5 Ways to Promote Children’s Health Without Fat-Shaming

What does a “bad body” look like? Childrenácertainly have some interesting opinions.

As early as age 6, girls may look in the mirror andábegin to worry about their shape. Kids mayájeer at different bodies on playgrounds,áas adultsácast blameáon “irresponsible”áparents.

Young peopleáare an especially vulnerable population when it comes to ideas about body image. As National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month kicks off, it’s important to avoid fat-shamingákids. After all, the impacts have lifelong negative effects — from eating disorders to low self-worth.

Here’s how to make sureáchildrenástay healthy,áwithout theáshame often inherent inádiscussingáobesity.

1.áProtect Physical Education

Across the country,áschool districtsáareáslashing physical educationáto save money. But we need to push schools to promote physical activity, from sportsáand recess to P.E.

That means we must adequatelyáfundápublic schools, so they don’t have to cut these essential programs in the first place.

2. Stop Bullying

Other kids are more likely to dislike and bully children if they are fat. And who can blame them, whenáadults do it too?

Even the American Academy of Pediatrics recommendsáthatáweátackle bullying for the sake of children’s health.

Schools, parents, faculty and other students need to stepáup.áStomp Out Bullyingáoffers some useful resources for bullying intervention.

3. Support Healthy School Lunches

Obesity in the U.S.ádisproportionately affects the poor. A lack of access to fresh produceáand theácomparatively high cost ofáhealthy foodsáplays a role.

One solution is to improve school lunches, helping low-incomeástudents on free and reduced-priced programs.áBut existing laws don’t even guaranteeáthat children have a vegetarian meal option.

Supporting programs like the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program can also help.áThese efforts allow kids to eat healthyámeals at home too.

4.áFocusáon Health, Not Looks

The Student Body” follows student filmmaker Bailey Webber as she investigatesáwhy some public schools test students for their body mass index, or BMI.

Webber notesáthat most scientists consider BMIáto be an inaccurateámeasure of health. She also ends every interview with a request toámeasure the adult interviewee’sáBMI — and almost everyone refused, suggesting that the test wasátoo invasive.

Demand thatápoliticians support children’s health care programs instead of arbitrary measurements.

5. Teach Body Positivity

Every body is a good body, but not enough kids hear this.

As Portland Pediatric Nutrition notes, a 2016 study shows that children whose parents criticize their weight grow up with negative body image. Plus, when peers and adults label teen and preteen girls “too fat,” they’re more likely to become obese later on.

Demand that other children, schools, health care professionals and politicians stop shaming kids for their looks. It’s mean,ácounterproductive and absolutely unhealthy.

Photo Credit: USDA/Flickr

40 comments

Stephanie s
Stephanie s6 days ago

Thank you

SEND
Stephanie s
Stephanie s6 days ago

Thank you

SEND
Kathryn I
Kathryn I24 days ago

Also, bullying can lead to stress eating, which leads to weight gain. Thank you for sharing.

SEND
Angela K
Angela Kabout a month ago

noted

SEND
Stephanie s
Stephanie sabout a month ago

Thank you

SEND
Stephanie s
Stephanie sabout a month ago

Thank you

SEND
Stephanie s
Stephanie sabout a month ago

Thank you

SEND
One Heart i
One Heart incabout a month ago

Thanks!!!

SEND
Colin C
Colin Cabout a month ago

Thanks

SEND
Winn A
Winn Aabout a month ago

Thanks

SEND