Real Talk The Paleo View

TPV Podcast, Episode 367: Weight loss for kids?

A new weight loss program targeted at children and teens was recently launched in America, hitting a nerve with Stacy and Sarah, leaving them with so much to say. On this week’s episode, learn about the research that has been done on the short-term and long-term effects of children being put on diets, what happens when we are undernourished and underfed, and what we can do to push back against this pervasive diet culture. Tune in below!

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The Paleo View (TPV), Episode 367: Weight loss for kids?

    • (0:40) Welcome

      • Hey listeners – welcome back to The Paleo View!
      • Stacy is just going to jump right in because this week’s topic has been something she has been ranting about for a few weeks now
        • Sarah looked into it after Stacy brought it up, and also agreed that a show needed to be done on this topic
        • When Sarah started to do the research on it she too got fired up
      • Stacy wants to give a little preface and introduction to those listeners that might not know what Sarah and Stacy are talking about or who might come to it from a different perspective
        • Stacy is going to talk on her own about her personal experience
        • Sarah has also dealt with the struggle with weight her whole life
        • The perspective that both Stacy and Sarah have, and what Stacy wants to focus on, is that Stacy’s weight loss journey was never about calories in – calories out
          • There were emotional issues and there were health issues
      • Today Stacy and Sarah are going to talk about weight loss for children
        • The message that Stacy wants to share is that the foundation that we set for our kids at a young age is what is the foundation for their lifetime
          • Stacy’s concern is that when we introduce something like a weight loss program for kids, not only are we dealing with all the science that Sarah is going to cover on why this can be detrimental to their health
            • But from Stacy’s perspective, this was the start of an emotional relationship with food that went the opposite of a good direction
            • Stacy did end up getting therapy for bulimia and binge eating disorder as a teenager
              • She went on diets on and off so much
              • Diets were a part of her family culture
                • Stacy doesn’t feel like they knew better back then
                • People encouraged family members to go on diets because they were thinking about their health
                • Now there is a much better understanding of health at any size, and there is more to health than just your weight
        • There is an insane amount of diet culture pervasiveness
          • To add to this blew Stacy’s mind
            • We now know that asking children to diet creates this yo-yo roller coaster for them
            • It strips away the confidence or perceived support that they might have from focusing on positive healthy activities vs. counting calories
          • When this weight loss program for kids came out, Stacy got so angry
            • She wanted to hug every single one of these children and tell them that they are wonderful just as they are
            • We need emotional support for these kids and teaching them good habits
              • Focusing on and praising the things that are really good in their life
              • And doing it with them
        • Stacy shared on her experience with being obese and why she is so passionate about this topic
        • Sarah noted that kids are more emotionally vulnerable
          • Teaching our kids that they are doing something wrong around the culture of weight significantly impacts their emotional health
        • Sarah was a robust kid, but she wasn’t overweight until her early teens
          • It became a self-fulfilling prophecy
          • There were many external influences that led to Sarah developing a binge eating disorder and eventually reaching a morbidly obese weight
            • In part, because she had an underlying health issue that was driving her weight gain and this went undiagnosed for something like 30 years
            • It felt to Sarah like nothing worked and it didn’t matter what she did
              • The things that Sarah was doing were the popular diets at the time
            • As Sarah digs into the data, she thinks that this weight loss program is not just everything wrong in supporting healthy habits in kids
              • But it goes so much beyond that because we have this culture now where 91% of American woman have dissatisfaction with their bodies
              • This is what we are doing to ourselves, and then teaching our kids
                • We are teaching them that there is something wrong with them and that they have to fix themselves
            • Diets themselves can be physiologically harmful
              • It is not just the psychological effects
            • Sarah thinks that this is a symptom of a cultural phenomenon that is corrosive
              • We put these underweight body types on this pedestal of being the height of beauty
              • When what is healthy is actually heavier than this
              • We then shame everybody else
              • We shame people if they are not underweight
            • This was eyeopening to make Sarah think about how she talks to herself and how she treats herself
      • Sarah wants to emphasize that the fixation in our community on weight instead of health is wrong
        • Sarah wants every one of The Paleo View listeners to look at your actions and self-talk and really think about it as objectively as you can
        • How can we together as a community move forward to address every aspect of this
        • What are we teaching our children about how to navigate healthy choices in life based on how we talk to ourselves
      • Stacy encourages you, the next time you talk to yourself – if you were saying that to your child, mother, or best friend would you say it the same way that you talk to yourself?
        • You can both accept yourself and love yourself and respect yourself as you are today
        • AND make healthier habits and changes
          • However, the guilt and shame associated with the negative self-talk and mindset is so pervasive that it causes self-destructive habits when you don’t achieve perfection
          • It begets this negative cycle telling yourself that you are a worse person when you don’t achieve an appearance
        • Stacy has challenged herself over the last year to no longer acknowledge people’s bodies
          • If she comments on appearance, she makes it about how happy someone looks or how healthy they look
            • Words that don’t associate with emptiness
          • This has been a habit she has had to shape
      • As Stacy and Sarah jump into the rest of the show, Stacy encourages you to think positively about the changes you can make in the future and feel good about it
        • This is the kind of thought process that will help you achieve your goal
        • If you get caught up in reflecting back and thinking negatively, you will get sucked up in a black hole
    • (19:50) The Research on Diets Longterm Effects

