Woman to give out anti-obesity letter rather than candy for Halloween

Trick or TreatBoo! Here’s a scary story to ponder just hours before the witching hour officially begins. A genuine hag in the area of Grand Forks, N.D., will be responding to child soprano cries of “trick or treat” tonight with a trick of her own.

Valley News Live reports that a woman whose name has been withheld (for her own protection) plans on handing out a letter instead of candy to Halloween revelers whom she judges to be “moderately obese.”

The letter, which is addressed to the parents of the kids (many of whom will doubtless dress up as the 1940s radio sensation “The Fat Man”), explains that she is helping combat a national epidemic. (A copy of the letter is here.) The woman, who was interviewed on a local radio station, said:

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I just want to send a message to the parents of kids that are really overweight… I think it’s just really irresponsible of parents to send them out looking for free candy just because all the other kids are doing it.

I’m contributing to their health problems and really, their kids are everybody’s kids. It’s a whole village.

She has a point. It would be far better for guilty parents to keep the little lard butts chained up to a treadmill at home. But putting aside entirely the question of whether the kiddies will outgrow their baby fat, the article quotes Katie Gordon, an NDSU Assistant Professor of Clinical Psychology who studies eating disorders. She maintains that children are very conscious of fitting in with peers and that the letter might do more harm than good.

“It’s just that kind of thing that for some kids, if they’re vulnerable, might trigger major problems,” she says.

Gordon cautions against judging based on appearance alone.

That’s not something that someone can judge — the health of someone —just by looking at them. I think that’s the main thing. Even if a child is overweight, they might be very healthy because of what they eat and how they exercise. It’s ineffective anyway because it’s not likely to help the kid.

If you’re not yet convinced that the well-meaning but misguided woman’s approach is wrong-headed, consider that even Slate advocates letting kids be kids on Halloween (even if the author takes an unnecessarily circuitous path that bottom line).

If you’re still not convinced and happen to live in the Grand Forks, take a ride around the neighborhood in the morning. You’ll recognize the house of the letter giver by the abundance of toilet paper gracing its façade.

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