Commenter Jackie pointed out to me this recent news item on how “fat kids face widespread stigma“. It’s yet another one to add to the “No kidding!” files.
It’s full of what we already know but now it’s out in a paper that reviews all the literature on fat bias over the past 40 years, published in Psychological Bulletin. The full article isn’t general access, but the abstract states:
The authors then review stigma-reduction efforts that have been tested to improve attitudes toward obese children, and they highlight complex questions about the role of weight bias in childhood obesity prevention.
With these literatures assembled, areas of research are outlined to guide efforts on weight stigma in youths, with an emphasis on the importance of studying the effect of weight stigma on physical health outcomes …
Now that last part’s very interesting indeed and I’ll have to try to get a hold of the full article to read about it. Weight stigma and bias can kill, as Kate Harding’s guest blogger Thorn tells in Fat hatred kills – about how her mother died as a result of the negative attitudes of doctors.
And if this is what happens with adults, the effect on children is very alarming indeed – they are dependent on the adults around them for their health care, and I don’t know that there are many children who can be truly assertive in demanding proper care. Unless their parents follow the ideals of size/fat acceptance and ‘health at every size’, they’re unlikely to be able to show their doctor an introductory letter stating how their weight is just fine thanks and be able to leave if the doctor starts in on the nearly inevitable weight loss lecture.
The child’s dependence on adults for care is made more dysfunctional when, as the the study authors say, one of the biggest sources of weight stigma comes from parents. This from the parents has been around since well before the Childhood Obesity Crisis! bandwagon rolled around, but Jackie made a good point in her comment – it’s unsurprising that parents will engage in ultimately destructive practices to do anything to make their child “normal” weight when we hear stories of child protection agencies removing children from their parents because they’re “too fat”. No parent wants that, and they may ‘do what it takes’ out of sheer desperation and fear.
And look what’s just come up on the BBC site via Google News: Obese girl taken into care because of her weight. She’s apparently eight, and 5’1″ (about 156cm) and a size 16 (US size 14). That she is EIGHT and already 5’1″ should be a big fucking clue that she could well have some hormonal issues, or possibly be naturally quite big.
And people wonder why I’m perpetually cranky.