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Vogue Article Sparks Debate on Placing Children on Weight-Loss Diets

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A Vogue columnist who placed her 7 year old daughter on a strict diet has sparked a debate on how parents should react when their child is overweight.

Dara-Lynn Weiss tells how her daughter Bea had come home from school in tears because another child had called her “fat”.

Dara-Lynn reacted by enrolling her daughter in a “Red Light, Green Light” diet program in order to help her lose the weight. The mother was concerned for Bea’s overall health, as well as the emotional impact of being an obese child.

In her magazine column, Dara-Lynn describes some of the tactics she adopted in order to ensure that Bea stuck to the weight loss program. These strategies included banning her daughter from participating in pizza day at school and publicly criticizing Bea when she admitted to having food cravings.

The result of the strict weight-loss program was a drop in Bea’s weight of 16 lbs in one year.

However, many experts disagree with Dara-Lynn’s methods, although most are sympathetic to the reasoning behind the strict tactics. Dr. Joanna Dolgoff who operates the “Red Light, Green Light” diet program cautions that the diet system is designed to empower kids to make healthy eating choices. She notes that Dara-Lynn did not attend all the counseling sessions that are recommended in the program.

Experts stress that the emotional health of children is extremely important. Emotional problems can arise if a child thinks they have been bad for eating a forbidden food item. Bea’s rapid weight loss also has some professionals concerned. A gradual weight maintenance plan which takes into account that the child is also expected to grow in height is usually recommended over strict weight-loss programs.

Dara-Lynn writes that the weight issue does appear to have impacted her daughter emotionally. She wonders whether or not her daughter will be able to maintain her weight loss, and admits that the strict method was difficult for them both.

Source: CBS News

Photo: Kelly Hogaboom. Wikimedia commons. No endorsement implied.