Lady Giving Out Letters, Not Candy, to “Obese” Trick or Treaters

Readers — This story is getting a lot of attention: A woman in North Dakota has declared she is going to give out letters, not treats, to kids she considers “moderately obese.” She feels it’s her job to bring their weight to their attention, and she’s mad at the parents for letting them forage for candy.

My take? Aside from the fact that pointing out someone’s weight is both rude and pointless (does heaping shame ever change anyone…for the better?), Halloween is the often the one night of the year kids get to discover how fun it is to leave the house. It’s a night to re-normalize the bizarrely uncommon activity called “being outside,” and its subset, “walking around the neighborhood.”

Anyone anti-obesity should ENCOURAGE that. (Perhaps even with a candy incentive.) – L.

P.S. The lady hails from around Grand Forks. Feel free to make some puns.

Trick or trauma?

Trick or trauma?

 

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51 Responses to Lady Giving Out Letters, Not Candy, to “Obese” Trick or Treaters

  1. Lea October 30, 2013 at 11:31 pm #

    Wow. If she gave my pudgy kids a letter for daring to get some exercise by walking around the neighborhood asking for candy that I’m probably going to steal from them anyway…I’d likely give her a couple of letters as well. Spray painted. On her windows…

  2. phoenix October 30, 2013 at 11:32 pm #

    It’s also yet another example of others thinking they know better than the parents. I’ll bet she is the same person calling the police when the neighbor kids are playing outside unsupervised.

    If she wanted to give out toothbrushes or pencils or nothing at all, that’s her right. But this is just mean spirited.

  3. Marcy October 30, 2013 at 11:33 pm #

    As I have said to others today…I have a child who is heavy because of the meds he’s taken to control his aggressive outbursts. He is autistic.
    Would you rather give a pleasant, heavy child a little candy? Or have a skeletal child, as he used to be, screaming uncontrollably and biting your children?
    Your choice.

  4. Melissa October 30, 2013 at 11:35 pm #

    This has even made news in Australia! When I heard this my first thought was “Why doesn’t she give a non-lolly treat?”

  5. DN October 30, 2013 at 11:36 pm #

    Plenty of research shows that shaming does nothing to help people lose weight. I’m plus sized and the only thing that got me to the gym was needing to rehab an injury–my shame and fear of being mocked kept me away. People like this woman harm, not help.

    That’s without even getting into the weight doesn’t equal health status, you can be fit and fat (I am today), that BMI is beyond flawed, that 98% of diets fail (with the definition of success as 10% of original body weight kept off for 5 years)–in no other field with something with that huge a failure rate be the gold standard treatment.

    I hope she turns off her light.

  6. RobC October 30, 2013 at 11:42 pm #

    Dear Supposedly Well-Meaning But Actually Quite Nasty Passive-Aggressive Fat-Shaming Lady In North Dakota Whose House Is About To Be TP’d Like You Wouldn’t Believe,

    You don’t have to give us letters telling us we’re fat. WE ALREADY KNOW.

    Signed,

    Former Fat Kid, Current Fat (but working on it) Adult

  7. KJ October 30, 2013 at 11:44 pm #

    Ugh. You know, if you feel strongly that obesity is an epidemic in children, then hand out those little bags of carrots or pencils to EVERYONE and don’t single out and shame the “moderately obese” kids. Or turn off your porch light. Just don’t be an a**hole.

  8. SKL October 30, 2013 at 11:46 pm #

    What a hag.

    No pun intended.

  9. Greg October 30, 2013 at 11:49 pm #

    Aside from her unkindness, her behavior is just plain rude. Simple good manners forbids her to offer personal criticisms to any stranger, much less to a child. Her conduct is even more rude because she is standing at her door with candy inviting people to visit her, and she owes the duty of any host or hostess to treat her guests with courtesy and respect. Where was she raised, in a pigsty?

  10. SKL October 30, 2013 at 11:51 pm #

    I dislike many things about Halloween, not the least of which is the ridiculous amount of candy my kids get for practically no effort. I would love it if people would just give little candies like they used to, or give something more wholesome, or maybe little toys or coins or pencils or coupons for free books or … But I’m a stick in the mud. I keep my views to myself during Trick-or-Treat. :/ Who goes around saying mean stuff to little kids?

