I consider this article very important because it discusses another aspect of “body engineering” children in order to fit into societally acceptable norms—making short children, who are often teased for their shortness–rather than addressing the root problem of societal body discrimination.
The last quote is the all-important caveat.
Until research findings such as these were available, it was easy to assume that anything that could make the shorter person taller would be desirable, because of commonly accepted negative stereotypes associated with short stature and predictable experiences of teasing and juvenilization at younger ages,. In fact, in 2003, the FDA approved growth hormone (GH) to promote accelerated growth and adult height in the shortest 1.2% of children and adolescents who do not have any detectable medical problems. GH had previously been approved for treating youths with GH deficiency; in this case, medication was substituting for a hormone that these children’s bodies were not producing on their own. GH was then given to children with other medical conditions; for example, Prader-Willi in which metabolic benefits from treatment have been reported.
And at the end of the article:
My concern over the FDA approval of GH for healthy, short children is that medical treatment may send the wrong message. You possibly communicate to the child that something is wrong—so wrong that it justifies daily injections for years. Currently, little to no consideration is given to the potential psychological harm that treatment could inflict on the child we seek to help. And by “treating” short stature in healthy children, medicine is reinforcing the social forces that maintain negative stereotypes about short people. (5) There will always be individuals below any cutoff adopted to set the limit between “normal” from “abnormal” height. Therefore, even if the individual with short stature were to receive psychosocial benefit from GH (a benefit that has not been demonstrated), it is only because others remain shorter.
Over time, more and more treatments will blur the line between what we consider medically necessary versus enhancement. In deciding how to use these treatments, we need to focus on evidence, like patient-reported quality of life—especially when treating young people who rely on their parents and healthcare professionals to make proper decisions on their behalf.
~ David E. Sandberg, Ph.D.
Which is the same thing as putting fat kids on diets, or on over-vigorous forced exercise regimes, or shaming them for their BMIs, etc. By “treating” fatness in healthy fat children, medicine is reinforcing the negative stereotypes about fat people.