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Shaming Children for Eating Snacks: How Not to Fight Childhood Obesity

The Bible suggests food is a gift from God—even when we're trying to lose weight.

Manhattan socialite Dara-Lynn Weiss's essay in the April issue of Vogue touched off yet another Internet skirmish, part mommy war, part diet war, with cries of child abuse, accusations involving recipes for eating disorders, and of course, the inevitable book deal.

Call her the Tiger Mom of the weight-obsessed.

The snack-size version of Weiss's essay (not available online) is that her 7-year-old daughter, Bea, was found to be in the 99th percentile for weight. In response, Weiss put her on a kid-appropriate Weight-Watchers-style (i.e., restricted calorie) diet, but also served up a heavy portion of guilt and shame. She describes depriving Bea of dinner upon learning that "French Heritage Day" at her school involved Brie, filet mignon, baguette, and chocolate, telling her "you have to stop eating crap like that, you're getting too heavy," and shaming Bea for eating snacks that her friends' parents and other caregivers had given her.

In the essay, Weiss admits to having a complicated relationship to food herself:

I have not ingested any food, looked at a restaurant menu, or been sick to the point of vomiting without silently launching a complicated mental algorithm about how it will affect my weight.

Weiss also says she has been

on and off Weight Watchers, Atkins, Slim-Fast, LA Weight Loss, Jenny Craig, juice diets and raw food diets.

Believe it or not, I can relate. Once upon a time, I was conflicted and panicked about food and eating. Having a child spotlighted those anxieties; when ...

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