    Oh yeah, that reminds me. When I was a kid I had an elderly, crabby next-door neighbor. And he would actually name-call the fat girl across the street. I assume it was early senility or something.

  11. Gina October 30, 2013 at 11:52 pm #

    So simple: Everyone must know by now who she is. Just bypass her house. Everyone. Ignore her. No commentary. No graffiti. No attention at all.

  12. SKL October 30, 2013 at 11:55 pm #

    If the kids in her neighborhood have any spunk, they will pretty quickly get together and give *her* a treat before the night is out. I hope it is clever & benign and gets reported in the news. πŸ˜›

  13. Warren October 31, 2013 at 12:01 am #

    Isn’t there a gutsy company out there that will park a truck at the end of her street and hand out rolls of toilet paper, and her address?

    I’ll kick in a 48 roll pack for the cause.

  14. C.J. October 31, 2013 at 12:07 am #

    Children who are overweight often have to deal with other kids picking on them, they don’t need adults doing it too. I know a few overweight children. They get picked on at school and already feel bad enough about themselves. That lady isn’t doing anything to help, she is hurting little kids. She wants to shame them, she should be ashamed of herself.

  15. marie October 31, 2013 at 12:08 am #

    I mis-read this as “First Lady Giving out Letters…” I’m still laughing.

  16. Emily October 31, 2013 at 12:15 am #

    I agree with the people who said that the best course of action would be to simply not give out candy to anyone, and instead give out stickers, pencils, glow sticks, sugarfree gum, or even do what Jillian Michaels does, and hand out passes for free swimming or skating at the local pool or arena. You don’t give candy to the skinny kids, and shaming letters to the chubby kids–that’s just cruel, and it doesn’t do anything to actually address the problem of obesity.

  17. Meagan October 31, 2013 at 12:20 am #

    I’ve already said this more times than I can count, but think this will actually be really helpful and have an immediate impact on these kids’ diets. If it were my kid, the first thing I would do is encourage him to respond by rapidly removing some of the high cholesterol foods from his diet.

    Like… Just off the top off my head… Eggs. Lots and lots of eggs. I’d probably go out and buy MORE eggs, just so he would have more to forcefully expell from his diet. And hand them out to other fat neighborhood kids to forcefully expell from their diet. I’d probably take some time to forcefully eliminate eggs from my diet too!

    After all. Health is very important for everyone, and if this woman is so insistent on inserting herself into my child’s diet, the least I can do is make sure she knows how much we appreciate her involvement.

  18. mobk October 31, 2013 at 12:53 am #

    So the “moderately obese” kids get shamed. What does she give the morbidly obese kids? A bottle of ipecac?

    What a cow!

  19. Ann October 31, 2013 at 2:21 am #

    Just plain mean.
    I prefer not to give out heaps of candy – instead I draw spooky pumpkin faces on mandarins for the kids. Always seems to be a big hit with the neighborhood kids. Combined with spooky house decor, and a spider that jumps out at them when they knock at the door – there’s always plenty of kids coming back year after year.
    You can have plenty of fun at Halloween, without heaps of candy, and *without* shaming or poking fun at *anyone*

  20. pentamom October 31, 2013 at 2:23 am #

    Maybe it’s just a trick to announce this, and publicize it, so that nobody comes to her house.

    Given the choice, I’d rather believe someone is a clever, dishonest recluse than an officious busybody who insults small children to their faces about their weight.

  21. gap.runner October 31, 2013 at 2:37 am #

    That woman is mean-spirited! She is lumping all overweight kids together and just assuming that they are that way because of their diets and/or lack of exercise. There are kids out there who, despite a healthy diet and plenty of exercise, are overweight due to a medical condition or as a side effect of medication. If she is against giving overweight kids candy, there are other alternatives that she can give to all kids, no matter their weight: packs of sugarless gum, pennies, individual boxes of raisins, stickers, colored pencils, or small toys. Her note is only serving to make the kids feel even worse about themselves and their parents angry.

