In years past, purveyors of health handed out alternatives to candy, such as fruit, money or mini coloring kits, but in the age of rampant obesity “fat letters” have suddenly become a suitable replacement.
In North Dakota, one woman, identified as "Cheryl" on a morning radio station, has resorted to giving letters to overweight children that come seeking something sweet. She claims to be doing her part to fight the growing obesity epidemic.
Her letter reads: "You (sic) child is, in my opinion, moderately obese and should not be consuming sugar treats to the extent of some children this Halloween season. My hope is that you will step up as an adult and ration candy this Halloween and not allow your child to continue these unhealthy eating habits."
In an interview, she explained that she is simply seeking this as an opportunity to tell parents that their child has weight issues. She feels that it is “irresponsible of parents to send [their kids] out looking for free candy just 'cause all the other kids are doing it.”
Although her intention is to help parents identify the behavioral issues that may be causing their child’s excess weight, experts say the unsolicited advice could cause emotional issues for the child. Ultimately, the letters may do more harm than good.
Comments on social media and the subjective opinion of some journalists have offered, show that most people do not support this woman’s efforts. Her tactic has been categorized as “fat-shaming” and as one blogger wrote, it’s just plain evil:
"I can understand if you are that weird and concerned about a kid’s weight maybe handing out boxes of raisins or bags of carrot sticks or something," wrote Eve Vawter of Mommyish. "I can see MAYBE hanging a sign on your door that reads 'I will not be handing out candy this year.' But to fat-shame little kids who come to your door trick or treating? That’s a whole other level of evil. Way to make all the kids feel like garbage, lady."
This type of behavior has been found to increase obesity risk among children, rather than combat it. Positive reinforcement of healthy habits is the solution, not judgment.