Category Archives: child obesity

Obese Cleveland Heights Boy Placed in Foster Care

Awhile ago I wrote a blog regarding the push to place severely overweight children in foster care if their parents were either unwilling or unable to get their child’s weight under control. Well, the precedent has been set; according to the Cleveland Plain Dealer an 8-year old boy from Cleveland Heights was removed from his home and placed in foster care last month after case workers claimed that his mother wasn’t doing what she should be to control his obesity.

This third-grade boy first came to the attention of county workers in early 2010, when his mother took him to the hospital because he was having breathing problems. He was diagnosed with sleep apnea, a condition which can be related to weight, and he was given the breathing machine. At this time, social workers began to keep an eye on him under what the county calls protective supervision.

And for awhile, there was an improvement; the boy did lose weight, but recently he began rapidly gaining it back. The boy’s mother stated that other children and a sibling might be giving him extra food, but she said she tried to stop this and explained to him that he could only eat certain foods. She said she was also trying to follow doctors’ recommendations by getting him a bicycle and encouraging him to get exercise.

Yet, in spite of her efforts, her son weighs over 200 pounds and is considered at risk for developing diseases such as diabetes and hypertension. Even though Cuyahoga County doesn’t have a specific policy for dealing with obese children, it removed the boy from his home. According to Mary Louise Madigan, a spokeswoman for the Department of Children and Family Services, medical neglect prompted his removal.

Madigan stated, “This child’s problem was so severe that we had to take custody.” She claimed that the boy’s weight gain was caused by his environment, and stated that the mother was not following the orders she had received from his doctor, a claim which the mother denies.

The mother’s lawyers feel the county has overreached in this case when they argued that medical conditions that the boy is at risk of developing, but doesn’t have at this time, can be classified as imminent danger to his health. Further, they question whether Children and Family Services considered the emotional impact this boy would suffer by being taken from his family, friends, and school.

Juvenile Public Defender Sam Amata said, “I think we would concede that some intervention is appropriate. But what risk became imminent? When did it become an immediate problem?”

Amata argued the fairness of this decision, when he has watched children being left in homes with parents who have severe drug problems or who have beaten their children, and yet Children and Family Services has determined that the child is not in immediate danger. He further cited the fact that the boy was an honor roll student who participated in school activities. Additionally, his medical records reveal that the only medical problem the boy currently has is sleep apnea, a condition which is being treated.

The boy’s mother told the Plain Dealer, “They are trying to make it seem like I am unfit, like I don’t love my child. Of course I love him. Of course I want him to lose weight. It’s a lifestyle change, and they are trying to make it seem like I am not embracing that. It is very hard, but I am trying.”

She said that her son was taken from his school on October 19 by social workers and placed in a foster home. She is only allowed to see him once a week for two hours. A trial to determine what is in the boy’s best interests will take place next month, on the boy’s 9th birthday.

This national debate regarding the legality of stepping in when parents fail to deal with their child’s weight problems was spurred earlier this year by Dr. David Ludwig, a Harvard University professor and expert in pediatric obesity, who stated, “In severe instances of childhood obesity, removal from the home may be justifiable, from a legal standpoint, because of imminent health risks and the parents’ chronic failure to address medical problems.”

But there are others, like Arthur Caplan, a professor of bioethics and medical ethics at the University of Pennsylvania, who says that before taking this approach, broader public-policy issues need to be explored.

“A 218-pound 8-year-old is a time bomb,” he acknowledged. “But the government cannot raise these children. A third of kids are fat. We aren’t going to move them all to foster care. We can’t afford it, and I’m not sure there are enough foster parents to do it. ”

Additionally, he brings up legitimate concerns that families with the least resources, which are quite often minorities, will be the ones whose children will most likely be removed from their homes.

Caplan stated, “It’s completely hypocritical, or to put it another way, a schizophrenic stance. It’s OK to threaten to take a kid away or charge someone more for insurance. But it’s also OK to advertise unhealthy food and put toys in kids’ meals.”

County workers for this young boy in Cleveland Heights believe that removing him from his family, at least temporarily, might help him, stating that he has already lost a few pounds.

I can’t help but wonder if his weight loss has more to do with missing his family and being traumatized by the separation than anything the foster parents have done to monitor his weight. Especially since the mother’s lawyers have been told that the foster mother who has the boy going to school in a neighboring suburb now, is having a tough time getting him to all of his appointments. Amata said that children services was even discussing the possibility of getting the foster mother additional help or placing the boy in a new foster home with a personal trainer.