  22. Ben October 31, 2013 at 4:20 am #

    @DN: You’re totally right. I saw a TV show in which doctors compared body mass index, fat percentage and physical fitness. Each gave a different indication, but the last one was still the best for overall health. The BMI is flawed, because comparing weight to height does not distinguish if that weight is muscle or fat. But still, it is used worldwide…

  23. hineata October 31, 2013 at 5:01 am #

    Wow, what a cow! My kids are super-thin, through no great effort on their part. I know overweight kids who exercise a lot more than my three, and have much better diets. Has the woman heard of genes?

    @Ben – yeah, the BMI sucks, doesn’t it? We used to have Samoan girls down here, for example, thinking they were overweight and starving themselves, when they weigh more size-for-size than Europeans do . And at the other end of the spectrum, my husband’s cousin (who should know better – he’s Asian himself) was very worried about my son’s weight. Yep, according to the BMI he was/is seriously underweight for his size. The fact that he eats at least eight weet-bix for breakfast (standard serving two I think) and can put away six sausages for his much heavier mates’ three evidently doesn’t count for anything – the BMI says he’s underweight, so of course he must be unhealthy/starving himself. Sigh….

  24. BL October 31, 2013 at 5:25 am #

    I wonder if some of the kids come prepared with letters of their own. Heh, heh, heh.

  25. BL October 31, 2013 at 5:30 am #

    @DN
    “98% of diets fail (with the definition of success as 10% of original body weight kept off for 5 years)–in no other field with something with that huge a failure rate be the gold standard treatment.”

    People really need to read up about Gary Taubes and others who have shown that low-carb diets work. Low-fat, low-calorie diets don’t. I have personal experience with this, and everyone I know personally who has lost serious weight (other than by prolonged illness) has done the same.

  26. Selby October 31, 2013 at 6:45 am #

    So, what’s her name? Address? Since she feels so strongly about it, since she’s convinced she’s in the right to the point of going on the radio and doing an interview and sharing the letter she plans to hand out…..Who are you, honey? Show your altruistic face so we know this isn’t a passive-aggressive act of attention-getting.

    Oh wait….it is.

  27. W October 31, 2013 at 7:58 am #

    The primary source for all the stories about her seems to be a caller on talk radio. So I’m inclined to think she’s faking. You’d have to be extra thick to not realize what would happen to your house if you did something like that on Halloween.

  28. Donna October 31, 2013 at 8:05 am #

    I understand the thought process here sorta. There is a growing childhood obesity problem and several studies have shown that parents do not identify their obese children as obese. But this is a conversation best left to the child’s doctors, not random, incredibly self-righteous strangers. And not on Halloween!!

    This does remind me that I need to find a new home for our excess trick or treat candy. Every other year I’ve taken it to the office but now home is the office. My kid quickly gets bored with it but I unfortunately don’t.

  29. Sherri October 31, 2013 at 8:27 am #

    How is she even going to identify the moderately obese children? I live about three hours north of her, and my kids will be wearing great big puffy parkas underneath Halloween costumes. All of the children are going to look obese because it is cold out and they will be wearing lots of layers.

  30. Earth.W October 31, 2013 at 8:38 am #

    It’s a bit harsh. Sounds like a nasty piece of work to me.

    We don’t get many kids here being Australia but we keep some books and toys and fruit aside for them to take should they knock on the door.

  31. 20percentcooler October 31, 2013 at 9:11 am #

    I miss when Halloween was about planning a costume for weeks, getting all your friends together, running from house to house (without an adult – gasp!) and having to run back home because your candy bag was so heavy that you pulled a muscle, dumping your candy on the carpet, and sorting through the best candy. The houses who made their own treats would get swarmed, and anyone who gave out toothbrushes would get egged by older teenage siblings. Back then, Halloween was about FUN.
    Now the fun’s been taken out. Parents have taken over a holiday that was meant for kids. They nix any costumes that COULD catch fire when too close to a flame (like, um, any other clothing article) and follow 10 feet behind their kids, in the broad daylight (what fun is it at night?) not going to any strangers’ houses (because they all want to hurt your kids,) calling out any houses with homemade treats (Caramel apples? THEY WANT TO POISON OUR KIDS!) and confiscating all candy, rummaging through and throwing out any piece of candy that has one bit of a torn wrapper, because as we know, all strangers want to slice our kids with razor blades. And now there’s somebody sucking even the last bit of fun left by degrading overweight kids. Let them be kids! We’ve compromised Halloween fun in the name of nonsensical “safety.” Let’s give Halloween back to the kids.

