On one hand, Breanna Boden is an amazing inspiration. After reaching a weight of 186 pounds, the 9-year-old girl embarked on a healthy lifestyle overhaul and has lost an incredible 66 pounds in the past year. She is the poster child for what we want to show every overweight child in America -- it can be done with healthy eating habits and exercise. And good for her for doing it.
After facing bullying from peers and problems keeping up with her friends, her mother, Heidi Bond, decided something had to be done. She told Good Morning America that they had Breanna tested for everything from thyroid to diabetes to allergies, and everything was normal. Even though she reached 100 pounds by kindergarten, her pediatrician "always said that she'd grow into her body," but after awhile Heidi knew that wouldn't be the case. So she designed her own exercise and eating program for Breanna. And it worked.
Today Breanna looks amazing and healthy, and the teasing has stopped. But I can't help but wonder if what she's doing is worth it, and if the plan that got her to where she is today is really sustainable for a lifetime.
While she's added in some fun healthy activities like basketball and joining a swim team, the rest of the weight loss plan sounds brutal. They started walking a four-mile trail near their home and did it daily, no matter what. "There was nothing that stopped us," Heidi Bond said. "We went at night, in the rain, in the hail, in the fog, nothing. We had a zero-tolerance policy. We're doing the walk, no matter what."
Today her mom says Breanna limits her fat intake to 24 grams a day, and she spends an hour and 15 minutes a day on the treadmill. And she's 9.
That just sounds so extreme to me for a little girl, and while her weight definitely needed to be addressed, I think of all of the birthday parties, and Christmas cookies, and other carefree parts of childhood that will never be hers without this huge burden of her weight loss plan hanging over her. Yes, her health should come first, and sacrifices must be made, but 24 grams of fat a day isn't much at all, and a treadmill?
Most adults couldn't keep this up for long ... and don't. So I worry about the pressure on her to do so, and what happens when she goes through puberty, or to high school, or to college. I wonder if the regime had to be so extreme or whether it could have been done more gradually through smaller changes? And why didn't they make some changes sooner?
The bottom line, however, is that when your child's health and happiness are at stake, there's almost nothing most parents wouldn't do to try to ensure them as quickly as possible. Being overweight comes with so many complications and risk factors, it would be negligent NOT to try and help your child lose weight. So I absolutely understand her mother's determination to help her on this journey, and I applaud Breanna for all of her hard work. I just hope the way they chose to do it is really worth it in the long run.
What do you think of Breanna's 66-pound weight loss?
Image via ABC