Has the Fat Lady Sung? ABC Urges Common Sense for Watching Kids' Weight

“How young is too young to start worrying about your child’s weight?” ABC’s Elizabeth Vargas asked, teasing a story by Lisa Stark about the World Health Organization’s new measurements for body mass index (BMI) on the April 27 “World News Tonight.”

“Under the new guidelines for the first time,” Stark announced, “the body mass index will be used for American children under two.”

Stark’s report, however, ended up a surprising departure from the media’s usual scaremongering.

“I don’t think that this is another one of the millions of things that Americans need to obsess about,” said Bill Gallagher, the father of a 15-month-old boy. “Yeah,” added mother Anne Favret, “as long as children seem to be healthy and growing well, I think most pediatricians will tell you they’re fine.”

While Stark reported that “doctors insist” that “it’s never too early for keeping track” of a baby’s BMI, she also included some advice from Dr. Christopher Bolling of the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, who cautioned parents not to overreact by putting their toddlers on a restrictive diet.

“Under age two, you never want to limit cholesterol or fat. Those are important nutrients for brain growth and blood vessel development,” said Bolling.

The solution, concluded Stark, “it’s all about common sense.”

While Stark’s report was balanced, the Free Market Project has weighed the media’s overall treatment of the “obesity epidemic” in the scales and found it lacking.