  32. SKL October 31, 2013 at 9:19 am #

    Yeah, kids in that town had better not have a pumpkin costume….

  33. QuicoT October 31, 2013 at 9:20 am #

    Horrible people are horrible.

  34. SKL October 31, 2013 at 9:26 am #

    My kids’ BMIs are above average for genetic reasons too (though they do not look fat). Miss A easily fits into size 3 shorts and even has some size 2s (she just turned 7 and is the height of a typical 6yo). A lot of kids with similar biological backgrounds are stocky or obese. I have been vigilant about diet/exercise since they were babies, or one of mine would probably be heavy. My adoptive parent friends have had to deal with emotional issues that trump weight issues.

    If only kids were little robots without feelings! Then we could give them all “lardass letters” and they would immediately switch to an all-greens diet. And when we get old and feeble, that’s what they’d feed us too….

  35. J October 31, 2013 at 9:35 am #

    The bonfire of bags of flaming dog poo, left on her porch, will be visible from space.

  36. Steve Cournoyer October 31, 2013 at 9:36 am #

    I wonder if her surname is Bloomberg…..another self-righteous, self-appointed do-gooder with no sense of decency or manners…

  37. Warren October 31, 2013 at 9:39 am #

    Yes there is a growing issue with obese children. The thing to remember is that it can only be successfully dealt with on a day to day, everyday basis. Healthy diet and physical activity when possible.

    You do not address issues such as this at
    CHRISTMAS
    HANA……..sorry Lenore, never did know to spell it.
    EASTER
    HALLOWEEN
    or
    SPECIAL OCCASSIONS

  38. NicoleK October 31, 2013 at 9:39 am #

    The research shows that fat-shaming increases the obesity risk. So this lady is actually just helping make the kids fatter.

    http://newyork.cbslocal.com/2013/07/31/study-fat-shaming-doesnt-work/
    http://www.nbcnews.com/health/fat-shaming-actually-increases-risk-becoming-or-staying-obese-new-8C10751491

  39. michael a October 31, 2013 at 9:50 am #

    I think it is a great idea and the tradition should be continued. For Christmas she should select one of her relatives who isn’t well behaved and give them a note saying so instead of a present. For valentines day, find a single person and let them know why they are still single. For July 4, walk up to any foreigners and tell them they’re not welcome.

    See, she can easily embarrass others all year round, but maybe instead, she should look at her own flaws first.

  40. Gina October 31, 2013 at 9:54 am #

    Simple solution without hurting anyone’s feelings. Give out gum or healthy treats. Some people around here still give pencils or change.

  41. SKL October 31, 2013 at 9:59 am #

    I must say I love the idea of giving mandarins with a jack-o-lantern face. Any chance I’ll remember that next year? πŸ˜‰

  42. Laura October 31, 2013 at 10:30 am #

    @BL – Yes! Thank you! If this lady is so concerned about children’s weight she should be handing out strips of bacon. Expensive, though.

  43. CrazyCatLady October 31, 2013 at 10:42 am #

    She lives in Freaking North Dakota. How the heck does she tell if a kid is overweight under the winter coats with the costumes over top??? It is supposed to be 35 tonight!

    Also, she need to keep her nose out of things. A friend of ours, 9 years old, will likely go out pushed in a stroller due to a rare disease that she has that is causing her to lose control of her muscles. She takes steroids to help control her disease and has put on weight, especially her face, due to the medication that helps her get around. Halloween is one of the holidays she can fully celebrate as it is after dark – her condition means that she gets horrible sunburns and is sick for days when out in the sun. To have this one holiday have even the slightest mark on it…uh, nope. She should just close her door and turn out her lights.

  44. C. S. P. Schofield October 31, 2013 at 11:05 am #

    Well, I guess we know who’s playing the witch THIS halloween!

  45. John October 31, 2013 at 11:08 am #

    It is very true that obesity is much more prevalent in today’s youth than it was 20 years ago and it is very true that something needs to be done about it. BUT folks, Halloween is ONCE a year! Halloween is not celebrated every day nor every weekend nor every month. It is celebrated once every 365 days! Pigging out on chocolate one time per year will NOT make a person obese nor is it enough to maintain one’s obesity.

