The rising, and often startling, rates of obesity in the United States and many other parts of the world have led to an increased awareness of the health issues facing modern consumers, and of the issues facing their children, as well. Childhood obesity has recently been selected as a major national challenge by First Lady Michelle Obama, and a growing number of professionals in various fields are working towards helping children overcome this potentially debilitating concern. But in some cases, notes a counselor specializing in weight loss in a recent editorial, authority figures may approach childhood obesity in rash and embarrassing ways, potentially adding to the struggles of children attempting to work through their weight issues.
In particular, the counselor notes, weighing children in schools and sending judgmental notes home to parents about children’s weight may have a profoundly negative impact on self-esteem, and can also cause humiliation within the social setting of elementary, middle, and high schools. As some schools have proposed just such measures, the counselor suggests that some professionals have taken on unhelpful roles in the fight against childhood obesity, acting as disciplinarians rather than compassionate and insightful sources of information and support for children in need.
The counselor suggests that school officials and other professionals take a more relaxed approach, doing their best to offer scientific information about diet, nutrition, exercise, and other important topics without making children feel guilty or pathologized because of their weight. As a growing number of adults work towards helping children lead healthier and happier lives, the need to support children emotionally and mentally along with facilitating better physical habits is becoming increasingly clear. In his piece, the counselor suggests that this need must be heeded by schools if meaningful progress against obesity is to take place.
© Copyright 2010 by By Noah Rubinstein, LMFT, LMHC, therapist in Olympia, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.
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