What a slap in the face to this mother! They removed her son because she couldn’t resolve her son’s weight issue on her own, but when it is apparent that the foster family isn’t being successful either, they offer them additional resources. Why weren’t those resources offered to the mother allowing her to keep her son where he wants to be?

Amata agreed, saying, “I wonder why they didn’t offer the mother that kind of extra help.”

Is this another example of too much control by government agencies? How can this case possibly warrant the removal of a child from his home when more imminently dangerous situations do not? And how does the government plan to provide the resources to remove other obese children like this young boy from their homes?

I’d love to hear your input on this one because this is a powder keg. Do you agree with the decision made by the Department of Children and Family Services, or is this overreaching?

Let’s hear from you.

High School Students Compete to Design Better Lunches

Currently a delicious competition is taking place in six cities across the United States; a competition which pits high school students against each other to judge who can serve up the healthiest lunch options to their fellow students.

In this competition, called Cooking Up Change, students from public high schools with vocational culinary programs in Chicago: Denver; Jacksonville, Florida; St. Louis; Washington, D.C.; and Winston-Salem will compete in teams of six to produce the tastiest, healthiest lunch to serve to the students in their school. Each team, however, can only spend about $1 per lunch, and to make it even more challenging, they have to order all of their ingredients from their school system’s food supplier.

Rochelle Davis is the founder of Healthy Schools Campaign which is a nonprofit organization with a two-fold goal: to make healthier school lunches and to create a safer school environment. Of the students who compete, she explained, “They use and develop a lot of skills. They learn to work with a team, prepare and plan a menu idea, and [test] their food. They have to get a nutritional analysis done, and present their meal to culinary professionals.”

The team that wins from each of the six cities will compete against each other in the spring at the U.S. Department of Education building in Washington, D.C.

Dora Marron, who is a senior at North Grand High School in Chicago, says that her classmates get excited about school lunches as a result of this program. “A lot of us are not interested in the food that they serve us; in this competition we can give them an idea of what we want. Hopefully, we win, and they’ll serve our food to us.”

In Chicago, the program is run out of 17 public schools which have vocational culinary programs. And many of the students from Marron’s team last year were inspired to go to culinary school after this competition, a goal that Marron shares as well.

She explained that this competition is excellent experience for potential culinary majors who get the opportunity, not only to have their food judged by professionals, but also, “I get to understand what they want from us, they give us honest opinions-if it’s so-so, they’ll tell us,” Marron explained.

She said that it is similar to being on the Food Network. “When we do our presentation, we have to have a sense of professionalism, speak correctly and clearly, and we have to explain exactly what we’ve made.”

And Davis emphasized the importance of the program in getting students to start thinking more carefully about making healthier choices in their food selection. It also puts the focus on nutrition in poorer communities where, surprisingly, childhood obesity rates are so much higher. Davis explains, “It’s not logical that the same group of kids [living in poverty] would be overweight. But fresh and healthier foods are more expensive and not available in those communities. Making sure school meals are healthy and teaching kids about health and wellness are of critical importance.”

Congress has increased the funding of school lunches by six cents a lunch, and of course, Michelle Obama has tackled the issues of healthier school lunches and reducing child obesity in our nation. But most schools don’t have the trained personnel or the facilities to do what needs to be done to truly improve school lunches. And Davis points out that six cents per lunch is not nearly enough to improve school lunches nationwide.

Most communities would probably be astounded by what qualifies in many of our school cafeterias as healthy and nutritious food. But with districts hurting financially, how can they be expected to come up with the additional money required to make any significant improvements in school lunches?

And what happens in districts like ours, where we have satellite kitchens? Our food is cooked elsewhere and brought to our school where it is kept warm before children buy it. As a result, it is far easier for cooks to prepare fast foods or have pizza sent in from a local pizza place than to cook an actual meal somewhere else, transport it to another kitchen, and have it taste fresh and appetizing for that day’s lunch. And kids tend to fill up on the breads and rolls, as well as the snacks which they are able to purchase for an additional charge. (Kind of defeats the purpose of the healthy lunch, right?)

I love the concept of this competition, but we have never seen the results of the novel foods concocted in previous competitions in our school. Why isn’t the winning lunch being adopted in schools across the nation after the competition is over? Shouldn’t that be the goal if we are truly trying to change how our nation’s students are eating?

Now, that would make this a competition we could whole-heartedly sink our teeth into!

