Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Apples to Oranges

I just read something that annoyed me, I am going to tell you about it because I don't think J would understand. What has riled me up? A comment on Facebook, a comment about babies from someone who I don't even know and shall never know. Someone took their 1 year old into the doctor and while there their child was weighed and measured- this happens all the time. This child weighed 20 pounds at a year and the mother was told that her child was in the 15th percentile. The Mother questioned this on Facebook- is 20 pounds really the 15th percentile? Most of her friends told her that her child was similar to their children, but one person said this "Most of those babies are obese. Your baby is just perfect. Had obesity not taken over America your little guy would be average." I don't agree. I think this person wanted to be a good friend, she wanted to make her friend feel better- but are all of those babies above the 15th Percentile OBESE? NO! I am trying not to be offended. Here are my thoughts.

Babies are all different- there is a reason why they weigh and measure babies every few months, it is so that we can see if they are growing at a good constant rate. If your baby is in the 85th percentile when they are 4 months old and then the 15th when they are 6 months old that is a good sign to a doctor that there might be a problem. If your baby grows at a consistent rate, no mater how big or small they are, that is a good sign that everything is working well. There is NO PERFECT weight for a baby.

Let's talk about my boys. J is in the 80th Percentile for both height and weight- he has had consistent growth for the past 3 years. It makes perfect sense to me that, being taller than 80 out of 100 other 3 year olds, he would also weigh more than 80 out of 100 other 3 year olds. B is almost 8 months old, last week he weighed 23 pounds and is probably 29 inches long. At 6 months old he was around the 95th percentile for height and weight, and looking at the charts he is still right around the 95th percentile. So he is taller and heavier than 95 out of 100 other 8 month olds. Does that make him Obese? No! It means that he is right in line with his family- He comes from a family of TALL people. He is pretty much an exact clone of his Grandpa Turner and his cousin T too. I am not going to sit him down on the floor next to babies, who come from families filled with people who never got taller than 5'5" and never weighed more than 115 pounds, and proclaim that my baby is normal and their baby must be a midget and I wouldn't assume that my baby had a glandular problem and was going to become a giant. They are different, but they are normal, they are both perfect.

Now lets talk about people who are older than 3 years old. I agree that America has a weight problem, I think part of that problem is that we don't want to believe that we are overweight, if we look like most everyone else around us then we must be normal right and normal is okay. I convinced myself that I was normal, then one day I looked at a BMI sheet, I knew I was overweight but what I didn't know is that I was just a few pounds away from being Obese. I was right on the line that separated "Normal" Overweight and Obese. That scared me but it wasn't enough to make me really change my habits. It took gestational diabetes and more than a couple medical professional telling me that if I didn't change I would have type 2 diabetes within 5 years. 5 YEARS! That gave me enough fear, or shame or whatever it was, it gave me enough of a reason to start tipping the scale the other way. Now I am am teetering on the line between Overweight and Average and I plan to get far enough away from that line that I will never have to worry about it again.

What amazes me now is how much push back I get from people. I have had several experiences where I tell someone my goal weight and they tell me that I will be "Too Skinny" and when I say that my goal is actually pretty close to the middle of Average they don't believe me. I even had one person ask me to prove it, so I showed them a weight chart, and they saw that they, like me at the time, were pretty close to obese and they got really quiet. I whole heartedly agree that America has a problem, we need to change, we need to be healthier. I'm trying to be healthier. I am doing it too.

I have learned that it is very important for me to compare myself to others who are similar to me. So yes, If we went around my neighborhood and put us all into percentiles I would probably be an 80th or 90th percentile person too, because I am 5'9" and I am taller than 80 or 90 out of 100 other women in the neighborhood. But that alone does not make me fat, that alone does not make me obese. Lets compare Apples to Apples, not Apples to Oranges. We put kids into percentiles so that we can compare their current stats to their previous stats, so we can compare our Apple to our Apple.

Okay, I've vented. I feel much better now. Thanks for the chat. Talk to you later.


Kristen said...

A lot of great thoughts. You're very good at organizing your feelings. I agree.

Your explanation of the friend writing that made me think of what a friend is. Should a friend make up stuff just to make someone feel better? I don't think so. But maybe I'm not a good friend. =o) I hope my friends are honest with me, instead of just patronizing me all the time. Hmmm. I know what kind of friend I want to be but I wonder if it comes across as offensive. Honesty is the best policy?

I hope you do truly feel better now. Some people are just crazy. =o) People often misunderstand percentiles and research that they've heard. Ben's grandma recently told me that she's happy this will be our last baby because I'm thirty now and there are a lot of health risks when the mother is older than 30. Um. I wanted to respond and tell her it's FORTY she's thinking of, not 30. (I've got another 10 years left in me!) But it doesn't have to matter. I know what's right. Ya know? You know you're right and pretty much the rest of the world knows your right. One friend of a friend is messed up. No worries!

But it's still good to think through things and express your feelings. If it bothers you, talk about it! As far as baby weights, we've had the whole spectrum. Jonathan was 20 lbs when he was 4 months old. Greg was still only 18 pounds when he turned 1. Guess what - they were both healthy. They had the same mom feeding them the same milk (as far as I can tell, haha) and they are both getting tall and skinny as they get older. I LOVE chubby babies and it's healthy, end of story. That doesn't mean that small babies, are unhealthy. Babies are babies and we love them all!

Looooong comment. =o) Love you! You're doing everything perfectly because you are the mom.

Rachel said...

(cue applause)

I really like the way you addressed this and your statement of comparing your own precious apple to itself.

Yes, this country has a weight problem. I believe a lot of it has to do with our refusal to take personal responsibility. I so admire the lifestyle change that you have embraced and I'm trying to follow your lead. Kudos on your success!