      • Sarah wants to go through some data to reinforce the importance of taking some time and revisiting these periods of self-reflection when it comes to how each one of us in contributing to diet culture
      • It has been known in the medical literature for about 20 years that going on a diet as an adolescent dramatically increases the risk of developing an eating disorder
        • This was all launched by this well-done study from 1999 where they looked at 2,000 teenagers and did a whole pile of medical analysis
          • They looked at:
            • Lifestyle factors
            • Surveys to look at mental health
            • Starting weight
            • Activity levels
            • Gender
          • They discovered that the single biggest predictor of an eating disorder (looking at just anorexia and bulimia):
            • In the kids who were on a severe diet, they were 18x more likely to develop an eating disorder
            • In the kids who were on a moderate diet, they were 5x more likely to develop an eating disorder
          • Things that didn’t affect the chances of developing an eating disorder:
            • How active the kids were
            • What their starting BMI was
      • There have been a variety of follow up studies that have confirmed these results
        • They have added binge eating disorder and obesity
      • There was a 2016 study published in the American Academy of Pediatrics that was like a review paper showing that dieting (defined as caloric restriction with the goal of weight loss) was not only a risk factor for developing eating disorders but it doubled the risk of obesity
        • Often the diets that these kids and teens are going on are not nutrient-dense
        • It is not just calorically restricting, it is nutrient restricting
          • Even on some of the more forward-thinking diet plans that have unlimited vegetables, are not actually teaching people how to eat enough nutrients
      • We are seeing that the psychological damage is almost certainly from that cycle of body shame, the stigma that is associated with it, and the anxiety, stress, and depression
      • Sarah now talks a lot about healthy weight loss in her workshop and educational resources
        • She has an online course that is very much about health goal setting and addressing habits to normalize weight in a healthy way
        • It ditches this mentality of losing a certain amount of weight for a life event
      • One of the reasons that weight-loss maintenance is so challenging (especially the higher the caloric restriction), your hunger hormones increase
        • Your metabolism decreases, and your hunger increases
        • Most of these diets are not rich enough in protein to maintain lean muscle mass
        • It is essentially a recipe for weight gain
        • Unless you approach this in the right way, which is:
          • Healthy habit development
            • Eat more vegetables
            • Get more sleep
            • Live an active lifestyle
            • Manage your stress
            • Make sure you are eating enough protein
          • These habits will allow you to normalize weight and keep it off
          • It is very much about healthy choices and not necessarily a particular goal
      • What is happening in these kids the diets that they are going on is setting them up to fail and to yo-yo
        • They are very goal-driven with an emphasis on, ‘the faster the better’
        • They are not focused on a nutrient-rich approach
        • Losing weight is inflammatory and increases oxidative stress
      • Weight loss is a process that requires an education
        • The problem with these weight loss centers is that they said you up to yo-yo
          • There is this assumption that if you don’t lose weight fast enough you won’t stick to it
          • But if your approach is not making you healthier, it is hard to stick to
          • This process magnifies shame
            • You end up in both a physiological and psychological cycle
              • The physiological cycle is changing body composition in a way that is increasing the risk of health problems with every cycle
              • The psychological cycle is a cycle of shame and failure and reward
                • It magnifies the shame when you cannot stick to this thing that you physiologically set yourself up to not be able to follow
      • Sarah feels strongly about not distilling diet or lifestyle choices to yes’s and no’s – the things to do and the things to not do
        • Not to put this stigma on no foods
        • And to not express things so simplistically that you cannot understand the why behind the choice
      • Kids do not understand things like muscle weighing more than fat or how hormones and metabolism play into things
        • So think about the impact to a child who is being publically weighed
        • When we introduce these ideas to kids they see it more simplistically
      • The more that we can learn the lingo, the science and the information (the why and the how), so that we can help our children understand it, the more we can combat diet culture within our households and communities
      • Nutrient deficiencies are one of the strongest links to chronic disease risks
        • It turns out when you eat a nutrient-rich diet it supports the reduced risk of disease, which is really the thing that matters
          • Not if you fit into those jeans or look good in a bikini
          • We have trained ourselves to not look for the visual cues of health
            • Thick, shiny hair
            • Glowing skin
            • A giant smile
            • Energy
            • Muscle
      • Sarah says that body composition, as opposed to your weight on the scale, is very important
        • It is far more important how much muscle we have, as opposed to fat
      • This paper that looked at diet and risk for eating disorders showed that exercise did not increase the risk of eating disorders
        • So just being active is a super healthy lifestyle choice that improves our health in a number of ways
        • If we can separate activity away from weight loss goals and diet mentality, it is a super healthy thing to do
      • Metrics of health, we can also look at inflammatory markers in the blood, lipid panels, mood, energy levels
        • These are far more important things for us to evaluate both in ourselves and in our kids
          • Are our kids getting enough sleep?
          • Are they active?
          • Do they have energy throughout the day?
      • People can be underweight, overweight, and average weight and have tons of health issues
    • (42:28) The Impact Beyond the Scale

