First, a quick thank you to everyone who responded to last month's newsletter with your Qs for my new Q&A feature. I'm working on your As for upcoming newsletters, so stay tuned. But today is more of an old-school, shameless self-promotional newsletter because... I have a new book to tell you about! Or, to be more precise, I have a new book deal and an outline and a giant stack of research to get me started. About 18 months from now it will be a book, and sometime in 2023 (I know), it will be a BOOK that you can read and hold.
So what's the book? It's called FAT KID PHOBIA: What the "War On Childhood Obesity" Gets Wrong, And How Parents Can Fix It. It will explore the very real harm caused by a 40-year public health mission gone awry. It's going to challenge a lot of what you think (and that I have thought or even still think) about weight, health, and kids. And it will give parents the tools we need to separate health and self-worth from body size goals, to educate our kids and ourselves about the harm caused by weight stigma and thin privilege, and to raise happy, healthy, body positive kids at every size.
I could not be more excited to write this book. Fat Kid Phobia is quite directly inspired by the questions, comments, and stories that readers and sources have shared with me over the last few years, as well as my own experiences as a parent. I know these are questions we're all really struggling with, and I'm excited to figure out some answers for us.
And of course I have to save the really good stuff for the book itself, but you can expect this newsletter to continue to be a place where I share what I'm learning and work out my thinking on different ideas during the reporting process. Thank you all for being here and inspiring me to keep pushing deeper down this rabbit hole. I really do believe that our national conversations about weight, food, and health are starting to change for the better — and that the conversations we have at home can help our kids navigate these questions from a place of true body autonomy.
Speaking of fatphobia and kids: In my latest New York Times Parenting column, I asked whether you should be worried about your child’s pandemic weight gain. The short answer? No.
“Instead of worrying about weight, focus on supporting kids in taking care of themselves emotionally and physically,” Anna Lutz, a dietitian in private practice in Raleigh, N.C., told me.
Weight stigma in Covid care: Also this month, I spoke to people who have been treated for Covid who have been denied food when hungry or gone unaided while climbing into an ambulance, because they happen to be in bigger bodies. A reminder: In spite of what headlines may have led people to believe, none of the existing research on Covid and weight shows that being fat leads to hospitalization, need for a ventilator, or death—it merely shows a tentative correlating relationship between weight and poorer Covid outcomes. “Nobody faults your adorable grandmother for getting Covid, but everybody faults a person at a higher body weight,” says Jeffrey Hunger, PhD, an assistant professor of social psychology at Miami University of Ohio.
You're reading Burnt Toast, Virginia Sole-Smith's bi-monthly newsletter. Virginia is a feminist writer, co-host of the Comfort Food Podcast, and author of The Eating Instinct. Comments? Questions? Email Virginia.
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