A study out of Harvard University claims that babies who gain weight quickly during their first months of life are more likely to become obese later in life.
The lead author, Dr. Elsie Taveras said the study should be used to raise awareness about potential risks but is not a reason to put babies on a diet.
Okay, that seems fair.
Other doctors point out that babies often grow in spurts. Dr. Michelle Lample (director of Emory University’s Center for the Study of Human Health) is afraid the guide could be used to feed infants less and could prompt feeding patterns that could lead to obesity later.
Lample also pointed out that while many infants crossed at least two key points on the growth charts, only 12% were obese at age 5 and slightly more at age 10. The National average for obese preschoolers is 10% and about 19% by age 11. Showing that this “predictor” is not very good at predicting.
What scares me is that with fat-phobia being so common place in the healthcare professions, anything that would lead to labeling an infant as (horrors) fat (or heaven forbid, possibly becoming fat) puts that infant at the mercy of other people’s fat phobia at the time when brain, muscle, and bone development are dependent on good nutrition.
Dr. Joanna Lewis (a pediatrician in Park Ridge, Illinois) seems to me to be a prime example. She supports the idea that infancy is not too young to start thinking about obesity. She emphasized that rapid growth in infancy doesn’t mean babies are DOOMED (yes, doomed) to become obese. “It’s not a life sentence.” Oh boy.
Scary enough for you?
Now look at the story coming out of Appleton, Wisconsin where parents are facing jail time for starving their infant daughter because the father was afraid she’d become fat.
In fairness, the healthcare professionals and social workers urged this couple to feed their child more – and the parents continued to starve their child to the point where she had no subcutaneous fat.
Well, new parents don’t always know what they are doing, right? Except Christopher Sultze is 35 and his wife Mary is 36 and they have three other children. Mary’s attorney isn’t sure there was any criminal activity or just misguided parenting intentions.
Obviously, this is an extreme case, but it shows what can happen when people become convinced that being fat is the worst thing that can happen. And people become convinced when that is the message they are constantly getting from healthcare professionals, the media and the government.
“Consequences are unpitying.” George Eliot