Nutritionist to the Stars on Assumption Overload

Oz Garcia has an article on Huffington Post this morning titled “Normal Weight: Our Definition Is Shifting.”

Oz Garcia, makes me want to bash my head into a wall.

He may be the “Nutritionist to the Stars,” but he is using his platform to hurt people, not help them.

The study uncovered an interesting trend: the more overweight the women, the more overweight their children tended to be. This goes to show that children lead by example and how important it is for parents to strive to live healthy lives so that their children can, in turn, internalize the importance of overall wellness.

Let’s unpack just this paragraph, shall we?

The article starts by describing a study where more than 200 women were asked to guess their weight and the weight of their children and estimate where they fall on the BMI chart. The study showed that the fatter a woman, the more likely she was to underestimate her own weight and her children’s weight, apparently putting them all at risk for impending implosion or something. I don’t know.

But then, it uncovered an interesting trend. Actually, I see two in that paragraph. The first is so obvious that it seems impossible that someone could reach Nutritionist to the Stars status without ever having heard that children look like their parents.

The second is that children lead by example, which I guess means that now fat kids are also responsible for their parents’ fat? Too many tantrums in the Twinkie aisle? If only those kids would eat some carrots to show their parents how wonderful occasionally eating something other than salted lard rolled in sugar can be.

More likely just bad writing. Let’s give him the benefit of the doubt that what he really meant was that children follow their parents’ example.

Here’s a news flash for you Oz Garcia: parents trying to control their kids weights through dieting doesn’t lead to an internalized importance of overall wellness. It leads to decades of hating themselves. Take it from me, that’s not a gift any kid should get from their parents.

Here’s the next paragraph:

Children cannot be expected to make good nutritional choices on their own at such a young age. The children in this study were, on average, seven to 13. During this age range, children tend to be considerably impressionable. If their parents are eating fast food at every meal, why should they be expected to make healthier choices? While it’s possible that the child will choose a different path than his or her parents, it’s not likely. Parents set the example and it is important that they become a positive authority during mealtime.

Here we have Nutritionist to the Stars validating the idea that fat people eat fast food at every meal. Where the hell does this come from? A week or two ago I was accused of the same thing by someone who should have known better. It boggles my mind that people really believe that all fat people eat fast food for every meal. Or that there are no slender people who do the same thing.

And moving on:

The concept of this skewed perception of weight is quite thought-provoking. I wasn’t at all surprised that the overweight mothers were raising overweight children, but I was surprised that many of these mothers actually found their overweight or obese child’s weight to be normal. This means that these mothers had no intention of working on helping their child obtain a healthy weight, which is downright dangerous.

Way to generalize there, Oz Garcia. These awful, horrible mothers aren’t planning on putting their 7- to 13-year-old children on diets. This is actually good news to me. It’s a sign of hope that maybe we really are having some kind of shift in thinking, that parents are less willing to ensure that they’re kids will end up hating themselves.

Want to know how messed up the children’s BMI chart is? I put in Ruby’s height and weight and the age 6 and she’s “at risk for becoming obese.” Put in her height and weight and age 9, because she’s the same size as third  graders in her school, and she’s in the normal range. What does that mean? I have no idea. Her height and weight is acceptable for a 9-year-old, but at six she needs to be on a diet? That “at risk for becoming obese” reminds me of those lovely sit downs my step-mother used to have with me that always ended with “you aren’t fat now, but if you aren’t careful you’ll end up just like your mother.”

Oz Garcia’s article ends with a little self advertising, when he tells us that all of his clients have healthy “well-functioning” children. Let’s all light a candle today for the hope that the idea that fat kids are non-functioning doesn’t stick.

In the end, our celebrity nutritionist comes across as arrogant and mean-spirited. As if there is no way that his interpretation of the facts could be wrong.

He states that people underestimating their weight means that obese people will start to think of themselves as “merely overweight.”

He advocates restrictive diets for young children, and laments the lack of them in fat families.

He assumes that everyone has the same privilege as his celebrity clients, or anyone who could afford to hire a family nutritionist.

He assumes that we all have the same access to food as his wealthy clients do.

He assumes that anyone who is fat only eats fast food (still mind boggling.)

He assumes that if a child looks like his or her mother, it’s because the mother doesn’t care enough to be a “positive authority during mealtime.”

He assumes that fat parents don’t care about their childrens’ health. How could we? We’re way too busy eating fast food.

He assumes that fatties need to be pushed and prodded into making “good decisions.” I guess we’re too stupid to have gotten the message that produce is good for us.

He says in the same article that 82 percent of the women in the study were obese or “at the very least, overweight” and that very few people are “prone to obesity,” but instead we just haven’t been taught moderation.

Dude. Have you ever heard of the billion dollar weight loss industry? Did you know that most fat people have been on every diet known to man unsuccessfully? Do you honestly believe that we haven’t been taught that if we eat less, we’d weigh more?

Guess what. Many of us are big fat fatties because we were taught that if we dieted we’d lose weight.

The saddest thing is that Huffington Post gave this man a platform. Thousands of people will read, and trust, what he has to say. This is what we’re fighting against. How do we do battle?

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Shaunta Grimes blogs about body acceptance and athleticism for everyone at Live Once, Juicy. She can also be found on Twitter.

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One Comment

  1. Posted April 13, 2011 at 10:50 am | Permalink

    I think you even missed one of the most egregious ones, which is a problem with the study first (not just his language interpreting it), but still:

    Why the hell is there no data on fathers in this study, if we’re so concerned about the well being of children? Maybe, I find myself suspecting, it’s because the word “health” is just code for “skinny – you know, because as a woman, you have no worth whatsoever unless you’re attractive, ideally in the most conventional way possible, to dudes.”

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