mental health

Is This The Start Of An Epidemic?

It was brought to my attention recently ,that in our primary schools, children are being weighed. Now before you jump down my throat, I understand the problems with obesity are very real and in some cases need to be addressed. What I don’t agree with, is that children, some as young as 5 years old are being asked to step on the scale. If it wasn’t enough to be bombarded with diet talk, weight loss tips and judgement as an ADULT, we are now forcing on our children. Children who have no understanding behind the concept of BMI, who won’t understand that being athletic and more active than some of their chums means that they will weigh more due to muscle and not fat. Try and explain that to a 9 year old when a lot of adults I meet still can’t get to grips with it.

At what point did we stop letting kids be just that, kids? At what point did we start equating weight (and lack of it) to happiness? We should be teaching this brand new generation that their worth is not dictated by weight, that being ‘skinny’ doesn’t equal success of popularity.

It breaks my heart to know young children are worrying about what they’re eating, poking their still growing tummies and asking if it means they’re fat. Is that the worst thing someone can be? Is this what we are showing them, that to be fat is the worst possible thing? Not being cruel, greedy, vindictive or rude?  I can’t say for sure it’s because of ‘The National Child Measurement Programme’ that children are having these thoughts and worries but surely it can’t be helping? Putting so much emphasis on something that is already so widely talked about. In a world already so dominated by self-hate, self-doubt and body issues aren’t we just adding to the problem?

If (and that’s a big if) obesity is cause for concern , surely there are better ways to tackle it?I’ve experienced first hand the look of worry on a child’s face when presented with a piece of fried food, because they had ‘bad’ food the day before and couldn’t possibly have ‘bad’ food two days in a row. When did we start this ridiculous notion of good foods and bad foods? Just because some foods have more calories, fats or sugars they are all of a sudden deemed as ‘bad’. Having kale over a cookie doesn’t mean you’ve had a ‘good’ day if you’re still obsessing over that cookie hours later. By all means, if kale is your thing then enjoy it! But obsession is not going to lead you to happiness, in fact it will probably result in the opposite. you’re not healthy if your mental health is suffering.

So we should quit it, quit basing our worth around food! Quit basing our worth on weight and quit drumming into our children that thinness = happiness, because news flash, it doesn’t! Instead we should be teaching little ones the art of self love, consideration towards others and how to grow up into a decent human. Because what could be better than children growing up with full knowledge that it’s okay to love yourself, be healthy (mentally and physically) and to build others up rather than knock them down.

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