In Defense of the Childhood Diet

Posted: April 4, 2012 by jerkmagblog in CRISP -- health, VAULT -- archives

In the April issue of Vogue, an article by Dara-Lynn Weiss outlines the trials and tribulations of putting her seven-year-old daughter, Bea, on a diet. I know what you’re thinking – A seven-year-old? On a diet? That’s Ridiculous! – but before you start screaming accusations of child abuse, take a minute to really think about Bea’s situation.

According Weiss’s article, the rates of Childhood obesity have more than tripled in the past 30 years, and currently, 17 percent of American children are considered obese. At seven years old, Bea was one of those children, weighing in at 93 pounds at only four feet four inches tall. (Ideally, a child of Bea’s age and height would weigh around 65 pounds.)

In dealing with her technically obese child, Weiss admittedly didn’t follow the most healthful of diet plans. (Depriving Bea of dinner after an 800-calorie French Heritage Day feast at school, for example.) But for a mother with her own food issues, she did what she felt was necessary – giving Bea less to eat and encouraging her to take up physical activities.

Eventually, Bea lost her excess weight through diet, exercise, and a much-needed growth spurt; and while Weiss claims that her daughter is much happier with her appearance, memories of her overweight self still haunt her.

After witnessing unnecessary backlash and rude comments on the story, Vogue eventually took it down from their website (which is in poor taste on the magazine’s part – if a magazine can’t stand behind their writers, then writers aren’t going to want to provide them with material to publish).

The criticism this article faced (and continues to face, thanks to websites like and is completely unwarranted. Any child – especially a seven-year-old that comes from an affluent family – isn’t going to be keen on the idea of a diet. Kids want what they want, and speaking as a former Bea myself, I would have been completely miserable if my parents had forbade my afterschool 99-cent bag of Doritos or my Sunday night sundaes… But I wish they had.

Bea may have issues with food for the rest of her life, thanks to her mother’s unfavorable dieting methods – but who’s to say that she wouldn’t have had them otherwise? Had Bea kept eating as she was, her Childhood obesity would have likely turned into Adult obesity, and isn’t over-eating an issue with food in itself? The unkind truth is everyone has issues with food, to an extent. Better to be physically healthy with food issues than unhealthy with those same food issues.

—Amber Brenza


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