Do Parents Make Kids Fat?

As parents, do we determine our children’s eating habits? There’s a lot of blame when it comes to childhood obesity, eating disorders and body image problems, but how much do we actually know about what works to help children eat and grow in a healthy way?

Back in November, I wrote about the issue of fat stigma, and the bad things that can happen to children’s health and well-being when they are shamed or bullied about being overweight. I referenced a policy statement from the American Academy of Pediatrics that called on pediatricians, in particular, to be careful about using harsh, stigmatizing or judgmental language with our patients around this sensitive issue.

Many of the people who commented on the article wrote about the pain of being bullied or criticized as children — or in some cases, the pain of seeing a child bullied — for being overweight. However, many readers also scorned “overweight parents feeding garbage ‘foods’ … to their overweight children,” as one reader put it. “Wake up parents,” said another, “Your kids don’t HAVE to snack all the time. You are ruining their future health and self esteem.”

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