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He believes that stigmatizing overeating in children will be a feasible solution to end the increasing epidemic of childhood obesity. However, Critser has several problems linked to his simple solution to a very complex problem. First, Critser doesn’t talk about the discrimination and the rude treatment that people struggling with obesity face. Second, he claims American families are to blame for this epidemic, but really parents are the ones who are held responsible for their children’s eating behaviors in the first place.
Third, by enforcing children to avoid overeating will only cause mental problems associated with the tension and stress on when and how to eat their food. Fourth, parents should set an example on how they eat their food, because a child will act the same way as how they see their parents eating. Lastly, by stigmatizing the unhealthy behaviors due to obesity, in accordance to, trying not to stigmatize the person or people, really is stigmatizing the children who are suffering from being obese.
There are many variables involved in the epidemic of childhood obesity that Critser does not recognize, for example the diseases or genetics that are involved with obesity. The feasible solution Critser argues might help in the short run with a decrease in childhood obesity, but in the long run his solution will not solve the overall epidemic to end childhood obesity. To begin with, Critser never mentions the discriminating effects and rude treatment that obese people deal with the minute they step out in society.
Mary Ray Worley begins in her article “Fat and Happy: In Defense of Fat Acceptance” explaining what fat people go through day to day, and involved are all the emotions and feelings fat people go through when other people see them. If you’ve grown up in the twentieth-century American society, you probably believe that being fat is a serious personal, social, and medical liability.
Many Americans would rather die or cut off a limb than be fat, many believe that fatness is a serious health risk, and many are convinced that is a simple matter to reduce one’s body size and are so offended by body fat that they believe it is acceptable to shun fat people and make them the butt of cruel jokes. Those who are fat quickly learn to be deeply ashamed of their bodies and spend their lives trying to become what they are not and hide what can’t be hidden. Our society believes that thinness signals self-discipline and self-respect, whereas fatness signals self-contempt and lack of resolve. 66) Worley goes into depth on some of the thoughts that are running through obese peoples’ mind when going out in society. This is including all adults and children. The discrimination that obese children suffer from is long lasting detrimental effects. These feelings and emotions that are developed as a child can play a vital role in one’s self-esteem along with their confidence and how they will conduct themselves day by day. Nowhere is the article Critser talks about the discrimination an obese person has to deal with.
Critser would mention two things in his article that would affect the feelings of obese children and one of them was the feeling that obese children deal with is that “pressure causes tension” (1). The other thing was his solution he thinks that will end the epidemic of obesity, which was, to stigmatize the behavior of overeating while yet not to stigmatize the person engaged in the behavior. Critser was all wrong in thinking this would actually work around the world and not just the Westernized countries. In addition, Critser says, “No one should be stigmatized for being overweight.
But stigmatizing the unhealthful behaviors that cause obesity would conform with what we know about effective health messages” (1). He then goes on to add a false analogy with the campaigns against unprotected sex and smoking. He first is wrong when trying to link obesity with smoking. The two problems are irrelevant to each other besides the fact that both are bad for your health. His focus on unprotected sex and homosexuals in one of his analogies takes offense to anyone who is bigoted, because heterosexuals and homosexuals are the same kind of people with different interests.
People who are bigoted go onto discriminate them. That is a false analogy because what does unprotected sex and also homosexuals have to do with obesity in children. Next, Critser’s solution in ways of stigmatizing the unhealthy behaviors associated with obesity and overeating is not the overall solution to conquer this growing epidemic worldwide. The solution is one that may help slow down obesity, but his solution is such a simple solution to such a complex problem. There are many problems associated with obesity; along with there are many solutions to help conquer childhood obesity.
Critser is wrong that society can stigmatize overeating without stigmatizing the person engaging in the behavior. “Food for thought: Children’s views on the psychological aspects of childhood obesity” in Educational and Child Psychology, Debbie Mansfield and Georgina Doutre discuss the “psychological aspects of childhood obesity” along with the “children’s views” and “how to protect obese children from stigmatizing effects” (23). Children are being stigmatized for being obese.
The children are subject to “negative stereotyping and discrimination by their peers,” and “self-esteem issues, negative body image, depressive symptoms” (Braet, Calamaro and Waite, Hesketh, Koplan, Miller and Downey 24). This proves that Critser’s solution is not going to work. His solution won’t work because, when one is trying to stigmatize the behavior of overeating, then the person who is obese is also subject to the stigmatization. Furthermore, the parents also play a vital role when their child is obese. Children learn through what they see especially when they are at a young age.
The “foot soldiers against obesity” is the American family and are needed to put their children on a “dietary restraint” to avoid “gluttony” (1). According to Critser, this saying that the American family is a problem to childhood obesity but later says parents aren’t to blame. Critser uses a strawman tactic saying pressure causes tension by Diamonds. This is true in a sense, but the way Critser uses this saying is that he leaves it at that. He says no more. He doesn’t mention anything else about pressure causing tension. He just quotes Diamonds and what they have to say.
