Thursday, February 6, 2014


“Mama, are you still obsessed?” asked my 11 year old son from the couch. It took me a minute to figure out what he was talking about. I had just finished my weekly weigh-in with the Wii Fit. Did he think I was obsessed with weighing myself? Obsessed with weight loss? But then it dawned on me. He was asking if I was still obese.

Obese. Such an unobtrusive word to be packed with such power.

While I love the Wii Fit for weighing myself, I really can’t stand the stupid cartoon of the balance board that shouts out “That’s Obese!” every time I weigh in. In fact, I no longer turn on the volume when I weigh myself.  I know that I’m obese. I don’t need it shouted at me every couple of days. And I don't need my 11 year old son to hear it either.

Liam and I talked about what it means to be obese, and why I weigh myself. I try not to talk about being on a diet, or eating “bad” foods. While he currently struggles with gaining weight and has a lot of food issues, I want him to have a healthy relationship with food and his weight. Girls are often seen as the ones who struggle with body image issues and eating disorders, but it can hit boys too.

Parenting is a hard gig, full of potholes and pitfalls.  Fighting against peer pressure and the media makes it even harder.  Add in my own struggles and it seems like a perfect storm.  I'm hoping that Liam and I can keep up an open and honest dialogue about food, body image, weight, exercise and health.  I also hope that if I lead by example, he will follow.

How do you handle body image and weight issues with your children?

Statistics for Eating Disorders in Males
source: National Eating Disorder Information Center

  • Four percent of boys in grades nine and ten reported anabolic steroid use in a 2002 study, showing that body preoccupation and attempts to alter one’s body are issues affecting both men and women.
    Boyce, W. F. (2004). Young people in Canada: their health and well-being. Ottawa, Ontario: Health Canada.

  • The fashion industry has long dictated that female models be tall and waif-like; however, male models are now facing increasing pressure to slim down and appear more androgynous, in order to book top fashion jobs.
    Trebay, G. (2008, February 7). The Vanishing Point. The New York Times. Retrieved from

  • In a survey of adolescents in grades 7-12, 30% of girls and 25% of boys reported teasing by peers about their weight. Such teasing has been found to persist in the home as well - 29% of girls and 16% of boys reported having been teased by a family member about their weight.
    Eisenberg, M. E. & Neumark-Sztainer, D. (2003). Associations of Weight-Based Teasing and Emotional Well-Being Among Adolescents. Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, 157(6), 733-738.

  • Health Canada found that almost one in every two girls and almost one in every five boys of grade 10 either were on a diet or wanted to lose weight.
    Trends in the Health of Canadian Youth. A report based on the data collected through the 1989/90, 1993/94 and 1997/98 survey cycles for the World Health Organization Cross-National Collaborative Study: Health Behaviours in School-Age Children (HBSC). The trend comparisons report on data collected from among 11-, 13- and 15-year-olds in Canada. This report includes data from a selection of other countries as well as data from grade 6, 7, 8, 9 and 10 students in Canada. The report can be found at the following website:

1 comment:

  1. I don't have children but I applaud all of you out there that do and can put what we learn day to day into their little minds. I think it's awesome how you're going about it with your son! I think it's very important for them to know as much as possible (yes even at a young age) when it comes to health and why you're doing what you're doing. I didn't have that luxury growing up outside of the occasional health lecture at school. My parents were both employed by the government and in their minds that meant no time to workout or be healthy. And as far as food, I'm grateful for what was put on the table, but I'm more grateful now to choose what I want and what's healthy for me. If I were to have understood the choices that young, I might have led a different life growing up. So props to you for being so open because one day it'll make all the difference.