Children’s Book, Maggie Goes on a Diet, Facing Criticism

In "Maggie Goes on a Diet," the main character is a bullied, overweight girl who decides to lose weight, and critics are worried it's giving young readers the wrong idea about dieting.

A controversial new book is slated to hit the bookstores in October, but it already has parents up in arms over what they perceive to be its negative messages for kids.

Paul Kramer is the author of the children’s book called Maggie Goes on a Diet; a book about an overweight 14-year old who is bullied by other kids who call her “chubby” and “fatty.” Maggie decides to do something to lose weight, but she does so in a healthy way. Rather than starve herself, she begins to eat “healthy and nutritious” foods, eats less junk food allowing herself a “normal-sized treat” once a week, exercises every day, and even joins the soccer team.

So far, it sounds fairly innocuous, right? Unfortunately, Kramer begins to send a potentially problematic message when his book, written in rhyme, proclaims the results of Maggie’s efforts. The book states, “Losing the weight was not only good for Maggie’s health, Maggie was so much happier and was also very proud of herself,” and “More and more people were beginning to know Maggie by name. Playing soccer gave Maggie popularity and fame.”

So, what is causing the huge ruckus over this book? First, the title is an issue in and of itself for many parents. Many parents are concerned with the suggestion that children should go on diets, as the title seems to suggest. They argue that girls are already so susceptible to obsessing about their weight due to our culture’s focus on thin, model-like bodies.

Adrienne Ressler from Ft. Lauderdale, Florida commented, “The idea of this book makes me want to either cry or scream — actually both. It’s bad enough that the messages and images in the culture have co-opted most women into loathing their bodies, but targeting the insecurities of young girls, vulnerable to the risk of developing an eating disorder, borders on promoting high risk behaviors and attitudes that are destructive both physically and psychologically. Please take this book off the market.”

On GMA, Kramer was asked why he had to include the word “diet” in the title because it sends the wrong message. He basically said that if the title was Maggie Eats Healthy it would probably be overlooked. Probably the wrong answer for someone who, according to his own statements, is advocated exactly that; eating healthy and exercising.

This brings up another problem people have with the book: Why did he make the main character a girl rather than a boy? Cathleen Connors, the author of HerBadMother.com told The Daily Caller, “It’s so interesting that he didn’t write it about a boy, and that he uses girl-body-image stereotypes to make his point-young girl dreaming about fitting into nice jeans, etc.”

When girls are far more likely to develop eating disorders such as anorexia or bulimia, it seems irresponsible to target girls in his story.

Another problem with this book is that while Maggie is supposed to be a 14-year old girl, the actual reading level of the book is much lower than 14. Amazon places the reading level between ages 4 and 8, while Barnes & Noble places it between 6 and 12. Many who have posted irate comments argue that little girls shouldn’t even know what a diet is, and they certainly shouldn’t be encouraged by a book to go on one.

In an interview on Fox News, Kramer defended the accusation that his book is aimed at younger children. He said, “I’m not advocating, never did, that any child should go on a diet. First of all, this is a change of lifestyle. This is not meant to be to go on a diet.”

Yet, a few seconds later, he admitted that Maggie did go on a diet just as the title claims.

Yet another problem with the book is its indifference and implied acceptance of the bullying that Maggie experiences. At no point in the story do the bullies face consequences for their actions or show remorse for what they put Maggie through. It leaves a bad taste in my mouth because it seems to tell young people that if you don’t want to be bullied anymore, you need to change what is different about you rather than be accepted for who you are.

Wrong, wrong, wrong! This negates all the anti-bullying messages out there as it shifts the work from the bully to the victim. This book would have been far more powerful, as far as I am concerned, if through a series of events, the bullies had taken responsibility for their actions and learned to see the things about Maggie that make her special, instead of only seeing her as chubby.

Isn’t that the real lesson we want our kids to be learning; that in spite of our differences, we are all worthy of respect and fair treatment? This book muddies that simple message up terribly.

Which leads me to the last big problem with this book. This book has been criticized because it sends the message that being thin will make you happy, will make kids accept you, and will make you popular. Kramer took issue with this criticism saying, “If one is obese, and one loses a bunch of weight, and one becomes fit, I think the rewards of just accomplishing that is good enough.”

