Teenage Waistland: A Former Fat Kid Weighs in on Living Large, Losing Weight, and How Parents Can (and Can't) Help

Teenage Waistland: A Former Fat Kid Weighs in on Living Large, Losing Weight, and How Parents Can (and Can't) Help

by Abby Ellin
     
 

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We've been inundated lately with books and articles about childhood obesity. Most offer cultural critique or nutrition and exercise advice — in tones that are alternately appalled and patronizing. Few address the psychological, medical, cultural and developmental complexities affecting overweight kids. The truth is, many parents already know that Whoppers are

Overview


We've been inundated lately with books and articles about childhood obesity. Most offer cultural critique or nutrition and exercise advice — in tones that are alternately appalled and patronizing. Few address the psychological, medical, cultural and developmental complexities affecting overweight kids. The truth is, many parents already know that Whoppers are fattening. What they don't know is how to effectively help an often discouraged, often reluctant kid on what will be a difficult, life-long journey.

Abby Ellin, a journalist and former fat-camper whose parents' attempts to "save her" from fatness proved counterproductive, has had a lifelong interest in figuring out how they might have done it better, and an abiding compassion for overweight kids. In Teenage Waistland she shares the story of her own adolescent struggle with food and weight, and journeys with hope, skepticism, and humor through the landscape of today's diet culture. She visits camps and community programs, and talks to experts, kids and their parents, seeking to answer these questions: What can parents say that kids will hear? Why don't kids exercise more and eat less when they're dying to be thinner? What treatment methods actually work? Willpower, or surrender? Shame, or inspiration?

Teenage Waistland is ultimately clarifying and provocative for anyone who's ever wrestled with weight issues. One size does not fit all when it comes to weight loss, and the better we understand that, the more likely we are to be able to help our kids.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"A thoughtful, provocative and valuable account of subject that is too often beset by prejudice and hysteria." -- Paul Campos, Professor, University of Colorado and author of The Diet Myth

"Abby Ellin has written a necessary road map for parents and their children who struggle with eating issues." -- Betsy Lerner, author of Food and Loathing

"Ellin's funny, intimate and unblinkingly honest book is sure to help parents and kids wrestling with this issue." -- Alissa Quart, author of Branded: The Buying and Selling of Teenagers

"Its straight-forward perspective challenges our current views about weight loss, body image, and the manipulative societal pressures on our children." -- Emme

"Teenage Wasteland is not just about Ellin's personal experiences...It's about the emotional effects of the various solutions." -- Los Angeles Times, June 14, 2005

"Written with candor, curiosity, and compassion... [and]reflects our own grown-up and insecurities around body and beauty, health and happiness." -- Wendy Shanker, author of The Fat Girl's Guide to Life

"[Ellin] addresses the situation from a psychological, medical, cultural, and most important, understanding standpoint." -- Gotham Magazine, August, 2005

"A unique, empathetic perspective on this issue [Ellin] writes with compassion and humor about the trials of overweight kids." -- Bookpage, August 2005

"An honest, grimly funny report from a world that's lost all sense of proportion about fat." -- Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, June 6, 2005

"One part investigative journalism, one part self-help, and one part personal narrative, Waistland is intriguing...both eloquent and moving." -- The Boston Globe, September 18, 2005

Big Apple Parent July 2005
"An insightful and compelling journey... Teenage Waistland leaves readers with a deeper understanding of childhood obesity and our diet-obsessed culture."
Publishers Weekly
Ellin, a freelance journalist and former fat-camper, wants parents of obese teens to understand a few essential points. First, there's no single answer to the obesity problem-what's right for one kid may be useless for another. Don't shame obese children by calling them fat or out of control, or by putting them on highly restricted diets while other family members munch on fried chicken. Respect "nutritionally challenged" children, and focus on the many things to love about them. Teach them about living healthy, which involves more than just knowing which foods to pick. Ellin has researched fat camps (expensive but a relief from real-world struggles), behavior modification programs (difficult to keep up), gastric bypass surgery (effective but fairly dangerous), drugs (largely ineffective) and the "size acceptance" approach (theoretically fine, but maybe they're kidding themselves). The problem with this book may be that it's a little too honest-teenage obesity is not easily solved with a Frenchwoman's recipes for diuretic leek soup. Yet the author's compassion and her willingness to share her personal life, along with the book's appendix listing helpful resources, may bring comfort to many distraught parents. (June) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
To provide insight into today's teenage obesity problem, New York Times writer Ellin reflects on her weight-obsessed childhood and adolescence. She tells rather horrifying stories of how her mother and grandmother instilled in her the need to conform to a perfect body image as an eight-year-old. Her sister, faced with the same pressure, became anorexic, while Ellin turned to overeating and food obsession. Though she was never significantly overweight, she tried "fat camps," Weight Watchers , and other methods to lose weight. Ellin includes funny yet poignant stories about weight-loss counselors so food-obsessed themselves that they couldn't possibly help the young people in their charge. Parents won't find any quick answers here, but they may find the interviews with overweight teenagers useful. Part memoir and part sociological commentary, Ellin's insightful look at how children and teenagers process the information they receive from society about body image and weight is recommended for most public libraries and consumer health collections.-Elizabeth Williams, Washoe Cty. Lib. Syst., Reno, NV Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781586484606
Publisher:
PublicAffairs
Publication date:
01/28/2007
Pages:
288
Product dimensions:
5.60(w) x 8.90(h) x 1.00(d)

What People are saying about this

Betsy Lerner
"Abby Ellin has written a necessary road map for parents and their children who struggle with eating issues. She is brave enough not to pretend to have answers, but smart enough to provide meaningful insights and true stories from the frontlines."--(Betsy Lerner, author of Food and Loathing)
Wendy Shanker
"Beware, Moms and Dads: this may look like a book, but it's really a mirror. Written with candor, curiosity, and compassion, Abby Ellin's Teenage Waistland reflects our own grown-up (but not always mature) issues and insecurities around body and beauty, health and happiness."--(Wendy Shanker, author of The Fat Girl's Guide to Life)
Emme
"Teenage Waistland is a must-read for doctors, families, clergy, and teachers. Its straight-forward perspective challenges our current views about weight loss, body image, and the manipulative societal pressures on our children."--(Emme, plus-size model)

Meet the Author


For five years, Abby Ellin wrote the "Preludes" column, about young people and money, in the Sunday Money and Business section of the New York Times. She also regularly writes the "Vows" column in the New York Times Sunday Styles section, as well as feature assignments for the New York Times Magazine. Her work has appeared in a range of publications, including Time, the Village Voice, Marie Claire, More, Self, Glamour, the Boston Phoenix, and Spy (RIP). She's an editor-at-large for Gotham magazine and has an MFA in Creative Writing from Emerson College. But her greatest claim to fame is naming "Karamel Sutra" ice cream for Ben and Jerry's.

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