Who is MeMe Roth?

A. Kate Harding's Arch-Enemy
B. Nut-job with nice hair
C. Anti-Obesity Advocate
D. All of the above

If you answered D, you are correct!

Roth is the President of National Action Against Obesity  (NAAO), a group dedicated to;

-Reversing the obesity crisis by eliminating disease and
obesity-accelerators from the food supply.

-Barring junk food from
child care centers, preschools, and schools.

Secondhand Obesity™ (obesity handed down from one generation to the
next, as well as from citizen to citizen).

-Encouraging exercise
across all ages.

NAAO believes success relies upon wholly re-imagining what the U.S.
population considers “normal” food consumption and “normal” exercise.
They believe that when the majority is overweight, America cannot be normal.

So far, so good in my opinion….but from here she goes off the deep end.

-She is a woman who admits to "not eating until she has exercised."(so be it if she doesn't get to the gym until 4 o'clock in the afternoon).

-She is a mother of two girls who is surely screwing with their precious little heads, which will undoubtedly result in a life time of deprogramming.

-She describes obesity as "abuse of our children and ourselves." This seems to be over the top language to attract attention to her cause. Can't blame her…America loves this crap…say something outrageous and you are sure to be booked on O'Reilly the next day.

-She is a total poser which only serves to reduce her credibility.

Here's my take on the topic after much research and a mother of two happy, healthy children;

-Obesity is part hereditary, some of us are born with the tendency to weigh on the heavy side – I don't believe this is a choice nor is it a sin. Roth comes from an obese family, as does her husband – but based on her lifestyle is she really "living life" with the obsessive exercise and calorie restriction it takes her to remain thin?

-Obesity can be an eating disorder, psychological in nature, and not a deliberate act on the part of the overweight individual. To call it "abuse" is just plain ignorant and cruel.

  -Obesity is  a result of capitalism and marketing. The almighty dollar rules, so we are fed products pumped with every chemical known to man in an effort to make us salivate for more. More education is the key here.

BUT – at the end of the day, we all make choices. There is no one shoving junk food down our throats. As adults and parents we have a responsibility to:

-Educate ourselves on which foods are healthy, natural and good for our physical and mental well being.

-Teach our children about the basic food pyramid, make regular home cooked meals in order to practice what we preach, while also allowing treats to be a normal, regular part of our daily diet.

-Live a balanced life, joining our children in activities and sports,  encouraging mental and physical well being.

Bottom line,  MeMe is all about MeMe. Her message is irresponsible and self serving. She needs to come to the solid midwestern community I live in, to see a whole different world of responsible parents, nutrition based school programs, and active healthy kids that don't need to be protected from the big, bad food industry as Ms. Roth would lead us to believe.

Where do you stand on the issue?


UPDATE 6/5/09
More on MeMe thanks to Rachael

This eye opening post thanks to Sweet Machine "It's Hard To Be MeMe"

This entry was posted in Fat Fear and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

25 Responses to Who is MeMe Roth?

  1. Rachel says:

    “Obesity can be an eating disorder, psychological in nature, and not a deliberate act on the part of the overweight individual.”
    You should watch your wording here. Obesity is not an eating disorder and is not recognized in the DSM as an eating disorder. Many people with binge eating disorder tend to be overweight or obese, but obesity is often a symptom of their eating disorder, and not the cause. I’m seeing a trend in conflating obesity itself in with clinically recognized eating disorders, but obesity does not confer any behavioral patterns; it simply is used as a descriptor for the range one’s BMI falls in.
    And for the real skinny on MeMe Roth, her lack of any real certifications and the ways in which she misrepresents herself as some kind of “expert” leading a crusade of volunteer activists, read here: http://the-f-word.org/blog/index.php/2009/05/27/the-skinny-on-meme-roth/

