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

What does a “bad body” look like? Children†certainly have some interesting opinions.

As early as age 6, girls may look in the mirror and†begin to worry about their shape. Kids may†jeer at different bodies on playgrounds,†as adults†cast blame†on “irresponsible”†parents.

Young people†are 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-shaming†kids. After all, the impacts have lifelong negative effects — from eating disorders to low self-worth.

Here’s how to make sure†children†stay healthy,†without the†shame often inherent in†discussing†obesity.

1.†Protect Physical Education

Across the country,†school districts†are†slashing physical education†to save money. But we need to push schools to promote physical activity, from sports†and recess to P.E.

That means we must adequately†fund†public 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, when†adults do it too?

Even the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends†that†we†tackle bullying for the sake of children’s health.

Schools, parents, faculty and other students need to step†up.†Stomp Out Bullying†offers some useful resources for bullying intervention.

3. Support Healthy School Lunches

Obesity in the U.S.†disproportionately affects the poor. A lack of access to fresh produce†and the†comparatively high cost of†healthy foods†plays a role.

One solution is to improve school lunches, helping low-income†students on free and reduced-priced programs.†But existing laws don’t even guarantee†that children have a vegetarian meal option.

Supporting programs like the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program can also help.†These efforts allow kids to eat healthy†meals at home too.

4.†Focus†on Health, Not Looks

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

Webber notes†that most scientists consider BMI†to be an inaccurate†measure of health. She also ends every interview with a request to†measure the adult interviewee’s†BMI — and almost everyone refused, suggesting that the test was†too invasive.

Demand that†politicians 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,†counterproductive and absolutely unhealthy.

Photo Credit: USDA/Flickr

43 comments

Marie W
Marie W4 months ago

Thank you for sharing!

SEND
Stephanie s
Stephanie Y7 months ago

Thank you

SEND
Stephanie s
Stephanie Y7 months ago

Thank you

SEND
Stephanie s
Stephanie Y9 months ago

Thank you

SEND
Stephanie s
Stephanie Y9 months ago

Thank you

SEND
Kathryn I
Kathryn I9 months ago

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

SEND
Angela K
Angela K10 months ago

noted

SEND
Stephanie s
Stephanie Y10 months ago

Thank you

SEND
Stephanie s
Stephanie Y10 months ago

Thank you

SEND
Stephanie s
Stephanie Y10 months ago

Thank you

SEND