We have been bombarded with messages that overweight and obesity in kids as a major health issue.
Yes, there is definitely health issues associated with carrying excess fat on our bodies. BUT, what is far more damaging to kids health, both mentally and physically, is teasing and shaming about their weight.
A recent study shows that the shaming about weight, not the weight itself causes many problems for middle school age children (recent study).
Children who are overweight are often treated differently than typical weight and underweight children.
This different treatment comes not only from other kids, but from adults. When kids are told over and over again that something is wrong with them, because of their weight, it does quite a number on their self-esteem.
That in turn can result in loneliness and depression, which leads to poor school performance, behavior issues, and often eating disorders. If a child is teased or shamed about his weight, he is far more apt to eat in seclusion and binge on high calorie foods (known as binge eating disorder), or to binge and purge by vomiting, using laxatives, or even over exercising (known as bulimia nervosa), or to just to severely limiting eating to lose weight (known as anorexia nervosa).
These eating disorders are far, far more dangerous to a child’s health than just being overweight or even obese.
We want to help kids to be as healthy as possible, regardless of their weight!
- ALL kids need to eat a healthy balance of foods from all food groups that includes a variety of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes, protein, and fats.
- ALL kids need to limit foods made with added sugar and refined starches (e.g., white flour).
- ALL kids need to fuel themselves with a full breakfast before they start their day—any kid who skips breakfast is going to have a harder time focusing and learning at school.
- ALL kids need to be active and limit sedentary time. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no more than 2 hours per day of screen entertainment for kids of all ages and gives lots of ideas on how to limit screen time (ideas to limit screen time).
- ALL kids need to be treated with love and respect, and need to be taught to understand and respect themselves and diversity (race, religion, body size, gender, etc, etc).
If we focus on ways to help all kids be healthy, regardless of shape or size, we will raise a generation of healthy adults.