  2. Melissa says:

    I have read about her in other publications and am appalled reading anything she says. She’s so extreme and that is why she’s so unlikeable. Promoting healthy living for children (and adults) is a no-brainer, but the evangelical way she does it is just terrible. It’s unrealistic to expect kids to never want a sweet. I hope to raise my children someday with balance — like I was raised. My mom never said I couldn’t have a cookie … but she made sure dinner was eaten (healthy) and I stopped at 1 or 2. When I’d reach for a third she’d remind me I’d already had two, and that helped me understand portion control to some extent. I wasn’t deprived, but it wasn’t a free-for-all either like so many kids today seem to have.
    That said, personal responsibility is a huge issue; if parents engaged in good, healthy behavior, their kids would likely want to take the same path, owning their choices. I like being able to say, I am choosing an apple and PB over something else. The apple and PB gives me energy to exercise, go to work, etc. A brownie tastes good, but isn’t going to sustain me. But if I want a little brownie, I’m going to have it! It’s about balance and MeMe is someone severely lacking in it.

  3. Meryt Bast says:

    She’s got problems that she might want to talk to someone about before trademarking the phrase “secondhand obesity” and trashing a YMCA sundae bar.
    Oh, wait…

  4. tk says:

    ok, so i know she has gone completely the other way, but i do not think anybody can be naturally obese, we can be on the heavy side but no one can be naturally obese.
    obesity can not be an eating disorder, it can be the result of an eating disorder, just like extreme thinness.
    i’m not sure exactly of her wording when she suggests obesity is abusing our children, i would agree if she is saying parents feeding children too much, which causes them to become obese is abusing them. i’ve watched my mother allow my brother eat crap and i think, to an extent, that is abuse because he is too young age11) to fully understand, she is not.
    i know she is going OTT with her campaign but i do not like people getting criticised for being too thin but getting praised for being obese and happy

  5. mamaV says:

    Hi Rachael: Point taken, thank you.
    I want to clarify that my list defining “obesity as an eating disorder” each item was prefaced with “can be” or “partly due to” because I was attempting to cover the spectrum of possibilities.
    I tend to not quote what DSM definitions because in the ED world on EDNOS/Bulimia/Anorexia side it is inaccurate and incomplete and often the source of many individuals not seeking treatment because they don’t fit a category.
    On your point “Many people with binge eating disorder tend to be overweight or obese, but obesity is often a symptom of their eating disorder, and not the cause.”
    I can’t quite get my head around this- can you expand? One issue is BMI is proven inaccurate, so again I tend to not use it as a valid tool for classifying anything.
    Here’s where I get stuck – I hear you stating that a person with binge eating becomes overweight therefore the obesity is a symptom of their behavior. But what about individuals who are overweight (or think they are because society says they should be size sero) who then lives a life of yo-yo dieting/disordered eating, and as a result ends up obese. This is nothing but psychological and obesity ends up being BOTH the symptom and the cause.

  6. Patrick says:

    I love MeMe Roth! She’s absolutely gorgeous! Nothing like the obese.

  7. Rachel says:

    I think that your child being obese COULD be a form of child abuse- if you are an enabler. If you give in to all of their shrieks for food- especially bad foods- then you are not doing them any favors- as a parent it is YOUR responsibility to make sure your children eat well. Not that I would label all people who are obese in that way. But I guess I can sort of see where she is coming from. We live in a world of such extremes. No one seems to know of the middle ground- the place where you eat healthy and still enjoy a treat, get out and move your body without it being an obsessive compulsion, or do the opposite, sit on the couch, watching the biggest loser on t.v. and blaming our genetics for our weight- while we drive our cars to the mailbox and circle the parking lot over and over so we don’t have to walk too far to get into the store.
    I think that America in particular, and the western world at large- is VERY eating disordered in general. That a majority suffers from something doesn’t mean its ok, or that we should do nothing. But it seems to me that the result of all the perfection that is held up to us to achieve by magazines and television and movies results in two polar opposites- people who abuse their bodies to achieve that result- and people who get so depressed by something they can never achieve they comfort themselves with food. I realize that is a huge generalization. But I actually think that we as a whole have become very distorted in our idea of what ‘normal’ is. I hate to use that word- because usually it means some kind of conformity. But I think when it comes to obesity, and eating disorders- we have adopted a tendency to decide that our unhealthiness is normal, because everyone is also equally unhealthy. And then we blame our genes, throw up our hands, and say its not our fault. And I am including eating disorders in that- because I have known many young women who think they can’t ever get better, because its just who they are, and all the gene studies seem to validate that they hold no personal responsibility in their own recovery. I used to be one- so its not like I am talking about something in which I have no experience. I am a recovered anorexic coming from a family that all had tendencies toward obesity. In fact, my younger sister and I are the only ones who are not obese. And its because we eat reasponsibly, get exercise, and still enjoy treats. That we come from the family we come from means that I will never be rail thin like I was without being anorexic again- and that is hard to accept at times. But its a choice I make- over and over and over.

