When Discussing Childhood Obesity; Discuss Health, NOT Appearance


Talk show host and TV cook Rachel Ray in the 2...

I was emailed a link to a story concerning the Rachael Ray Show by one of my clients. Since I had been overweight as a child, he was interested in my opinion about the young person, in a very public forum, trying to lose seventy pounds for an upcoming prom. I am not home during the airing of the Rachael Ray talk show, thus I’m not very familiar with the goings on of her foray into syndicated t.v. talk, so I had to do some research.

First and most importantly, I am not going to mention the name of the young person. I am aware that the name is public;  however, I choose not to mention it.

Secondly, anything I am about to write is not directed at this young person and if you wish to comment here, I will delete any comments directed at this individual.

Thirdly, for full disclosure, I am a huge fan of Rachael Ray. I have watched her various programming on cable t.v. and enjoyed each and every one of them.

Finally, what I am writing is how I feel about this. I am not a psychiatrist, psychologist or a mental health worker. I am a Chiropractor and educator by profession, a person who underwent bullying as a child because I was overweight and I was, until two years ago, a morbidly obese adult. I am very concerned with the obesity epidemic in the United States and even more concerned about what is happening to our children. It is my hope to one day begin a foundation to increase awareness about childhood obesity and the resultant type II diabetes. You may agree with what I am about to write and say in my podcast or you may disagree, either way I invite your comments, criticisms and concerns. I just ask that you leave out the young person’s name.

With all that said, from the information I was able to gather, I am upset with this continuing “story” on Rachael Ray’s very popular television talk program. I am not sure such a public forum is the place for a child’s battle with obesity. Yet, even with my concerns over the microscope this person will now be scrutinized under, that really isn’t my issue.

No, I have several issues with how this weight loss “story” is being portrayed and played out. Childhood obesity is a real problem in our country. I have written about the topic on this blog and in guest columns for my local newspaper. I have made myself available to be part of a program on my local PBS affiliate, WVIA, about the topic and I have spoken to educators and administrators in local public schools. It may very well be today’s most serious health threat to our children.

My first issue is the way that this is being portrayed on the program’s website. To quote, “Join us for the start of an inspirational journey as we follow one overweight teen’s struggle to take control of her life and finally reach a place where she can love and accept herself.” When I discuss childhood obesity, I never, ever mention appearance. This quote can lead to no other conclusion that the pathway to happiness is improving one’s appearance.  I always discuss the issue in terms of overall health and fitness. By emphasizing appearance, one can open a horrible, self-loathing portal into the attitude that looks are the most important aspect of childhood. Much in the same vein, this line stating that once this-person loses weight, the ability of self-acceptance and self-love will be automatically given.  What a disgusting implication!

Is a person, due to obesity, not worthy of accepting one’s self?

What kind of message does this solitary sentiment send out to other young people who may read it?

If we are unable to accept and love ourselves, does this, to the reader, now intimate we are unable to receive acceptance or love from others?

When we are tackling childhood obesity, it must never be done from these points of view:

-appearance

-acceptance

-worthiness

or

-love

We should impart to our children so they clearly understand that their weight does not sway our view of them, not one iota. We must convey that we are concerned for their overall health and fitness. We are not concerned about how they appear and we never make their weight a condition of our love for them, nor should they make it a condition of their love for themselves.

In my column entitled: Childhood Obesity and Bullying, I relate about how my parents supported me. They never made my appearance or even my ability to perform in sports I participated in a condition of their support. They were there to congratulate my success and to console my failures. Either way, I never doubted their love for and acceptance of me and I never had self-doubt for either myself.

It is my strong opinion that to encourage fitness upon our children, we should only focus on the health aspect. The premise on the Rachael Ray show that the weight loss will equate to self-love and self-acceptance is fundamentally flawed.

Rachael Ray with John McCain in the kitchen on...

My next issue with the Rachel Ray Show’s “story” about overcoming obesity is the whole “time frame” aspect of losing weight.

This is driven by a goal setting mentality gone amok and it is exacerbated by certain television programing. I’m not saying there is anything wrong with setting goals, but goals should help not hinder your progress. The time setting goal falls into the hinder side of the equation.

When I was dropping my weight, I was often told by many people: “I was losing weight too fast.” I asked them according to who? The answer was always the same; “They say you shouldn’t lose weight too fast.”

Well here is the kicker: I wasn’t trying to lose weight at any given pace. By utilizing a new eating plan and an exercise program that consisted of both progressive resistance training and endurance workouts, I was optimizing my weight loss. The goal was a desired final weight, a desired clothing size, a reduction in body fat and improved overall health measures such as blood pressure, pulse rate and lab work. I had interval goals, but the date I was to reach my goals was never an issue.

I tell my clients repeatedly, weight comes off as it comes off. Other than what I instruct, there are other methods to influence the rate of loss, but many of those gimmicks to hasten the speed really do nothing for the long-term goal. Besides, some may have injurious consequences.

I emphasize the need to get the “a certain weight by a certain date”mentality out of their heads. We don’t focus solely on the readings of a scale. Our goal is more that weight loss, it is an improvement in overall health and fitness.

English: Rachael Ray in Enterprise, AL. She, a...

Now on the Rachael Ray Show, they are pigeonholing this young person into a time frame to lose weight. The goal, as stated on the website, is to drop a fixed amount of weight by a fixed future date — the date of the prom.

Which leads me into my next issue with the Rachael Ray Show’s “story;” utilizing the EVENT motivation technique.

Anyone who knows me is well aware I have tried this method myself. I was going to get in shape for my first wedding, though I had gotten in a little bit of shape, I didn’t reach my goal. So what was I to do? Not get married? Well maybe I shouldn’t have, but I digress.  Of course, soon after the wedding, I just got out of shape again. So, the next event comes up and I am going to get in shape for that one. I do. Then after? Yep, back out of shape… and so on and so forth.

An adult should never focus on losing weight for any other reason than getting healthier and fit — end of story. All the other extraneous reasons are nothing more than obstacles to the long-term realization of a fit life. So then, why would we apply a different standard to a child?

It again comes to this self-worth theme that appears on the Rachael Ray website.

Are they sending the message that if you weigh too much, you should not attend your prom?

Are they sending the message that you have to be thinner to attend the prom?

Are they taking the risk of exploiting a serious problem for the sake of ratings or are their intentions genuine?

I can’t answer the last question. Rachael Ray is a celebrity. I don’t know the person behind the persona. However, the first two questions are the ones of greater importance, not only to the young person whose “story” is being followed, but to all of our youth.

We should NEVER emphasize whether a child will be loved, accepted or able to attend an important event based upon their weight or appearance. We should endeavor to educate our young people that the importance of preventing or reversing obesity is to live a healthy, fit and active life

Aloha, Ciao and Stay Healthy,

Joe

************The information contained herein is for information purposes only and is not intended to diagnose or treat any disease or disorder. The posting and videos do not apply to those with an underlying medical or hormonal condition. I advise anyone embarking on a weight loss and fitness plan to have a thorough medical evaluation. You want to be sure that you are physically able to exercise and you don’t have any underlying medical conditions No guarantees are made or to be implied.************

 

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2 thoughts on “When Discussing Childhood Obesity; Discuss Health, NOT Appearance

  1. Pingback: Strive For Excellence or Moderation? The Choice Is Yours! « Fat Then Fit Now

  2. Pingback: Excellence or Mediocrity? The Choice Is Yours! « Fat Then Fit Now

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