Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Should you send your child to Weight Watchers?

In the comments on the Fat Camp post yesterday was the question, "Why not send a child to Weight Watchers?".

There's some overlap between Fat Camp and Weight Watchers and it has to do with the attitudes and thoughts cultivated in children who have been effectively told they're too fat and that they must lose weight, and that they need professional help.

Putting aside the question of whether or not Weight Watchers or Fat Camps teach healthy weight management practices, my belief is that for most children instead of cultivating healthy behaviours, Fat Camps, Weight Watchers and other direct weight loss interventions end up cultivating tremendously negative emotions, guilt, self-doubt, low self-esteem, sadness, and in most cases, ultimately failure.

My belief quite simply is that unless the child has a major weight related medical condition that requires treatment, that weight loss education should be relegated to the parents and not to the child.

Furthermore I'd state that any weight loss intervention for children that does not explicitly involve the parents is ill informed and worth avoiding.

To illustrate some of what I'm talking about, Rudd Sound Bites back in June posted a fantastic essay by Marjorie Galler who herself had once attended Fat Camp. The essay is a fantastic glimpse into what goes on at Fat Camp. It's a must read - click here.

Any readers out there go to Weight Watchers (or other weight loss program) when they were kids? Any of you remember how it made you feel and whether or not it fostered healthy attitudes and behaviours about weight? I'd love to hear about it in the comments.