Stories about: Optimal Weight for Life

Parental bullying and overweight kids

Bored ChildOverweight kids can fall victim to all kinds of bullying. From name calling to playground confrontations, studies show heftier kids are more likely to be the target of bullying than children with smaller body sizes.

But what’s a kid to do when he or she is feeling bullied at home because of their weight? A recent news story by CNN focused on a young girl whose family called her names like “Twinkie” and “Gordita” and nagged her about food choices, thinking their criticism would inspire her to lose weight. In actuality the abuse caused her to eat even more, turning to food for the comfort and support she wasn’t offered by her family.

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Is the "bully pulpit" enough to protect kids from unhealthy foods?

foxchickAn interesting article on outlines a new plan by First Lady Michelle Obama and her Let’s Move campaign to help curtail the marketing of unhealthy foods to children. One key point the article and the administration make is that there won’t be any federal mandates to curb marketing activities; instead, they’ll rely on the “bully pulpit” (read: peer pressure) to get companies to choose to change their efforts.

It seems that asking the industry that has touted Cocoa Krispies as a way to stave off H1N1 and uses the color pink to sell cigarettes to girls to police itself when it comes to the number one public-health issue in the country is a bit like asking the fox to guard the hen house, but what do you think? Is this the way to affect real change? Is “shaming” marketers into changing their behaviors, as Federal Trade Commission Chairman Jon Leibowitz suggests in the article, enough?

David Ludwig, MD, PhD, a childhood obesity expert and director of Children’s Hospital Boston’s Optimal Weight for Life Clinic, has written extensively on this topic, including two recent commentaries in the Journal of the American Medical Association: whether front-of-package food labels have become so misleading that they might need to be eliminated altogether and whether the food industry can play a constructive role in the obesity epidemic.

In another Thrive blog post from today, Ludwig talks about his latest JAMA commentary, which recommends bringing back home economics classes to help kids – and their parents – learn how to prepare healthy foods.

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Should schools give grades on kids' weights?

fast food cheeseburger & measuring tapeThis week there has been a lot of coverage on the topic of childhood obesity. It’s not a new subject and one that we’re likely to hear much more on this year.

The Boston Globe reports that for the next 18 months, every public school in Massachusetts will evaluate whether students weigh too much or too little by calculating their body mass index (BMI) scores.

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Top pediatric health stories of 2009

McCarthyClaire_dsc0435From swine flu to obesity to dangerous plastics, many issues that affect children’s health garnered media attention in the year 2009. Here’s a rundown of the some of the biggest and most important stories:


This is the story that caught the most attention—for good reason. Not only is the H1N1 influenza virus very contagious, it appears to particularly affect young people. H1N1 caused more pediatric hospitalizations and deaths than we usually see with the seasonal influenza virus, which is very scary for parents (and pediatricians!). The virus led to countless school closings—sometimes to control the spread, and sometimes because there weren’t enough teachers left to teach!

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