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Life After Emotional & Binge Eating

Anti-obesity campaigns and bullying of overweight kids

As a fat kid, I absorbed more than my fair share of unrelenting verbal and physical pummeling. Much of it happened in my own home, delivered by my older brother. There was no place to hide. 

I just watched a video that brought all that back to me. It shows Casey Heynes, a 16 year old student in Australia being tormented, until he snaps. This video has gone viral, likely for all the wrong reasons. (Warning, this video is violent and disturbing to watch.) I first learned about it in author Paul Campos’ latest post in The Daily Beast, in a piece entitled, Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move Campaign is Helping Bullies.

While Campos is not connecting the Australia bullying incident with the anti-obesity efforts in the US, could a campaign supposedly designed to make kids eat more healthfully and move more actually promote hatred and abuse of fat kids?

Personally,  I have a great deal of respect for Michelle Obama. I think her heart is in the right place, but I agree with Paul Campos; her effort to eradicate childhood obesity is dangerously misdirected by bureaucrats who have made all sorts of erroneous assumptions. 
About her advisers and the creation of this campaign, Campos writes…

“The committee did this despite Americans being healthier, by every objective measure, than they’ve ever been: Life expectancy is at an all-time high, and demographers predict it will continue to climb steadily. This isn’t surprising given that mortality rates from the nation’s two biggest killers, heart disease and cancer, are at historical lows and keep declining, while infectious diseases are under better control than ever. There’s no reason to think that today’s children won’t be healthier as adults than their parents, just as today their parents are healthier than their own parents were at the same age, continuing a pattern that has prevailed since public health records began to be kept in the 19th century. (Tellingly, 50 years ago government officials were issuing dire warnings that a post-World War II explosion of fatness among both American adults and children was going to cause a public health calamity).

And none of this even touches on a subtler and more invidious cost to the Let’s Move campaign: the profound shaming and stigmatization of fat children that is an inevitable product of the campaign’s absurd premise that the bodies of heavier than average children are by definition defective, and that this “defect” can be cured through lifestyle changes. As Casey Heynes’ desperate act of self-defense illustrates, fat kids have enough problems without the additional burden of being subjected to government-approved pseudo-scientific garbage about how they could be thin if they just ate their vegetables and played outside more often.”

You can read Paul’s entire article at The Daily Beast. I believe it’ll be well worth your time! 

(Note…I’m pleased to say Paul Campos is our guest in next Month’s A Weigh Out Members’ TeleSeminar.)

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Ellen Shuman is a Life Coach who specializes in emotional and binge eating issues. She is the founder of A Weigh Out & Acoria Eating Disorder Treatment, Vice President of the Binge Eating Disorder Association (BEDA), and Co-Chair of the Academy for Eating Disorders Special Interest Group on “Health at Every Size”, ellen@aweighout.com

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