The tactic works well in his article, because this is true but it is not linked to his primary solution. “Childhood obesity could be related to the ignorance or denial of the negative consequences from an individual or family perspective” (Davidson and Birch 24). Critser may agree with this. “On the other hand, parental acceptance and lack of concern regarding weight issues can be a protective factor for the self-esteem of overweight children” (Stradmeijer 24). A study on obese children concluded that participants are “accepting attitudes and mpathy towards obese children,” obese children make their own choices over their own “destiny” (Mansfield and Doutre 27). There were also negative consequences linked to obesity. Being obese caused a lack of friends for children, more bullying occurred, limited to different sporting activities, and serious health consequences (Mansfield and Doutre 28). Parents can help their children in ways to avoid all these emotional consequences their obese children have to deal with along with the psychological effects it has. Mansfield and Doutre provide a table of children’s views of supportive mechanisms for obesity.
Some parental discipline and encouragement could be for their children to stop lounging around and do more exercise and eat more fruits and veggies instead of snacks (Mansfield and Doutre 29). A few coping strategies would be to ignore it, their personal choice, and avoidance, accordance to that children think it’s not anybody else’s life to choose who you want to be and rather skinny or fat it is what you want to be (Mansfield and Doutre 29). Critser thinks that kids don’t know much, when really they seem to have an understanding and knowing about the problems associated with obesity.
The school systems try to promote exercise to prevent obesity from occurring. It is healthy for children to make their own positive choices. Instead of stigmatizing the behavior of overeating, schools can provide a real good background to children. Moreover, Critser’s article shows weakness in some parts of the article. Critser included a Pennsylvania state university scholar Barbara Rolls that talked about a study she conducted. Her study noticed that the three years old children stopped eating when they were full no matter what the portion size was, but the five year old children devoured everything that was in front of them.
Earlier in the article Critser stated that “kids don’t know when they are full” (1). Another weakness that Critser wrote was when he mocked the experts saying that kids have the right to make bad nutritional choices. This doesn’t have much support in his paper or evidence along with Critser is comparing two different eras. “Nutrition, Health, and Schoolchildren” written by Judy Butriss states alternative dietary suggestions whether it refers to healthy snacks to the decrease of food intake in a child. the dietary suggestions include; A balanced, varied diet for the whole family, avoiding grazing and TV snacks, healthy snacks (fruits) as alternatives to sweets, chocolate, biscuits, whole food that take time to eat, and grill or boil food instead of frying” (Butriss 294). Finally, in Critser’s article he uses loaded language and unfair argumentation with words like gluttony, foot soldiers, and infantry. Critser uses the term foot soldiers in a way against obesity that we are pushing for obesity and not seem to care as much. In a way that foot soldiers can be like foot soldiers that just are taught to march and march and nothing else.
Critser sounded bias with this term. He also uses the term infantry. Infantry is referring to the American family along with the term foot soldiers. The two terms go together and act as if the American family just keeps encouraging obesity rather than preventing it. This is unfair argumentation because this is not necessarily true. Critser is being bias in the terms he uses. The last piece of loaded language Critser uses is gluttony where he uses the term twice. The term gluttony can be defined as greedy or excessive indulgence, and many children with obesity are labeled as gluttonous.
In the beginning of the essay Critser says, “needs to promulgate [. . . ] dietary restraint, something our ancestors knew simply as avoiding gluttony” (1). Critser says that no person should be stigmatized for being overweight, but his idea is to stigmatize the unhealthy behaviors associate with obesity (Critser 1). This is an unfair argumentation because Critser uses the inconsiderable word gluttony a few times and is also bias to the idea of anti-fat. This is a mistake by using the fully loaded word gluttony, because obese people have enough on their plate and don’t need any more judgments that obesity implies.
In conclusion, Critser’s simple solution to such a complex problem is just not going to work. His claims that stigmatizing the behavior of overeating due to obesity, American families cause obesity, portion control and dietary restraint needs to be enforced, and even never to put a kid on a diet seems to not be supportive enough to back his simple solution. His loaded language use of gluttony causes a problem due to the judgmental attitude it implies. Instead, this causes the many social, physical and even economical problems to rise.
When one is obese this does raise the thought of a shortened life span and risks to mental diseases, due to the seclusion, one may receive just for seeing themselves as obese. The parents and school teachers come up with ways children can cope a lot easier with being obese. For example, the ways of exercise, change the behavior in how a child will eat snacks (healthy alternatives), and the knowledge that obese children can gain without the loss of self-esteem and confidence. In the end of it all, Critser’s solution to stigmatize the behavior of overeating in a child is the complete reverse approach.
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