My husband sent me a link to a story he read on the Internet yesterday about a school in Massachusetts who sent home letters to parents letting them know that their child was obese. (The school told reporters that they were also sending out letters to parents whose children were classified as underweight.)
I really have mixed feelings about this issue because on one hand there is a very real obesity problem among children in every state in the nation but on the other hand, I hate for children to feel badly about their appearance or feel singled out from their peers. That is never a good thing.
Here’s a map from the CDC that shows obesity rates among just high school children from 2011.
The school indicated that they were just trying to help parents gain awareness about their children’s weight.
I know a lot of parents who do have a blind spot when it comes to their child’s weight and as a parent myself, I completely understand how sensitive a topic this is. No parent wants to hear that their child is overweight because no matter who it comes from, that feels like a judgement on the parent.
In fact it often is. Now I completely understand that there are some kids who are absolutely genetically predisposed to weight gain or have medical conditions that cause them to gain weight. I get that.
But I also see firsthand what some parents feed their kids both at home and in restaurants. And it is not always great. In fact sometimes it is downright terrible.
I know people who let their 5-year-olds have a couple of sodas every day and think nothing of it. I see parents feeding their kids junk food on a regular basis and kids who do not remember the last time they had a fresh vegetable. Honestly.
But sending letters home to parents doesn’t seem like the most effective way of helping parents figure out how to make the changes that must be made if we are to optimize our children’s health. And that’s what we are doing when we feed our kids a healthy diet and encourage regular physical activity. We are giving our kids the best possible start in life instead of allowing them to settle for second or third best.
A far better way would be for the school to offer nutritional education to all parents, staff, and faculty in an attempt to spread the message of healthy eating at all ages.
I’ve said it before but it bears repeating. In order to shift the obesity rates back to a downward trend, it is going to take a grassroots, from the ground up, effort. Government regulations aren’t going to do it. It is going to take parents, grandparents, and even educations having a different outlook and making the nutritional changes necessary to optimize every child’s health.
What do you think a school’s role should be in informing parents of potential weight problems in their children? Diane