Telling Kids “Don't Be Fat!” Is a High-Risk Message

Marilyn Wann

Trigger warning: bullying, teen suicide, eating disorders.

The school year has started, which means it's bullying season again for fat children and teens. Fat children in grade school are 63 percent more likely to be teased, according to a 2010 study published in the American Academy of Pediatrics' journal Pediatrics.

The authors seemed surprised by the extent of weight-based bullying.

“What we found, much to our dismay, was that nothing seemed to matter. If you were obese, you were more likely to be bullied, no matter what,” said pediatrician Dr. Julie Lumeng.

The federal government is doing its part. President Barack Obama last week declared September to be Childhood Obesity Awareness Month for the second year. On the playground, “awareness” means pointing a finger and shouting, “Hey, fatty!”

The presidential proclamation dovetails with first lady Michelle Obama's Let's Move campaign, which has the goal of “solving the problem of childhood obesity within a generation.” (In other words, “No fat chicks — er, children!”)

I challenge anyone to name a jurisdiction where weight-loss campaigns have had long-term results, much less done no harm. (A mandatory student weight-loss program in Singapore coincided with a sixfold increase in eating disorders among youth.)

“Don't be fat!” is a high-risk message.

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