A father who placed his nine-year-old on a strict diet after noticing she had "a bit of a belly" has been slammed online for putting her at risk of an eating disorder.
The 34-year-old man turned to Reddit's popular 'Am I the Asshole' section to ask if he was being unreasonable enforcing the eating plan on his daughter, who he parents with his ex-wife.
Explaining that his daughter had started to put on weight, the man wrote that he noticed she "has a belly which hangs over her waistband, and she wears [size] 12-13 clothes despite being only nine."
He says his ex-wife "got defensive" when he tried to talk to her about it, pointing out their daughter plays sport twice a week.
"I know weight gets harder to lose the older you get so I decided to keep a close eye and do what I could on her weeks with me," he wrote.
"I did not put her on a crash diet but I did start using a portion control plate and packing lean lunches instead of letting her buy her food - carrot sticks, yogurt, flavoured steamed chicken breast etc.
"I also took her to the gym with me four times a week."
He says he told his daughter they were "working to set her up for the future being physically fit and mindful of what she eats".
But things came to a head when his daughter went to a birthday party and had to take snacks to share.
"I'm trying to show my kid that snacks can be healthy, so I sent her with a bag of veggie sticks and hummus. She made a little fuss about not getting candy but seemed fine."
At the sleepover the little girl refused to eat any pizza food, and began crying that "she was going to get fat".
"[She] told the other kids that they were gonna get fat and unhealthy because their parents gave them those snacks. She said she had to eat the veggies so she could lose weight, and she wasn't allowed any popcorn."
The man wrote that his ex-wife "blames me for giving [our daughter] a complex when she was healthy and active".
"I said if she was healthy she wouldn't have a belly and be bigger than other girls. I said that at least I cared about what the girl puts in her mouth… Now ex is telling me she won't send her back to me if I don't stop 'emotionally damaging' her. "
The post has racked up more than 2000 comments, mostly from people slamming the man's forceful parenting.
"Man, your daughter is NINE. She is a little chubby, for what you have said, and she was CRYING because she was scared if she ate anything. For christ's sake, [you're the asshole] and you are f**king your daughter's life up. What the actual hell you think you are doing?" one person wrote.
"I appreciate that you are looking out for your daughter, but this is completely the wrong way to go about it. She is scared to eat pizza or popcorn? Really?? Yeah, she may have a little baby fat on her but she's nine and hasn't hit puberty yet," wrote another.
One woman pointed out that dieting is an "uphill battle" for women.
"This is the world we - girls and women - live in. We are constantly inundated with messages and images that we are not enough, worthless. It leads to mental health issues, eating disorders, abusive relationships, self-harm, substance abuse, and death.
"You haven't done the bare minimum to support your daughter in a society that is mentally and physically dangerous for girls and women. YOU are the health threat. Not her stomach fat. YOU."
A 2018 study published in children's health journal Pediatrics found that weight shaming, or stress on dieting over healthy eating, can lead to a cycle of disordered eating and poor self-esteem in children.