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Woman using Halloween to blame and shame ‘moderately obese’ kids

Trick-or-treaters in the Fargo-Moorhead neighbourhood of North Dakota should keep an eye out for an unnamed woman with a mean trick up her sleeve.

Thin kids will get candy at her house, but those she considers "moderately obese" will get a smugly worded letter to bring home, USA Today reports.

The letter states: "You child is, in my opinion, moderately obese and should not be consuming sugar and treats to the extent of some children this Halloween season."

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But wait, there's more: "My hope is that you will step up as a parent and ration candy this Halloween and not allow your child to continue these unhealthy eating habits."

The woman revealed her Halloween plot on the Fargo radio station Y.94.

"I think it's just really irresponsible of parents to send [overweight kids] out looking for free candy just 'cause all the other kids are doing it," she said on air.

The woman didn't give her full name – nor did she explain how she planned to calculate the body-mass index of a costumed child in the dark.

But in her letter, posted on Y94.com, she included the famous quote, "It takes a village to raise a child."

The veneer of concern did not disguise what may be her true intentions: shaming chubby kids and their "irresponsible" parents too.

After all, if the woman truly cared about children's health, she would give out stickers and crayons instead of sweets.

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Instead of doing something constructive, such as volunteering at a community organization to teach kids how to make healthy snacks, "she decided she is the parent police," Donna Demarest wrote on Facebook.

Other online comments described the woman as a bully and attention-seeker.

While sending "fat letters" home has become a trend in U.S. schools, shame-and-blame tactics for obesity tend to backfire, according to Canadian obesity specialist Arya Sharma. "Rather than help, these measures are far more likely to further stigmatize obese people – and lead to worse health outcomes," Dr. Sharma wrote on his blog.

Phill Wilson, posting on Facebook, said he was bullied as a child for being overweight. Commenting on the Fargo woman's plan, he pointed out that a tough-love approach to obesity "only works if you're willing to [make] a deep, personal investment in a child."

The sanctimonious neighbour with the poison pen shouldn't be surprised if her house is covered in toilet paper and pelted with rotten tomatoes on Halloween night.

Online, she already has egg on her face.

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About the Author

Adriana Barton is based in The Globe and Mail’s Vancouver bureau. Her article on growing up with counterculture parents is published in a McGraw-Hill anthology, right after an essay by Margaret Atwood. She wishes her last name didn’t start with B. More

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