Weight Stigma In Children

We have a responsibility to protect children from harm and give them the tools they need to grow into happy, healthy, well-adjusted adults. Weight loss advice and weight stigma are antithetical to this. 

Leave children's bodies alone!

We live in a world that is hyper-fixated on "childhood ob*sity", and believes it is a "problem" that needs to be urgently addressed.  We've been led to believe that weighing children, monitoring their diet, and encouraging weight loss is the "solution". However, weighing children and/or putting them on a diet is linked to...

Body dissatisfaction

which is linked to poor mental health, depression, and self harm

Harmful eating habits

which can impact development and increase the risk of eating disorders

Feeling othered and excluded

which has a detrimental effect on children and adolescents

Fear of healthcare

which can lead to lifelong medical avoidance poorer health outcomes

Most Fat children grow up to be Fat adults

Unless we want history to keep on repeating itself, it's important to listen to the lived experience of those who were encouraged to lose weight as children and adolescents. Below are some of their stories. 

"The first person to bully me about my weight was my doctor. He told me I was going to die young if I didn't go on a diet."
"The doctors told my parents that they had to do something about my weight when I was four. I've been on a diet ever since."
"My parents sent me to fat camp when I was a child. Now I'm an adult with an eating disorder and I hate my body."
"My brothers were always slim so they could eat what they wanted but I wasn't allowed to. All I wanted was to be treated the same."
"Mum took me to my first weight watchers meeting when I was 10. She always hated her body and I grew up thinking that was normal. It's not."
"I've been on a diet since I can remember. I was constantly weighed as a child and terrified of gaining weight and letting my parents down."
"I was constantly teased about being a chubby child. I became obsessed with what I ate and I developed an eating disorder aged 12."
"I remember my body developing a lot quicker than my peers and that made me very self-conscious because I weighed a lot more than them."
"The doctor told my mum to stop feeding me home food and give me salads instead. We were both so ashamed when we left her office."

A Note About Language

The term "Fat" is used as a neutral descriptor, which has been co-opted by the Fat community and does not carry any negative connotations. It is used interchangeably with the term "higher weight individual". 

The words “ov*rweight” and “ob*se” are always censored because they are harmful and stigmatizing terms that incorrectly pathologize and medicalize bodies based solely on their size.

Fat children are being harmed

They are being introduced to a lifetime of weight cycling without any thought to the long term consequences. They are developing eating disorders at alarming rates. They are even being removed from loving homes because a judge and social worker deemed them too Fat. Our obsession with the size of children's bodies needs to end.

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