There's a story that has been lighting up social media and the message boards that's going to be talked about for a long time to come. It all revolves around a woman who allegedly refuses to give Halloween candy to kids who are, in the woman's opinion, "moderately obese".
The woman's opinions caught attention after she voiced them on a local radio station. According to reports, the woman feels that obesity is a community problem and that moderately obese kids shouldn't be collecting candy just because others are doing it.
While the woman's intentions appear to be focused on fighting childhood obesity, the way she's going about it could do more harm than good.
She's right in saying that kids shouldn't do something just because others are doing it. But that can hold true for just about anything. In fact, how can she be sure that her letter to kids whom she judges to be "moderately obese" won't have a worse long term effect on children's health?
Afterall, young people pay attention to what people tell them. It's a fact that society influences self-image. Halloween is a time when many kids will be wearing costumes that reflect their self-image and thus will be highly susceptible to positive (and negative opinions).
Most adults need only think back to the time when we were trick or treaters. Imagine how you would feel if someone told you that you don't resemble such and such character because someone has an opinion about your physical appearance?
Taken to the extreme some criticisms can cause children to become highly traumatized. For example, one reknown child psychiatrist recalled how a child lost so much weight that it killed her after allegedly being told by a school teacher that she needed to go on a diet.
There's little doubt that obesity has reached epidemic proportions. Health care experts predict that the prevalence of severe obesity will increase by 130% by the year 2030. It's also known that overweight and obese young people are at greater risk for cardiovascular disease than normal weight children.
While sedentary lifestyle and overeating are often the underlying causes for these troubling statistics, people shouldn't overlook the fact that medical problems, family history and finances can influence weight loss or weight gain.
As a society we have a responsibilty to promote education and spread the word about a healthy lifestyle (read my article "Obese Young People on Anti-Obesity Billboards - Raising Awareness or Promoting Stigmatization?" ) . But making the decision to withhold candy from people because of their appearance without knowing the facts behind why they are obese can be dangerous.
Does this mean that children who are not "moderately obese" will receive candy? What would that do to families where some children are "moderately obese" and their siblings are not obese?
It seems more fair to send the same message to all of the children regardless of body size rather than being discriminatory. Or better yet, to leave the children's health issues to their parents and health care providers.
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Woman Handing Out Letters, Not Halloween Candy - ValleyNewsLive.com
"Woman Won't Give Halloween Candy To Moderately Obese Kids" copyright © 2013 Living Fit, Healthy and Happy(SM). All Rights Reserved.