But that isn’t the implication in the story; the book says, “More and more people were beginning to know Maggie by name. Playing soccer gave Maggie popularity and fame.” Now, I’m sorry, but any child reading this book, especially a child from 6 to 12-years old, is going to hear the implied message that Maggie became popular and famous because she lost a bunch of weight! I don’t care how Kramer tries to spin this; the message is very clear.

The only positive aspect of this book is its suggestion for healthy eating habits combined with exercise. If the author had written a book that showed how these two healthy habits made a child healthier, most importantly, and also thinner, and that they developed these habits because they wanted to be healthier, I think parents would have praised him for his book. But this message gets lost amidst all of the other disastrous messages.

I am not advocating boycotting this book when it comes out in October, and I don’t think Paul Kramer intentionally wrote a book to get young girls to diet or to make them feel worse about themselves. But I do feel that his choice of character, his unresolved bullying storyline, the genre he chose and its readability level, and the messages this book screams out to young girls are extremely unfortunate.

Would I want my daughter to read this book at a young age? Absolutely not! Would I encourage you to let your daughters read this book? No way! Even if you are reading it with them and trying to undo the implied messages along the way, I fear that girls will only hear the message that Kramer hammered home: You will not be popular or happy if you are overweight, so you’d better go on a diet, girls!

In my opinion, Maggie Goes on a Diet is an unfortunate book with some dangerous messages. But what do you think? Check it out through this link, and let us know how you feel about it.

NAAFA Advocates Want Anti-Bullying Bill to Protect Overweight Kids

Boy, I don’t know about this one. I definitely would love some feedback on the latest report regarding additions some want added to the Safe Schools Improvement Act.

The Safe Schools Improvement Act would require all districts and schools that receive federal funding to implement codes of conduct which prohibit bullying and harassment, according to the bill’s co-sponsor, Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pennsylvania. Additionally, the law would require each state to compile data on cases of bullying and harassment in their schools and report that information to the U.S. Department of Education. 

An advocacy group called the National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance  (NAAFA) contests that overweight children face significant harassment and bullying at school, therefore, they are asking lawmakers drafting the Safe School Improvement Act to list other characteristics students are bullied for rather than just race, religion, sexual orientation, and nationality in this bill.

This group wants to discourage children being bullied because they are heavier or shorter than their peers, and they feel that these characteristics need to be specifically spelled out in order to accomplish that goal.

Jason Docherty, an association board member explained, “One in six children are being bullied. Eighty-five percent of those bullying cases are children of size or with visible handicaps. So a federal law that does not protect those children is a federal law without teeth.”

National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance spokeswoman Peggy Howell says people of all ages face bias.

Peggy Howell, the spokeswoman for the NAAFA explained yesterday that while this group founded in 1969, has traditionally fought to end bias against overweight adults, “now we are talking about people of all ages.”

In her statement, she criticized first lady Michelle Obama for launching her Let’s Move campaign which emphasizes weight loss among children.

“When our first lady said we have to wipe out obesity in one generation, she essentially gave permission to everyone to condemn the children with higher body weight,” Howell said. “The perpetrators feel justified in their actions because, after all, the first lady said these kids have got to go.”

She went on to say that “this is one of the consequences of focusing on reducing body size, as opposed to improving health,” although she acknowledged that she didn’t believe that Michelle Obama meant any harm by her campaign.

So, the NAAFA group plans to lobby lawmakers and their staff members on Capitol Hill to persuade them to add physical characteristics to the Safe Schools Improvement Act as it works its way through Congress.

First, I am astounded that Howell turned Michelle Obama’s campaign into one that “condemns” overweight kids and “justifies” the bullying of these children. And certainly at no time did the first lady say “these kids have got to go.” We most certainly have a problem with obesity in children, and it is a physical health concern. These children are more inclined to face diabetes and other serious health issues at a very young age.

Michelle Obama has taken on the Let’s Move campaign because kids in general are more sedentary than they were in the past, and many of them do not eat well. Just because there are kids who are obese does not mean they have to remain obese. Through exercise and proper diets, most of these kids can reduce their body weight and their risk of serious health problems. Why wouldn’t Howell support this movement which will ultimately improve their life style as well as their self-esteem?

Second, please do not misunderstand what I am going to say here because I do realize that students are bullied for being overweight. I’ve seen it, and I’ve dealt with it in my classroom. It is wrong, just as bullying for any reason is wrong.

