Submitted by TEPF Volunteer
In today’s world when we talk about health issues, we focus our attention on cancer and obesity and what are the causes for these conditions. We know that we can help alleviate the obesity epidemic by educating children, adolescents and young adults about the health conditions that obesity causes e.g. heart disease, diabetes, hypertension and high cholesterol. Part of this education also informs children how certain foods can contribute to these health conditions. Now that children are aware about the health issue, have they completely avoided certain foods like potato chips, soda, ice cream, desserts because they are afraid that they will get a heart attack, diabetes, hypertension or high cholesterol? This article is about how Anti-Obesity Programs in public schools may contribute to children displaying unhealthy eating habits that could lead to eating disorders.
Along with the nutrition education, the anti-obesity program is also informing the audience about height and weight measurements, increasing physical activity, and BMI. The students are learning about which measurements fall into the “danger” zone of obesity. The students may take the information and overanalyze everything they do or eat throughout the day and may develop some patterns of eating disorders.
I think it is important to find a balance in nutrition education in public schools. Yes, we want students to be aware of the consequences of obesity but also be aware the consequences of eating disorders. The language used in these anti-obesity programs should be used careful and not promote unhealthy eating habits that could develop into eating disorders. It is important to inform students about normal eating and healthy coping skills. Students should learn how to understand and listen to their bodies under certain conditions e.g. stress, anxiety, sadness, happiness. Students should learn how to balance their lives and know what is normal. Also the definition of healthy should be used carefully because a healthy lifestyle is different for every.