  8. anon says:

    personally, i am all for an anti-obesity campaign, though i do agree that having an anorexic head it is counter-productive and a little nutty.
    but you said “She needs to come to the solid midwestern community I live in, to see a whole different world of responsible parents, nutrition based school programs, and active healthy kids that don’t need to be protected from the big, bad food industry as Ms. Roth would lead us to believe.”
    i would like to know where, precisely a place like this exists. it sounds very idyllic and pleasant.
    i find it interesting that every time i leave my home in new york for elsewhere in the country — for midwestern and southwestern cities and towns — i am repeatedly surprised at how the average waistline, both in children and adults, seems to increase tenfold in suburban america from the average in new york. i see people so large getting out of their suvs that it’s almost incomprehensible.
    don’t you find it a bit shameful that we are known elsewhere are “those fat americans?”

  9. Mrs. B says:

    Not sure I agree with you. I’m not willing to pigeonhole any communities, but the truth is, in Hamilton County, Indiana….which is about as suburban as it gets, people are pretty fit and healthy. The gyms are crowded, the parks are busy, and people look great. I went out for a walk on my nature trail this morning and saw gobs of folks out walking, running, biking…whatever.
    True, this is a highly educated community, where the household education and income are both very high, but suburban America is not as fat as people think that it is.

  10. Julie says:

    This is a little rant and rave about the obesity side of things…a few thoughts about Marion Nestle’s comments in the Observer article. I think it’s a mistake to blame food politics and per capita calorie production for the obesity crisis. It doesn’t matter what the president did to get into office, or how many millions of calories are on the shelf at the Kroger store. I have a choice what I will buy and what I will put into my mouth. Each person has that choice. Yes, we are programmed partially by our genes and by what we were fed as young children. It’s sure not easy, but people do overcome these things.
    I don’t agree with the idea that high-calorie foods are cheaper than fresh fruits and vegetables. Having been a poor college student for quite some time, bananas truly are one of the cheapest foods known to man. Besides fruits and vegetables, eggs are a wonderfully inexpensive protein source.
    I think the fact that MeMe is so hesitant to talk about her own eating habits is a strong indicator that something is wrong there. We don’t usually hide things that we are proud of.
    I truly think education about food is so very important. If people really knew the wonderful things they would do for their bodies if they ate well, and how much better they would feel if they did, they would want to live that way all the time.
    I truly believe education is the answer

  11. Sharona says:

    I haven’t read her books or reasd about her before, but from the way you describe her, she sounds extreme like Ann Coulter.
    She probably writes a lot of things based on her emotions and experiences in an obece family.
    I don’t think that all people are obese as a result of capitalism and marketing. I do know of some cultures (like Iranian culture before it became westernized with the shah and then a theocracy with the mullahs) that embraced heavy, overweight women. They wanted women to be fat, because for some reason they thought that fat women could better do household chores and run the home. Fat women were considered beautiful then.
    Nowadays, a lot of people are genetically destined to be “overweight” or fall in a certain weight range, and it is up to them to control how much they let their genetics control them. I think Meme Roth seems extreme. She seems to advocate working out more than the recommended daily amount to stay fit. And that is why she reminds me of Ann Coulter.

