Published on August 24, 2019
It’s been only a few years since my daughter graduated high school. And if there’s one thing I remember from dropping her off at the same primary school campus for 15 years it was seeing the expansion of so, so many overweight students (first as kids in the Lower School, then as tweens in the Middle School, and then as teens and young adults in the Upper School) returning to campus each year even more overweight than the year before. In the Lower School, in particular, each year I saw bodies expanding and uniforms stretched to the max.
The number of children and teens who are overweight and obese is frightening, and the number of those who take medications for chronic diseases has jumped dramatically. Pediatricians are increasingly issuing prescriptions for high cholesterol, high blood pressure and hypertension, and more kids are now being treated with drugs for diabetes, sugar maintenance and insulin resistance. It’s a fact, too, that most of the increases in drugs for diabetes is seen in overweight and obese girls, no doubt a factor in more girls having erratic menstrual cycles, leading to hormonal disturbances, more diagnoses of PCOS, which itself leads to a whole slew of medical issues, including infertility problems. On top of all this are the emotional ramifications of obesity, confirmed by the increase in prescription drugs for depression among overweight and obese girls.
With few exceptions, in my experience, overweight kids have overweight parents—and overweight parents are frequently in denial about their child’s weight. Either they refuse to acknowledge it, or rationalize the extent of it, or think that since every other kid is overweight or obese their child’s size is normal. Finally, the often stated thinking is that their child will slim down as they grow up. In fact, most often, and as I saw with my own eyes, I watched the same kids grow up . . . and grow out.
If you are an overweight parent, be honest: Do you like what you see in the mirror? Will your child be happy growing up overweight like you? Will your child be healthy? Will your child blame you for the food and weight issues that will undoubtedly be a lifelong battle for them? You are responsible for grocery shopping, for cooking and preparing meals, for the eating habits that will be cultivated in your children.
The start of the school season is upon is once again. If you’re an overweight parent, this is a very good time to begin and commit to the journey to a healthier, slimmer life for yourself and for your children. It must start with you. Otherwise, next September will,no doubt, be like this September and other Septembers past: back to school, fat(ter) to school.