But here is my question: Where do you draw the line in your list of characteristics to include in this policy? If you say overweight, you’d better say thin. If you say short, you’d better say tall. What about big feet, big noses, and big ears? Don’t forget freckles, warts, pimples, and moles. Oh, wait; what about frizzy or curly hair? And there are always kids who wear glasses or hearing aids. What about kids who get teased because of the clothes they wear, the music they like, the books they read? And, I almost forgot; we’d better include kids who read too fast or the ones who read too slow. Then there’s always…

I think I’ve made my point. If legislators give in to this group’s demands, they’d better be ready to be inundated by all kinds of advocates out there wanting their own sensitive issue included in the wording of the law.

In my opinion, this is a pointless, waste of time and will only serve to slow down the passage of this law. Here’s the thing: bullying is bullying, whatever the reason. We know it when we see it, and we don’t need to list every physical characteristic or quality to deal with it.

So, how about a compromise? What if the Safe Schools Improvement Act includes additional wording, such as “physical characteristics and physical handicaps” along with race, religion, sexual orientation, and nationality? Would that satisfy everyone?

Sometimes less is best.

Weigh in on Whether Parents Should Lose Custody of Obese Children

childobese

There’s a lot of debate right now, in fact I heard it talked about on the news just last night, of taking extremely obese children away from their parents. It’s actually happened a few times in the U.S., and with obesity rising in our country, some are seriously suggesting this as a way of protecting obese children.

Dr. David Ludwig, who works at Harvard-affiliated Children’s Hospital as an obesity specialist, wrote an article that appeared in Wednesday’s Journal of the American Medical Association stating that in some cases it is more ethical to put obese children in foster care than to perform surgery to correct their obesity problem. He explained that weight-loss surgery for severely obese teens hasn’t been used for long, and it could have serious and sometimes life-threatening complications.

“We don’t know the long-term safety and effectiveness of these procedures done at an early age,” Ludwig said.

In the article, which Ludwig wrote with lawyer and researcher at Harvard’s School of Public Health’s Lindsey Murtagh, he explains that while studies show about 2 million U.S. children are considered extremely obese, most of these aren’t in imminent danger. But he went on to explain that there are obesity-related conditions such as breathing difficulties, liver problems, and Type 2 diabetes that can kill these obese children by age 30.

It is because of these extreme cases that Ludwig recommends considering state intervention, which would include education, parent training, and temporary protective custody. In the article, he emphasized that the purpose behind removing kids from their homes isn’t to blame parents but to get them the help that they need but, for whatever reason, aren’t providing. According to Ludwig, the goal behind state intervention is to support everyone in the family and to get the child back with their family as soon as possible,

But Art Caplan, a University of Pennsylvania bioethicist, said, “If you’re going to change a child’s weight, you’re going to have to change all of them.” He explained that many outside factors over which parents have no control can contribute to child obesity, such as advertising, marketing, peer pressure, and bullying.

Ludwig told of a 3-year old girl who was brought to his obesity clinic several years ago weighing 90 pounds. The girl’s parents had physical disabilities, were poor, and confessed they were having problems controlling their daughter’s weight. When she turned 12 last year, her weight had reached 400 pounds, and she had developed cholesterol problems, high blood pressure, sleep apnea, and diabetes.

“Out of medical concern, the state placed this girl in foster care, where she simply received three balanced meals a day and a snack or two and moderate physical activity,” Ludwig said. A year later, she had lost 130 pounds. Her diabetes and sleep apnea cleared up, although she was still obese and still in foster care.

So, in other rare instances where obese children have been removed from their homes, how has it worked out?

Well, let me tell you about Jerri Gray from Greenville, South Carolina. She is a single mom who lost custody 2 years ago of her 14-year old son who weighed 555 pounds. “I was always working two jobs so we wouldn’t end up living in ghettos,” Gray said. Jerri’s sister got custody of her son.

She said authorities don’t understand the challenges families have trying to control their children’s obesity. Because of two jobs, she resorted to buying fast food, since there wasn’t time to cook. (So, I know what you’re thinking: she could have saved some of that hard-earned money if she wasn’t buying fast food all the time, right? But haven’t you resorted to fast food when time is tight?) Anyway, she asked her son’s doctors for help controlling her son’s appetite, but they accused her of neglect.

The good news is that Jerri’s sister has more money and is better equipped to help him with his special diet and exercise. As a result, he has lost more than 200 pounds.

The bad news is that a family has been torn apart. “Even though good has come out of this as far as him losing weight, he told me just last week, `Mommy, I want to be back with you so bad.’ They’ve done damage by pulling us apart,” Gray said.

