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Kids labeled as overweight are LESS likely to be physically active: implications for Let’s Move

Posted by on May 20, 2010 in Blog Posts |

Here’s a post from Kataphatic that is a great example of a point I make in my workshops all the time: Children who are labeled as overweight (regardless of BMI) are less likely to be physically active.

“I didn’t hate gym class until I was in fourth grade, when the gym teacher singled me and several other fat kids out for extra gym classes and an “exercise worksheet” that I had to do at home (sit ups, push ups, stuff like that). Oh the shame of having to hang that thing on the fridge, not only as a visible reminder to the whole family that I was a fatty fat fatty, but also to remind me every time that I wanted to eat anything out of the fridge that I was a fatty fat fatty (hello eating disorder!).”

This is but one example of how we are harming more than helping with our efforts to combat the “childhood obesity epidemic.” It is one of many that I have heard. It’s not a stretch to think that schools will be doing more of this.

One of the Obama’s Let’s Move summary recommendations states: Developers of local school wellness policies should be encouraged to include strong physical activity components on par with nutrition components. (Oh, and pediatricians and dentists should measure BMI and be sure to do obesity prevention at every opportunity… More labels anyone?)

Take this next quote into account as well from Jon Robison PhD in an article, “The Childhood obesity epidemic,” what is the real problem and what can we do about it? about the very people who will likely be developing those “wellness” policies…

“In a recent study, teachers who were most likely to be involved in a childhood obesity prevention program demonstrated a low level of knowledge related to nutrition and weight control and a very high level of body dissatisfaction and self-reported eating disorders.“ He goes on that eighty-five percent of the teachers recommended very low calorie diets (one of the most discredited diet strategies of all with a greatest potential to harm) to adolescents- many of whom were also in their adolescent growth spurt.

Just saying. Kataphatic brings it home. Generalizing and funding a wide-scale repetition of her experience makes me want to scream (and home school.)

On another note, I still remember as part of the Presidential Fitness program (which Let’s Move is trying to expand, expand, expand) I had my skin-fold measured which we were told measured body fat. Though I was crazy fit and swam and ran competitively, I had the highest measure. I still remember Mr. B announcing it and feeling embarrassed and confused. I can only imagine if I was bigger or was teased how that would have compounded things. The point is, it was a big deal. It is etched on my memory. (My friend and track rival had the lowest level, which was also a boasting point for her…) How pointless it all was, with such potential for harm.

What were your experiences in school around weight and physical activity? Did well-meaning interventions hurt you?
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