It's Audio! I talk to Virginia Sole-Smith about weight, kids & pandemic


I’m really, really excited to try this out with the caveat that I am not, shall we say, a “professional podcaster.”

But: I have been dying to get Virginia Sole-Smith to come talk to me about weight, kids, dieting and the pandemic and when she agreed I thought it would be a fun opportunity to try an audio episode. I’ve pulled out a few highlights below in text, but seriously try listening! Virginia is great.

If you do not know Virginia’s work you should. She’s a journalist, a NYT Parenting contributor, and the author of The Eating Instinct. She has a new book in the works (coming, in her words, in 2023) called Fat Kid Phobia. She writes a newsletter on (where else?) Substack called Burnt Toast.

In our conversation we touched on a few things.

First: pandemic weight gain in kids. Virginia has a great column here about how to think about body changes in kids during the pandemic. She also makes the point in our discussion that we actually do not really know how the pandemic has affected weight, since we do not have data yet.

(Afterward she emailed me to add this: While we don't have any data on whether kids are gaining too much weight, we do have some evidence that disordered eating is on the rise: An Australian study of 5,469 people, found that 64.5 percent of those with a history of eating disorders reported that they were restricting their food intake more since the pandemic, while 35.5 percent reported more binge eating.)

Second: we talked in general about how to talk about food and weight with kids and (to my questions) how to not pass on our own diet/food/weight stuff to our kids. We got to, really, two main things. One is that kids grow at different rates at different times and growth charts sometimes cause more stress than value. The second is that if you want to avoid passing on food issues to your kids, you should avoid talking about your own weight in front of them. A couple of studies on that here and here.

At the end of that chat we returning to issues of weight in COVID-19 and talked about how weight stigma may affect how people are treated for COVID. Virginia has an interesting piece on this here in Medium.

Please listen, though! And feel free to send feedback (nicely!) about this format. Thanks for bearing with all my experimentation. Thursday I’ll be back with the written word, more on kids & COVID and all your questions about how to think about long term risks.

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