 

Is there a better way? Well, Stormy Bradley’s daughter has hit on one. Stormy is a mother from Atlanta whose 14-year old daughter, Maya, is overweight. But Maya decided to do something about it, so she joined the “Stop Childhood Obesity” campaign, an advocacy group out of Georgia.

Stormy, who supports her daughter, said she feels sympathy for these families who may face legal action due to their child’s obesity. She understands only to clearly how much healthier food costs and how hard it is to monitor kids’ weight, especially when they are teens and don’t want to be controlled by their parents. Stormy said that taking kids away from their parents “definitely seems too extreme.”

“There’s a stigma with state intervention. We just have to do it with caution and humility and make sure we really can say that our interventions are going to do more good than harm,” said Dr. Lainie Ross who is a medical ethicist at the University of Chicago.

Having tutored children for several years who were in the foster care system, I know how damaged they are when they are pulled from their families, even when the homes they are pulled from are highly dysfunctional. Each one of these kids just wanted to go back home with their parent or parents. It often astounded me because most of them were in far safer and emotionally more stable conditions in their foster homes, but they still were desperate to be reunited with their parents. These were cases of neglect or outright abuse, and they still wanted to go home.

Let me start out by saying that I agree that many parents need to do a better job feeding their children healthy foods, cutting back on sugary and fatty snacks, and getting them involved in physical activities. But to pull kids away from their homes because they are obese, in my opinion, would be a travesty, unless the excessive eating is linked to abusive behavior on the part of the parent or parents. This report is only addressing the child’s physical well-being, while ignoring the emotional damage ripping kids away from their parents would cause. I don’t know what the alternative is but this is a terrible option which will lead to devastating loss for these children.

Aside from that, does this sound a little frightening to you? What will doctors decide is the next reason to take children from their parents? This is a slippery slope which could lead to way too much control by state authorities.

While I understand the motivation behind this proposal, I am ethically opposed to this suggestion. What do you think? Speak up, because this sounds suspiciously like the state trying to control how we raise our children. Oh, I know, it’s feeding them healthy foods now, but what will it be tomorrow? Food for thought…

Beautiful Six-Year Old Writes Book About Bullying

Another uplifting story about bullying caught my eye today. It is the wonderful tale of a 6-year old girl who is refusing to let bullies control her life.

LaNiyaha Bailey is a young girl who is overweight due to a medical condition and because of that, she has been bullied on a regular basis since attending preK and day care. Her mother, Latoya White, said that her daughter would come home from preschool crying because she was being called elephant girl and fatty pants by other students. As a result, she reached a point where she didn’t want to go back to school, so Latoya says she contacted the supervisor of the day care center telling her what was happening, but the situation wasn’t really handled, and eventually she moved her to a different day care center.

LaNiyaha wanted to help other kids like herself and to teach those who tease and bully others that bullying isn’t cool, so she and her mother worked together to write a book called Not Fat Because I Wanna Be. The book explains some of the situations that LaNiyaha faced and how they made her feel. She also tells how her mother helped her through some of the rough times.

Here are two excerpts from the book to give you an idea of how precious this book is. Remember, this is a 6-year old.

“I always tried to hold back my tears but they came anyway. ‘BJ called me a big-fat elephant girl.’
I sobbed, ‘And they all call me fatty pants.’
My mom would hug me tight and say, ‘Don’t cry honey. Don’t give them the pleasure. People often judge others by how they look on the outside. They don’t take time to discover the beautiful person that’s on the inside.’”

And this one…
 “One day my mom and I were watching the kids channel on TV and we saw Michelle Obama, that’s the president’s wife. She said if kids ate healthy they wouldn’t get obese.
I guess that’s just a fancy word for fat! This made me sad. I do eat healthy food, but I’m still fat. A lot of those kids with the president’s wife looked like me.”

When she was asked what message she hopes this book will send to parents, Latoya said, “It all starts at home. You know, you’ve got to teach your kids self-confidence. You’ve got to tell them you love them.  You’ve got to really create a pathway for them to be able to come home and talk to you about anything. And when you’re not doing that, a lot of times kids take their anger or whatever they’re not getting home out on other children, which isn’t good. And that’s how bullies are created.”

The book is getting rave reviews from people who have read it already and are being so supportive of LaNiyaya and what she is doing. This is a book I will definitely pick up to use in my own classroom. I believe it is a must-read for any classroom. Who knows how this book might inspire other children just like LaNiyaya? What a brave, young girl!