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Center for Body Trust Takes a Stand: Today, we delve into a critical issue that has recently come to the forefront of the news in early January of 2023 – the American Academy of Pediatricians (AAP) and their controversial guidelines on weight loss for children. We’ll do a quick review of the AAP guidelines but many great fat activities and body liberation folks have responded to the original AAP guidelines, you can check those out at the end of the blog. What we’re diving into today is the response from The Center for Body Trust and their stance against these guidelines.

 The AAP Guidelines: What’s the Fuss About?

In January 2023, the AAP released guidelines that recommended intentional weight loss for higher-weight children. These guidelines included the introduction of “Intensive Health Behavior and Lifestyle Training” as early as age two, with the possibility of employing intensive behavioral approaches, drugs, and even surgeries starting as early as age 13. The intention behind these recommendations was to address childhood ob*sity, but the implications run deep.

Diet Culture’s Aggressive Encroachment:

One of the most concerning aspects of these guidelines is how they aggressively bypass the boundaries and sovereignty of both children and their parents. Recommending weight loss for kids as young as two years old perpetuates diet culture’s harmful message that thinner is inherently better and that larger bodies are problematic.

Psychological Harm to Children:

Children are incredibly impressionable, and their self-esteem and body image can be easily influenced by external messages. When they are told that their bodies are wrong and need to be changed, it can lead to severe psychological harm. It’s a message that contradicts the fundamental principle of body trust and self-acceptance.

Fatness Is Not a Disease:

It’s essential to reiterate that fatness, often pathologized as “ob*sity,” is not a disease. The medicalization of fatness has been a longstanding issue, and it’s crucial to recognize that bodies come in diverse sizes and shapes, each deserving of respect and dignity.

The Troubling BMI Tool:

The guidelines’ reliance on the Body Mass Index (BMI) as a metric for determining a child’s health is problematic. BMI is a tool that has been widely criticized for its limitations and inaccuracies, and its use perpetuates a system of weight bias.

Disproportionate Impact on Marginalized Bodies:

One of the most troubling aspects of these guidelines is their potential to disproportionately impact Black and Brown bodies. The intersection of racism and weight bias exacerbates health disparities, making it imperative to consider the unique challenges faced by marginalized communities.

 Center for Body Trust: Taking a Stand for Body Liberation

Postpartum Essentials - a line art drawing of a baby being cradled with a parent's hand on their head with a very light pink background with peach water color circles and gold glitter accents

The Center for Body Trust has emerged as a staunch advocate for body liberation and has voiced its opposition to the AAP’s guidelines.

Let’s delve into some of the key points made by the Center for Body Trust in response to these guidelines:

Anti-Fatness Harms Us All:

The Center for Body Trust emphasizes that anti-fatness, weight stigma, and body shame do not discriminate.

These harmful attitudes and behaviors negatively impact everyone, regardless of their body size. It’s not just about protecting larger bodies; it’s about creating a society where all bodies are respected and valued.

Children Deserve Better:

The Center for Body Trust firmly asserts that it’s not okay to talk to children about their weight or size.

Placing the focus on a child’s fatness inherently otherizes them and other fat children, perpetuating the harmful narrative that their bodies are inherently flawed.

Weight Loss Interventions Miss the Mark:

These guidelines, centered on weight loss, do not address the root causes of anti-fat bias and weight stigma. Instead, they inadvertently perpetuate harmful stereotypes and behaviors.

The Dangers of Dieting:

Perhaps one of the most significant points raised by the Center for Body Trust is the inherent danger in putting a child on a diet. Restricting a child’s food for the purpose of weight loss can lead to harmful outcomes, both physically and psychologically.

 Moving Forward with Body Liberation

As advocates of body liberation, we must stand alongside organizations like the Center for Body Trust in their fight against harmful guidelines and practices that perpetuate weight bias.

Here’s how we can make a difference:

Education and Awareness:

Educate yourself and others about the harmful effects of weight bias, body shaming, and diet culture. Awareness is the first step towards change.

Advocate for Inclusivity:

Advocate for inclusive healthcare practices that respect the autonomy and dignity of all bodies, regardless of their size, shape, or color.

Challenge Diet Culture:

Challenge diet culture whenever and wherever you encounter it. Encourage conversations that prioritize health and well-being over aesthetics.

Support Body Trust:

Support organizations like the Center for Body Trust that are actively working towards a more inclusive and body-positive world.

The controversy surrounding the AAP’s guidelines for weight loss in children is a stark reminder that the fight for body liberation is far from over. We must continue to challenge harmful practices and attitudes that perpetuate weight bias and body shame.

Together, let’s work towards a future where children can grow up free from the burden of body shame, and where all bodies are celebrated and respected for the incredible diversity they represent.

Postpartum Essentials - a line art drawing of a mother and father cradling each other and a newborn on the father's shoulder with a beige background with green water color circle and gold glitter accents

Please note that while this response and the original article provide insights into the issue of weight loss guidelines for children, it should not be interpreted as medical advice. Every child’s situation is unique, and individual circumstances should be evaluated by healthcare professionals with a compassionate and inclusive approach.

Sources: 

Center for Body Trust opposes the new guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatricians. Center for Body Trust. (2023, February 23). https://centerforbodytrust.com/opposing-new-aap-guidelines/   

Hampl, S. E., Hassink, S. G., Skinner, A. C., Armstrong, S. C., Barlow, S. E., Bolling, C. F., Avila Edwards, K. C., Eneli, I., Hamre, R., Joseph, M. M., Lunsford, D., Mendonca, E., Michalsky, M. P., Mirza, N., Ochoa, E. R., Sharifi, M., Staiano, A. E., Weedn, A. E., Flinn, S. K., … Okechukwu, K. (2023). Clinical practice guideline for the evaluation and treatment of children and adolescents with obesity. Pediatrics, 151(2). https://doi.org/10.1542/peds.2022-060640

Original Responses to AAP Guidelines for Childhood Obesity

Aubrey Gordon’s Maintenance Phase Episode on Feb 28th

NPR Article Feb 22nd

Virgie Tovar Guest Article on The New York Times Jan 26th

Collection of various statements and social media coverage by Weight Inclusive Nutrition and Dietetic Group

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