  12. mamaV says:

    Hi Rachel: I second everything you said. You articulated how I feel about “normal” – there is none, so you have to find your own.
    Particularly now with children, this is something that is front of mind. I used to worry about all the outside influences, mixed messages, but not anymore because my husband and I provide a balanced household, and I see them grow – and they ask questions.
    Kids get it. They tune into what is odd in their learning’s, if they are able to bounce their thoughts off an adult who will guide them.
    Example – my 3rd grade daughter was learning about food components (carbs, protein, fats, sugars) with a substitute teacher who teaches the facts and then migrates on to the obesity epidemic and says “Like me, I have weight to lose.” My daughter comes home confused because the teacher does not have weight to lose in her eyes and we talk about it. She gets it. She gets that there are two ends of the spectrum…and in between individuals who don’t have realistic body image (FYI my daughter does not know about mamaV, she understands only that I blog about self esteem and confidence issues and techniques for young women).
    On the flipside, if I was obese due to overeating, and I fed my kids junk food every day- yes it would become a level of child abuse…but it would need to go pretty far to be classified as such, and this is where I see the schools are stepping in. In fact, they are so focused on the obesity side that I think they may be going too far…making the vast majority of children question whether or not they are to be concerned (here I speak from my perspective though- my children are genetically tall and thin, and they are being fed proper nutrition).
    So complicated isn’t it?

  13. Mrs. B. says:

    Don’t be so sure that a healthy home will ensure that your kids get it. Your kids are really young. You haven’t really begun to face the challenges you will face. I had the daughter everyone thought would never have a problem. Brilliant, beautiful, talented, individualistic….and then she was raped. Her home was a haven and then she discovered that the rest of the world was insane. It took a lot of love and therapy to get her feet back under her. You don’t really control as much as you think you do.

  14. Rachel says:

    Mrs. B- you are right- we can’t control all the things that happen to our children. All we can do is give them the tools to make the right choices in life. And that includes tools to find ways to deal with the impossible- like rape- that are not self destruction.
    In a day and age when I am sure most everyone knows a kid that pitches a fit to get McDonalds, the last time we passed by on a bike ride (the nearest one for us is a good 5 miles away, and we only have bikes)- we stopped in because my daughter needed to use the bathroom (she’s 2)- and I had totally prepared myself for the begging, when my son said “I don’t want to go there!” And then started jumping up and down in excitement when we got back on the bikes because my husband had made cheese sandwiches on whole grain buns. Can I control what happens to him later? No I can’t- but I am very happy that in a day and age when I know lots of kids who scream for candy and beg for McDonalds, I have kids who jump up and down for healthy food and beg constantly for fruit.
    Lead by example, people. No kid is ever going to accept you saying “do as I say, not as I do”

  15. mamaV says:

    Hi Mrs. B: I hear you…if I have learned anything from this blog is that parents don’t have control.
    My pediatrician told me the same thing, expressing frustration how schools have soda machines and junk food, and control goes out the window.
    All you can do is try your best, just as you did, you know?

  16. mamaV says:

    Hi Rachel: I have a philosophy based on how I was raised.
    My mom always served a balanced meal – meat, potatoes, bread, veggies, fruit. BUT we always had dessert. I think this is very important. Psychologically, I didnt have foods labeled as “bad” and “good”
    During my childhood, I was a candy freak. My parents let me go nuts as long as I ate my balanced meals (but the family joke is I used to jam all my dinner meat in my mouth and then excuse myself to the bathroom to spit it in the toilet).
    My husband on the other side was totally deprived of sweets. He ended up sneaking them, literally slicing the side of a twinkee box with a razor blade to sneak one out. To this day, he polishes off sweets/chips like nothing and has a hard time stopping at a reasonable amount of sweets.
    With our kids, we serve a balanced meal, veggies and fruit have to be eaten – or no dessert (a dessert is a few pieces of candy or chocolate) Weekends we have “two dessert night” since we usually do family stuff, make popcorn, watch movies etc (and the two desserts include mom and dad so we practice what we preach!!)
    A few funny facts:
    On my sons 5th birthday, I gave him is first Coke – he hated it! He always says soda is disgusting! (Again, we don’t drink it we are LaCroix junkies) but he loves, loves, loves chocolate and I let him go nuts with it once in a while – hey, he’s a kid!
    My kids don’t love McDonalds. They have had it every few months or so throughout their lives, and now they would rather go to Fazolis or Subway. I would recommend letting your kids have McDonalds every once in a while but explaining that the food is not really healthy, but surely ok to have once in a while. Eat with them, and let yourself enjoy it as well….its the stigma that I think makes this dangerous so striking a healthy balance is key.
    This way you are preparing them for the future when you are not there to monitor and advise.

