Hardly a day goes by without a headline warning of the dire consequences of our kids’ increasing weights and BMIs (body mass indices). Yes, we know that obesity leads to many chronic health conditions, from diabetes and heart disease, to joint and breathing problems. All too often, however, I have seen the negative consequences of focusing exclusively on a child or adolescent’s weight and body mass index. I am seeing an increase in the number of kids and teens on diets and I am also seeing an increase in eating disorders and disordered eating as a result. I believe there must be a middle ground — and a different way of reacting to expanding waistlines.
I believe this middle ground is a philosophy called Health at Every Size (HAES) and a way of eating called “Intuitive Eating.” Simply put, we change the focus from the number on the scale, to healthy behaviors from the inside out. We must educate families to take an active role in preventing weight issues in kids. Embracing a healthy lifestyle means honoring and respecting our genetic body types, fueling them with health promoting, satisfying foods, learning to distinguish between physical and emotional hunger and moving our bodies because it just feels good!
Having taught weight management programs for overweight children in the past, I have seen the stress levels caused by frequent weight checks on a scale.