I recently received the below email from a viewer of a recent television appearance. I thought it so perfectly summed up the critical reasons we need to find new ways to teach our teens new strategies on how to take control of their health I had to share it with all of you (With the writers permission, of course).
Hello Dr. Erika, I just thought I'd throw my two cents in on the topic of teen obesity. I grew up in the 1960's and when a visiting Medical Dr. showed up at the school to weigh all the students...(who's bright idea was that?) a note was sent home to my parents that I was overweight for a child my age. My parents immediately put me on the Metrical liquid diet. I can tell you that that was the beginning of the end for me as I felt different, not normal and a disappointment to my parents. I went through my teen years/puberty, with a cloud hanging over my head. It started a life long battle with my parents and my weight.
Now I am an obese adult...I wasn't always as bad as I am now, in fact, when I look back on all the photos of myself growing up and into the 1980's I looked normal body weight. All those years it was all about a perception. My parents made me feel bad about the way I looked even though I was very attractive. We fought all the time...now I regret that. They would contradict the situation by saying....I have "such a pretty face". If I had a dollar for every time I heard that....I'd be able to afford a personal trainer for life!
Now I struggle with the emotions attached to my eating disorder and doubt if I'll ever conquer the demon? It's so ingrained after all these years. It's depressing. I feel for every overweight teen out there and hope they will disregard the stigma that surrounds them and focus on making a life for themselves. I believe if the focus is on their achievements and less on how they look, they can succeed. But they need the adult support and cannot be degraded by adults, parents and teachers. It's hard enough when their peers torment them. I can't fathom how hard it must be to grow up today......Thank you for your ear.
Many of you can probably relate or know someone who can relate so well with these thoughts. I am here to tell you... IT DOES NOT HAVE TO STAY THIS WAY! As parents, once we help our teens understand what specifically is going on in their unique bodies and teach them the cause and effect of the "way of life" choices they make.... we will empower them for the rest of their life to be in control of their health.