  17. Sarah says:

    Anon, I find it shameful that you have such a sour attitude about your fellow Americans. You have the stuck-up “better than thou” personality which normal Americans are sick of dealing with. It must be nice to judge people on stereotype only.
    There are plenty of fat people in your precious New York. There are plenty of fat people in Europe, Asia, and Africa too.

  18. .C. says:

    I have to say though, Sarah, that after having been in France I have to agree a little bit with the idea that Americans are generally fatter. Paris especially – there are a lot of rail thin people there. Now, I don’t know why this is, or if it’s better, or what. I’m not going to say I haven’t wondered if a lot of people here don’t have eating disorders (again, especially referring to Paris here). It’s just something I’ve noticed. There are overweight people, of course, but oftentimes they end up being tourists, and oftentimes they’re from America.
    On another note though, who cares?

  19. “But what about individuals who are overweight (or think they are because society says they should be size sero) who then lives a life of yo-yo dieting/disordered eating, and as a result ends up obese. This is nothing but psychological and obesity ends up being BOTH the symptom and the cause.”
    I don’t necessarily agree. Your reasoning here is kind of like the chicken and the egg. Even if someone is overweight and that sparks in them disordered eating which then leads to obesity, it’s not the weight itself that is to blame, but rather societal attitudes about weight that lead one to believe that they need to lose weight. To say that obesity is an eating disorder isn’t any different than saying that thinness is an eating disorder.
    And it looks like there is another Rachel here commenting, so I’ll be sure to distinguish myself from her from now on. And as a side note… is html not enabled in comments? It makes quoting and linking kind of difficult.

  20. Gid says:

    I have only visited the southern states but I have to agree, you see more overweight people in the US. In particular, extremely overweight families which suggests that people are indeed passing on their poor eating habits to their children and in a lot of cases condemning them to a life of poor health. But sadly, we seem not too far behind you in the UK now, I see this phenomenon here too.
    But I don’t buy obesity as an eating disorder. It is a symptom of a society which encourages no activity (seriously, valet parking for a 20 metre wide car park, drive thru Mc donalds – you guys really have not walking anywhere down to a fine art) and 3,000 calorie meals in one sitting. Its simple mathematics.

  21. smudgeruk says:

    From what I’ve seen / heard of America and Europe, I have to agree with Gid on the “lack of activity” issue being important.
    I’ve got a friend studying in the US, she says it’s either dangerous (because of the way the roads and paths are designed) or impossible (because there is no footpath) to walk or cycle anywhere in her area.
    Likewise, over here, kids don’t seem to play outside anymore, they don’t cycle or run around like I did as a kid. They play computer games or watch TV. Many schools have no proper yard / playing field for sports.
    And now, obesity rates among young children are soaring in the UK. Coincidence? Hmm…

  22. polly says:

    Great topic and I agree with the points you’ve presented. I personally battled with bulimia for 20 years before I could finally break free of this addiction. From my experience I have seen that information like this can help people with bulimia and those around them to cope better. Please keep up the good work.

  23. Acrylic says:

    Educating children is the beginning of their own parents. If parents eat too much then the child will also do the same thing, not just the problem of obesity but the whole attitude of parents

  24. Very informative article.
    Thank you for sharing it with us.

  25. Joanne says:

    As a mother of 4 girls and someone who was chubby growing up I am saddened to hear there are still parents like MeMe Roth sending such messages to their children

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