Nearly a third of American youth are overweight or obese, with some communities experiencing significantly higher rates of overweight and obesity among children. As it turns out, body shaming parents and health care providers may be unwittingly hindering efforts to curb childhood obesity. Body shaming parents, teachers, and physicians may not even realize that they are shaming overweight kids in how they discuss the issue, so an effort to educate all members of the public regarding childhood obesity is warranted.
A recent report published by the American Academy of Pediatrics issued recommendations to adults and the media on how to effectively address obesity in children and adolescents. For one thing, they emphasized that obesity is not an issue of poor self-control or carelessness, but rather a health condition with complex roots ranging from socioeconomics to family history to mental health.
The idea that overweight or obesity is a conscious choice among youth is simply not true and can underlie teasing, bullying, and blaming, none of which motivate youth to lose weight; shaming overweight kids for their eating habits and level of physical activity has been proven to be an ineffective tactic. The crux of this report contends that this conception of childhood of obesity has actually exacerbated the problem, leading to an increased risk of binge eating disorders, social isolation, more weight gain, and avoidance of physical activity and school.
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