A study from August 2013 was recently published in the Journal of Health Economics.
The study looked at the impact of “weight report cards” sent to parents in Mexico.
What they found was that the behavior of the fat children did not change and there was no reduction of BMI amongst the children.
In other words, the children were still accepted and loved by their parents and life went on.
Oh the horror!
The parents still accepted their children even after they were told their child was fat.
In fact, the parents of the fattest children were least likely to report their child as weighing too much relative to the least-fat children.
And why is this a bad thing, you might ask (or at least I’m asking)?
“As obesity rates increase, reference points for appropriate body weights may rise, making it more difficult to lower obesity rates.”
In other words, if larger body sizes become generally accepted they might not be able to scare, guilt, and shame people into trying to losing weight.
Can I have a big round of FUCK YOU, please?
The authors conclude to give up on the weight report cards . . . Nah, just kidding! They double down, saying that the report cards need to be combined with “a set of actions helpful for reducing obesity.” Here are my problems with that:
- Their example “suggested action”, portion control, hasn’t been shown to work over the long term.
- Fat does not necessarily equal unhealthy;
- Creating body shame can create health problems all by itself;
- There is no known way to achieve significant long term weight loss for most people (and by “most” – I mean 90%+, not 51% – okay?);
- Making healthy food choices and keeping active are good for everyone and the health benefits can usually be achieved without weight loss; AND
- The best mortality outcomes are for people who are currently in the “overweight” BMI range.
Since the best mortality outcomes are for “overweight” people, it seems logical that that range of body size should be within the “reference points for appropriate body weights”. In a perfect world, all body sizes would be “appropriate” or at very least, not anyone else’s fucking business.
It seems the parents in Mexico have it going on. They know their kids are fine as they are.
I know we have NAFTA (the free trade treaty) with Mexico, but let’s not export our own fucked up agenda to Mexican fat kids and their parents.