In response to Mrs. Obama's campaign to address childhood obesity, the EDC has collaborated with a number of organizations urging her to reframe the conversation and focus on children's overall health rather than weight. In that vein the EDC is working with a Member of Congress who is writing a sign-on letter urging Mrs. Obama to do the same.
On March 19th, NEDA launched an action alert that included a link to submit comments on Mrs. Obama's Obesity Initiative. The EDC highly encourages you to join in!
Below is the information for NEDA's action alert, which supplies you with the link to the webpage where you can submit your comments. The EDC encourages you to submit your brief comments using our sample comments and talking points as a guide.
The Sample Comments and Talking Points are below for your convenience.
To Whom It May Concern: As someone whose life has been directly impacted by weight and body image issues, I submit the following comments regarding Mrs. Obama’s Obesity Initiative. I applaud The First Lady’s intention to increase the overall health of our nation’s children, yet I am deeply concerned that the currently proposed initiative might also do harm by inadvertently causing eating and body image disorders.
I urge that as The First Lady works to address obesity amongst children, she also address the equally troubling issues of hazardous weight loss strategies and eating disorders that ravage the lives of millions of our nation’s youth. I have [included in my comments or attached] Talking Points developed by several eating disorder organizations in response to the First Lady’s Obesity Initiative. I urge you to consider these Talking Points as you revise the currently proposed Obesity Initiative. Thank you for your time. I welcome hearing from you.
Sincerely, ____(your name here)______________
RESPONSE TO WHITE HOUSE OBESITY PREVENTION INITIATIVE
Promote healthy lifestyle habits in all children through an initiative that focuses on environment and behavior, while reducing weight stigma and stereotyping.
Several organizations join forces to urge that the White House Childhood Obesity Prevention initiative to move away from an emphasis on weight and to focus on a broader definition of children and adolescents’ health. These organizations represent thousands of clinicians, researchers, educators and others concerned with the impact of eating disorders on children, adolescents and adults. They include: The Academy for Eating Disorders, the Binge Eating Disorder Association, the Eating Disorder Coalition, the International Association for Eating Disorder Professionals, F.E.A.S.T. (Families Empowered and Supporting Treatment of Eating Disorders), and NEDA (National Eating Disorders Association).
We favor efforts to promote healthy lifestyle habits in children and adolescents and applaud these White House objectives, announced Feb. 9 by First Lady Michelle Obama. However, the current version of this initiative neglects a critical aspect of our children’s environments, namely the social environment that includes harmful weight bias and stigma. We strongly urge the initiative’s programming to emphasize behavior rather than weight. We recommend that the White House initiative follow the guidelines developed by the Academy for Eating Disorders. The following points are based on the latest scientific evidence and best clinical practices:
Interventions should be health-centered, not weight-focused, as weight is not a behavior and therefore not an appropriate target for behavior modification. Children and adolescents across the weight spectrum will benefit from a healthier diet, and more opportunities for physical activity. Therefore, interventions should be weight-neutral, i.e. aim to increase healthy living at any size rather than promoting specific goals for weight change.
Prospective studies show that body dissatisfaction and weight-related teasing are associated with binge eating and other eating disordered behaviors, lower levels of physical activity, and increased weight gain over time. Therefore, constructing a social environment where all children and adolescents are supported in feeling good about their bodies is essential to promoting health in youth.
Programs should be careful not to use language that has implicit or explicit stigmatizing anti-fat messages, like “fat is bad,” “fat children and adolescents are not healthy,” or “fat people eat too much.” Interventions should focus not only on providing opportunities for appropriate levels of physical activity and healthy eating, but also promote self-esteem, body satisfaction, and respect for body size diversity.
There is ample scientific evidence that an environment focusing on weight and thinness is a risk factor for eating disorders. Moreover, a reliance on BMI as a proxy for health leads to many “false positive” assumptions of illness in healthy heavier children and adolescents, and many overlooked problems of disordered eating and harmful weight loss practices in average-weight children and adolescents.
The World Health Organization defines health as a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity. Consistent with this definition, interventions aimed at addressing weight concerns should be constructed from a holistic perspective, where equal consideration is given to social, emotional and physical aspects of children and adolescents’ health.
We ask that all aspects of the initiative consistently reference the importance of health for all rather than being framed around weight.
We urge consideration of the social environment, including the elimination of weight stigma and stereotyping, and eating disorder prevention, be a central part of the “Let’s Move” initiative.
We ask that information about eating disorders and how to prevent them are included onLetsMove.gov. You can link to Office of Women’s Health eating disorders campaign athttp://www.womenshealth.gov/archive/bodyimage/kids/bodywise/.
We ask that eating disorders organizations and human rights organizations representing the citizens most at risk for harm from weight stigma be included in the ongoing design and implementation of “Let’s Move.”
NEDA's Action Alert:
Dear Friends of NEDA,
Michelle Obama has announced that combating childhood obesity will be one of her primary missions as First Lady. As such, she has established a task force comprised of representatives from numerous government agencies. This task force has 90 days to make recommendations on the following goals:
(a) ensuring access to healthy, affordable food;
(b) increasing physical activity in schools and communities;
(c) providing healthier food in schools; and
(d) empowering parents with information and tools to make good choices for themselves and their families
The task force is seeking feedback from the community to assist them in this significant endeavor. This is our chance to ensure that eating disorders are heard! They are accepting public comments.
NEDA urges you to write to the task force today to educate them about the dangers of misinformed obesity prevention, to encourage programs that promote healthy behaviors and body satisfaction, and which incorporate the emotional aspects of eating and body image.
Click here for facts about the need for eating disorder informed obesity interventions. Click here for the Academy for Eating Disorders Guidelines for Childhood Obesity Prevention Programs. Click here for an article written by expert, Kathy Kater, on the dangers of misinformed "obesity prevention." These resources may be helpful to augment your comments.
To submit your comments to the task force, and for more information about the obesity initiative, please visithttp://www.regulations.gov/search/Regs/home.html#documentDetail?R=0900006480abe53d
Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org and let us know you submitted a comment!
Let’s make a difference! Act today to change the future!