    Even the news where I live featured a local Pediatrician warning parents of the dangers of Halloween candy and said that parents must limit their child’s intake of candy cause too much sugar can call diabetes and rot their teeth out, yada yada yada. Goodness sakes Doctor, we’re talking ONE TIME PER YEAR!!! You just make your kid brush his teeth before bed and if he eats too much candy and throws up, well then that just might be a learning experience for him! Eating too much candy ONE TIME PER YEAR will NOT make a person obese nor will it bring on diabetes. In fact, eating too many sweets TWO times per year (Halloween and Christmas Day) is not even enough to make a kid fat and diabetic. It is the accumulation of the other 363 days and beyond that we need to worry about! Why can’t people understand that???

  46. SKL October 31, 2013 at 11:30 am #

    I keep my kids from getting fat by swiping most of their candy. Ha!

    OK, not really. We donate most of it. But I swipe a bunch too!

    They get way too much. If we didn’t get rid of it, it would easily yield a candy every day until Christmas – and then the cycle starts over again. I really wish people would remember that they just one of dozens of houses (more for older kids). If you give my kids 2-3 large candy bars, and all the other folks do the same, where do you really think that candy is going to end up? Save your money and donate it to a dog shelter or something. A small candy bar or caramel or Smarties really is enough.

  47. Warren October 31, 2013 at 12:11 pm #

    SKL,

    With you there, but not my idea. My kids and some of their friends put two and two together. They know grandma and grandpa always have hard candies and mints to suck on. So they pack up all the hard candies, and the stuff they are not going to eat and take it to the senior’s center down the way.

    We also have baggies of dog treats made up for the poor dogs that are forced to dress up. lol. Hey you wear a costume, you get a treat.

  48. pentamom October 31, 2013 at 12:34 pm #

    “Pigging out on chocolate one time per year will NOT make a person obese nor is it enough to maintain one’s obesity. ”

    This is the problem, right here. And people have done this throughout history. It’s not good enough to say, “Too much of this or the wrong use of this isn’t good for you.” We have to say, “This thing is EVIL! We must make you HATE and FEAR it lest terrible things happen to you!”

    Because teaching people, and especially kids, to hate and fear Evil Objects is easier than teaching them self-control and good judgment, and/or living with the consequences if they cannot or will not learn. It’s just another manifestation of quick fixes for lazy approaches to life.

  49. hineata October 31, 2013 at 5:06 pm #

    You know, where are all these ‘obese’ kids anyway? We had 300 plus kids at our ‘alternative’ party last night, from all sectors of the community (i.e. not just our church kids, its a community event), and maybe a dozen of them were a bit overweight. Nobody huge. And in years of relief teaching in lots of different schools I have only met about five really large kids, all of whom were getting appropriate ‘attention’ and help from health camps etc. And we are supposed to be a fat nation, so you’d think we’d have more of these kids ….

    Or ‘obesity’ might just be over-reported….

  50. Jen Connelly October 31, 2013 at 11:45 pm #

    This lady is just a piece of work. I just wrote a blog on how fat-shaming is never inspiring. That was for adults. To do it to kids… that’s just down right low.

    And the BMI measurement is crap. One year I measured all 4 of my kids and compared them to the charts at the CDC (the ones the doctors use). According them my, who was like 10 at the time), was borderline overweight at 4’10 and 78lbs. Problem is if you looked at him you could see all his ribs and he had almost no fat on him. He is all muscle.

    On the other hand it said my oldest daughter who was 11 but is small for her age (at the time about 4’6 and 50lbs) was considered so underweight we should seek medical attention immediately because she surely had severe medical problems. If you looked at her she was a normal skinny kid. She was no emaciated, just thing. She has an awesome metabolism. We’re all happy that she’s now 13, 4’10, and finally made it past 60lbs. She’ short but she looks healthy.

    Stupid BMI. Stupid lady in North Dakota.

  51. Becca November 2, 2013 at 12:30 pm #

    Hoping it makes people feel a little better, but I live in Minneapolis and our local public radio station was saying that this was just a radio prank…. Think of it as an Onion article I guess! At least it wasn’t really happening πŸ˜‰