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Jul 12

Child Obesity vs Body Image

This week is National Childhood Obesity Week and the timing is interesting as it comes straight after a government recommendation that all school children should take part in compulsory body image and self-esteem lessons.

What do you think these lessons will entail?

We have two extreme issues here – on the one hand our children are getting fatter due to a more sedentary lifestyle of computer games and lack of physical sporting activities. Tested against this are the children who want to mirror the images they see of models and celebrities in magazines and on TV. Many of these images are of unrealistic bodies – digitally manipulated which only goes to exacerbate the reality gap.

It seems we either eat without boundaries or control or starve to aspire to the shape and size of unrealistic images. 1.6 million people in the UK have an eating disorder, and more than half the public have a negative body image.

This is a huge number and if, as research suggests, most children reflect their own parents’  we are in for an explosion of problems – or are we already there?

I hope these lessons will teach children about the need for healthy eating and good exercise. We need to tell children that appearance is not everything but that if you are too fat or too thin you are likely to be unwell – therefore not something to aspire to. I hope through these compulsory school lessons children learn to understand that a balanced lifestyle will make them much happier in the long run. At least they may can have the opportunity to consider a different outlook than the one they may be  getting at home and through the media.

What are your thoughts?

Read childalert feature on “how do we talk to our children about weight, health and body image ? 

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