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Theresa Albert Headshot

Kids Tell the Truth About Obesity, Shouldn't We?

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It breaks my heart to see a child struggling with normal kid activities because they are overweight.

As a nutritionist, I know the path that child is involuntarily on and the terrible set-up that his current lifestyle truly is. Still, I have stood in line behind that overweight family and watched the responsible adults order for the child exactly what they should be avoiding.

These pre-pubescent children are the size and shape of 40-year-olds and the 40-year-olds taking care of them can't see it. But do I intervene? Nope. Do I step up and say, "They do have salads here you know, perhaps that's a better option".

No. Instead, I stand there feeling nauseated and worried for the child. I look away; it's none of my business, right?

I heard a story recently that stopped me in my tracks. One overweight nine-year-old was told by another, fitter boy, "If you don't stop eating those fries and pop, you will get fatter".

It may have been the "er" that did him in. I know it was painful to hear. I also believe that the comment was not intended to hurt, it was intended to help, but still, the damage was done.

The fry-eating boy was hurt; the commenter boy was baffled. Both mothers were mortified, each for their own reason. Everyone left the situation stunned.

But the truth was told here and it shouldn't have been shocking. In some ways, it may have provided a defining moment for the french-fry-eating boy that could positively change the course of his life. The content of the comment should have been something he had heard before and not news. The person delivering the information should have been someone whom the boy loved and trusted and delivered in a gentler fashion, but it wasn't.

Some poor, honest, straight-shooting kid had to do it. The brave deliverer of the bad news learned the worst lesson, I am afraid. Don't tell the truth. Look away and pretend you don't notice because that's what we do in our culture when we are afraid to hurt someone's feelings. Even though, doing so gently could save them a whole lot of pain in the long run.

I am not sure that I will react any differently the next time I stand witness to the fast-food abuse. I don't know that there is any reasonable way to react in this one on one and personal situation. After all, if I take the most hopeful interpretation of the moment, this really could be the only time all year that the child in question gets his burger, fries with gravy and a shake.

I doubt it but I have to tell myself that in order to be able to swallow my own lunch. Plus, I'm just not sure what else to do. I am open to any ideas.

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