Are Anti-Obesity Campaigns In Schools Sparking Eating Disorders?

teen obesity treatment helpAwareness of how to live a healthy life with the help of nutrition and exercise education in schools could potentially be life-saving – if not at least life-prolonging – programs with the high rates of obesity in America’s youth. However, many parents are becoming concerned that the approach many of these programs take may not produce the beneficial results intended by their creators. Parents worry the emphasis of many anti-obesity education campaigns is put on not being overweight rather than learning how to live a balanced life that takes exercise and good food choices into account.

The Goal of Anti-Obesity Programs Should Be to Inspire, Not to Inject Fear

The aim of anti-obesity education should be to motivate kids to want to live a long, healthy life with as many options available to them as possible, unhindered by the medical and physical constraints that come with being obese. Nevertheless, in a recent poll given by the C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital, 82 percent of parents reported at least one obesity intervention program in their child’s school with one-third of those surveyed describing at least one red flag in their child’s behavior linked with eating disorders. The behaviors worrying these parents included:

  • Unhealthy dieting habits
  • Excessive exercise
  • Obsessively reading food labels
  • Extreme focus on the fat content in food
  • Unwillingness to eat the meal provided for the family

Parents Want the Clear Focus of Anti-Obesity Programs to Be Health, Not Weight

Parents worry the intention of the anti-obesity programs are lost with how the healthy living message is delivered to the kids. Many of these programs:

  • Provide nutrition education
  • Discuss curbing the choice of junk food in their diet
  • Weigh and measure the students
  • Give incentives for exercising

None of these tactics are destructive in and of themselves. In spite of this, depending on the delivery, there could be an unintentional, somewhat insidious message being received by the kids – fear any fat on your body or in your food.

Weight is a big focus in these programs which, some would say, is an obvious necessity as the whole goal is to get kids to slim down. Nonetheless, concerned parents are saying weight should not be the focus; instead health should be the central take-home message. After all, if you are making healthy choices in your daily life for a sustained period of time in regards to nutrition and exercise, an appropriate weight will eventually follow. It’s not the weight that is the problem per se; it’s the thousands of choices each day that result in obesity that are the issue.

If you are concerned about your teen’s focus on their weight, contact us today. It is never too early to treat an eating disorder. When caught in the beginning stages, a teen’s disordered eating habits respond much easier to treatment. Give us a call now.

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