Bite Size

Movie review by
Sandie Angulo Chen, Common Sense Media
Bite Size Movie Poster Image
Powerful documentary depicts obese kids' struggles.
  • NR
  • 2015
  • 90 minutes

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The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Themes include compassion and perseverance. Promotes parental involvement in kids' diet and exercise habits and in getting kids to move more and eat less. Statistics about lower-income kids and diabetes are staggering and make it clear that childhood obesity is a wide-ranging disease that causes not only health issues but emotional and psychological problems. Also makes it obvious why it's wrong to ridicule or tease obese children.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Several of the parents are incredibly involved and sympathetic when it comes to helping their children lose weight. Others initially seem insensitive but eventually change their ways -- including their own behavior and eating/cooking habits. The kids recognize they need to eat less and move more to be healthier, but they also recognize and acknowledge how tough their situation feels.

Violence

A girl recalls bullying, constant teasing, and how even friends said they were embarrassed to be seen with her. A boy says people bully and are mean to him, and he almost wants to get in a fight with them. A father has a heart attack. An adult shares that, as an overweight teen, she suffered from depression and attempted suicide several times. Other references to teasing and name-calling.

Sex
Language

Kids say they've been called "big blob," "big a--," "fat a--," "fatness," "fat whale," "cow," "cheeseburger," and so on. A father matter-of-factly calls his son a "fat little pig," a "couch potato," and "lazy."

Consumerism

Because it's a documentary, there are some brands visible in the film, though they're not there through paid product placement. Businesses, logos, and products include The Fudgery (at Disney World), Starbucks, Jeep, Nintendo, Goya, Organic Valley, Juicy Juice, Mountain Dew, Cheetos, Buzz Lightyear, Jell-O, Coca-Cola, and so on.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Bite Size is a thought-provoking, occasionally heartbreaking documentary about the way childhood obesity affects individuals, families, communities, and society as a whole. The film follows four kids from different parts of the country who are all struggling with obesity. They may have different backgrounds, but they share a constant battle with their weight, health, and body image -- not to mention bullying from cruel peers (or, in one case, an insensitive parent). There's occasional insult language ("fat pig," "fatass," "lazy," "couch potato"), and the kids all recall times when they were teased, embarrassed, or provoked by classmates and even supposed friends. One boy gets in a fight with someone who calls him a name at football camp. It's emotionally intense, but even older elementary school-age kids will be able to handle this documentary and discuss the importance of healthy living via diet and exercise -- as well as being sympathetic to overweight peers.

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What's the story?

BITE SIZE is a documentary about the United States' childhood obesity epidemic. It follows four overweight children, their families, and the nutritionists, medical providers, and educators trying to help them. Sports lover Davion, 12, suffers from type 2 diabetes and has trouble with running across a field, but he still hopes to be on the local football team. Video game aficionado Moises ("Moy"), 11, deals with an unsympathetic dad and a concerned mom who forces him to join an after-school health program. Emily is comparatively privileged and attended a weight-loss boarding-school program that helped her lose 80 pounds from her high of 213 at age 12, but back home she has trouble maintaining her healthy habits. And then there's KeAnna from the Mississippi Delta, who's involved with a middle school program for overweight kids called Si Se Puede that's run by a compassionate school counselor who herself deals with weight issues.

Is it any good?

This documentary is important because it will teach healthy kids how difficult obese kids have it -- and how damaging cruel words can be. Filmmaker Corbin Billings takes an intimate approach to a familiar topic. He doesn't bombard the audience with statistics but instead focuses on the kids and their parents and communities -- making the issue come to life in an authentic and at times heartbreaking way. It's maddening but not surprising that these four kids have all dealt with bullying and teasing. Emily admits that even supposed friends told her they were embarrassed to be seen with her. And Moy has to deal with a dad who thinks he's well-meaning but who doesn't model good behavior (he loves junk food) and who has a penchant for criticizing and shaming his son. Moy's father (who later struggles with his own health issues) clearly represents how tough it is for obese kids to feel supported and understood. One of the sweetest people in the movie is KeAnna's counselor, Lisa, who works tirelessly to teach a group of overweight girls about making better food choices, moving their bodies, and learning to love themselves at any size.

Bite Size also shows how parents of obese kids need to rise to the occasion and encourage, not criticize, their children. This may not always be an easy-to-watch documentary (as when a woman confesses to teens that, as an obese adolescent, she attempted suicide, or when Emily desperately tries to understand why she can't sate her hunger), but it's worth watching with your tweens and teens. More information is available at the film's official site.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the role of documentaries vs. fictional movies. Should kids and teens watch documentaries like Bite Size in addition to other movies? What purpose do they serve? Do you think documentaries need to be totally objective?

  • What does Bite Size teach viewers about childhood obesity? How could this documentary affect kids who struggle with their weight? What about kids who don't have weight issues?

  • How do media and media consumption affect the kids in the movie? Were their struggles surprising? Do you think they'll be able to meet their weight and health goals? What role does weight play in body-image issues?

  • How does the movie handle bullying? Do the kids' experiences seem realistic and relatable? What can kids learn from their experiences?

  • How does Bite Size promote compassion and perseverance? Why are these important character strengths?

Movie details

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