      • For Stacy, she never saw anybody who looked like her in her early life
        • Healthy at any size wasn’t an actual thing
        • It didn’t make her feel good to not see anyone who looked like her in pop culture
          • Which only further enforced this idea that she needed to be thin to fit the ideal
            • Thin was healthy and that was the marker of health Stacy was taught to work towards
      • Now there is so much more information than there use to be
        • Stacy has such hope that the next generation will have this information and will go back to the way that their grandparents lived
          • Not just eating whole, nutrient-dense, low-inflammatory foods, but also using less plastic and all the other things that go into health
        • If where we are going is putting children on weight loss programs and not talking about the things that really matter and helping them understand the emotional and physical impacts of nutrient and caloric restriction, then we are doomed
        • Stacy says we have to be change agents
      • One of the things that Sarah finds really interesting is what it is doing to our epigenetics to go on these weight loss programs
        • There is data from the last 10-15 years showing that under-nutrition is linked to a dramatic list of negative health consequences that transcends generations
          • One of the most interesting studies is the Dutch health study that looked at times of famine and how those impacted the health of the people depending on how they were and the health of their children, and now their grandchildren
            • The kids who were the same age as those who these weight loss programs are targeting (8 to 17) were a particularly sensitive group
              • Women who were between 10 and 17 at the start of the famine had later in their life a 38% increased risk of coronary heart disease
              • It does damage our body to have severe caloric restriction
                • It increases our risk of some cancer, type-2 diabetes, obesity, immune suppression, mental health disorders, and more
              • The children of these women are shorter
              • The study is now showing the increased rate of diseases through turning on these adaptations genes so your body is trying to survive a time of famine and this is turning some genes off and some genes on
                • And they are seeing that this is inherited
        • We need to fix this for our children’s generation
          • We can actually point to genetic changes as a result of dieting that can then be passed on to their children that is then going to increase their risk of chronic disease
            • This is the opposite of health
      • While Sarah was talking, Stacy had a moment of guilt thinking about her history, but then she snapped herself out of it and reminded herself to not go into backward thinking
        • She is instead thinking about all the things that she is doing now to benefit her boys so that they can have a better future
    • (51:25) Closing Thoughts

      • What are the positive things we can do to not just address how we talk to ourselves, but really help our kids develop those healthy habits that will support a healthy weight (whatever that is for them) and lifelong health?
        • The first one that Stacy wants to mention is that we have to live and lead by example
          • And genuinely believe it
          • Think about your wording and mentality around habits
            • Build fun into healthy habits
            • Bring your kids into the kitchen to cook with you
        • Sarah points out the importance of gathering for family meals
          • This bonding translates to other healthy habits
        • Focus on higher vegetable consumption
        • Creating healthy sleep habits
        • Outside play
      • When we focus on these things as the healthy habits that we work on as a family, we are setting the stage for naturally achieving a healthy weight
        • We are also naturally achieving health
      • Remember, healthy and thin does not mean the same thing
        • These two things can go together, but they don’t always
        • If you are going to choose one or the other, Sarah highly recommends choosing healthy
      • Stacy thinks this will provide structure for an easy way to talk to children about healthy and habits
        • Stacy shared on how Matt and Stacy worked together to collaboratively work on their healthy habits and their health groove
          • She shared insight into how we approach conversations and our word choices can make a huge difference
      • Sarah shared on how her mental health plays a role on her physical health
        • She has to be really mindful about self-destructive, self-talk
          • Also to let go of judgment and guilt
      • Stacy challenges herself to only focus on the things she really likes about herself to shift that negative mindset
        • Every time she thinks negatively about herself, she then comes up with two things she likes about herself
        • This was an activity they did with the kids while traveling this summer as well
      • We all deserve to focus on the good things and to be complimented and to compliment others
        • The more we do it to others, the more natural it will be to do it to yourself
      • Sarah wants to reiterate that there is no part of this conversation that is helped by blame, guilt, or remorse
        • This is about moving forward and embracing these health journies as a family-focused on healthy habits and the bonding that comes out of these experiences
      • Stacy sent all her love to the audience
        • Please share this episode with your community and those who you think would benefit from this information
        • Please also leave a review, which helps others see this show in their podcast feeds
        • Please also share it on your social media channels to help get this information to others
      • Thank you so much for your support!
        • Help others find these shows in a way that can help heal themselves and potentially heal their families
        • Stacy would love to hear from at least one parent how this episode shifted their thoughts and actions around how to help their family
      • Thanks again for listening – Stacy and Sarah will be back next week!

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