means that as an organization we need to make sure that we cover the cost of making these cards so that we can keep sending them out!

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The American Academy of Pediatrics released a report on preventing “obesity” and eating disorders. The report suggests that physicians avoid talking about weight with children due to the potential risks involved. In fact, efforts to talk about weight with children have been shown to have the opposite effect of what is intended.

Weight talk and diet suggestions are associated with increased weight and eating disorders over a person’s lifetime. This is definitely not the intention of a doctor who is talking about weight, but it is nevertheless a likely impact.

Lack of evidence

There is no evidence that talking about kids’ weight at primary care visits is positive, and there is significant risk of harm.

A recent study found that talking about kids’ weight is not evidence-based medicine. Aside from no evidence of improving health, there has been no research into the risks associated with talking to kids about weight within the context of a primary care visit. And many adults who have/had eating disorders say that conversations about weight during primary care visits were a trigger for disordered behaviors and beliefs.

The current approach of primary care weight interventions is based on “an assumption that screening for overweight and a subsequent intervention conducted within the context of a primary care visit will lead to improved behavior, health outcomes, or weight. However, although these best practice recommendations and their underlying assumptions might seem reasonable, the supporting scientific evidence is limited. To our knowledge, there have been no randomized-control studies exploring whether screening—and/or intervention—for overweight in children and adolescents conducted within the context of a traditional primary care visit leads to clinically significant improvements in behavior (eg, improved healthfulness of dietary intake or increased physical activity), health outcomes (eg, lipid levels, glucose tolerance, blood pressure, or physical fitness measures), or weight.” Global Pediatric Health, 2021

Weight stigma in healthcare

Unfortunately, many doctors still discuss kids’ weight in front of them and make comments that suggest a child should “watch” their weight. This is confusing information for a child. It is also not benign since we live in a culture full of weight stigma and diet culture. Many adults have said that doctor’s comments when they were children were both hurtful and harmful.

While some doctors try to soften their judgement of a child’s weight by saying things like “watch your weight” and “eat healthy foods,” kids immediately translate those words into thoughts like “my body is too big and I need to eat less.” Worse, many children who have been teased for their bodies will internalize these comments, which are meant to help them, as “I am bad.” This shame about their bodies and themselves puts them at high risk for mental health disorders, including anxiety, depression, and eating disorders.

Pediatricians intend to help children when they talk about weight. An important step in becoming a doctor is to take the Hippocratic Oath. And one of the promises within that oath is “first, do no harm.” There is no evidence that talking about weight does not cause harm, and many testimonials that it does actually cause tremendous harm.

It’s OK to ask

Given that there is no evidence that it helps, and the risk of harm, parents must protect children from dangerous comments during primary care visits. We created these “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.

We are passionate about protecting kids from the dangers of weight stigma, and we want to make this easy for you.

Professionals & Providers: you can order a full box of cards (wholesale)
Order 100 Don’t Talk About My Child’s Weight Cards

*NOTE: Due to the unexpected demand for these cards, we’ve had to make the decision to charge a fee to cover both printing and mailing costs. While our intention was to make these cards available for free to support everyone (and we did so for 2 years), the current demand means that as an organization we need to make sure that we cover the cost of making these cards so that we can keep sending them out!

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.

Additional resources

Letter to the doctor who told me to “watch” my daughter’s weight

A letter to your child’s doctor from Sunny Side Up Nutrition

Scientific research library

Stop supporting intentional weight loss! Here’s the science to support a non-diet, weight-neutral approach