1. It doesn’t take into account the non-physical, multi-layered reasons for obesity and indeed all health issues.
2.This current move of the NSW government is tantamount to naming and shaming both parent and child. The attitude taken is hardly protective, in fact, it’s the opposite.
3.It is discriminatory, divisive, and dismissive.
4.It breaches boundaries of the child, the parent and the teacher. Teachers are not police or social workers, they are trained to educate.
The last thing an overweight person and particularly a vulnerable child needs, (whose voice by and large is not heard anyway in a paternalistic society where the child is still seen to be ‘unfinished’ and in need of constant counsel), is for non-compassionate labeling. Being overweight is not a crime but a result of a plethora of factors, the most pivotal one being the emotional and psychological state of the child who is obese.
ignorant societal stance on, (yes I’ll say the F word, FAT), is that it is a result of laziness, poor eating and exercise habits and generally being slovenly. The prescribed antidote is to get active, eat well and stop being a slob.
We have a barbaric attitude to the overweight. We mock them, often see them as inadequate human beings, disrespect them, marginalize them and put an immense amount of pressure on them to conform to some strange standards that often incite or exacerbate any current eating disorders they already present.
Shows like the Biggest Loser regale punishing routines and sensationalist journeys for entertainment purposes that we, the public only see one face of this; that of success. Dig deeper and you’ll find that a large percentage of those contestants on such shows not only return to their pre-show weight and actually gain weight and suffer serious self- esteem and psychological issues as a consequence.
Even science knows that there are people who eat and exercise right who fail to meet the preferred health standards. Then there are people who eat excessively, the wrong foods and do no physical activity who miraculously never gain weight.
How can this be if there is an unrefutable link between food and weight?
Weight issues are rooted in our psyches that then affect our biology. When a child feels stressed or unhappy any doctor will tell you that increased cortisol is released. The body goes into fright or flight, ‘protection’ mode, storing rather than using energy reserves.
The current epidemic of obesity is not due to laziness but it’s due to a society whose values are up for reappraisal.
Would it be plausible that weight is intrinsically connected to the amount of personal power we feel? Are we actually truly serving and protecting our kids appropriately by viewing obesity through this popularised, narrow lens? Are we missing the true point?
Our economic and work demands eventuate with reduced breastfeeding protocol (formula milk lays down a greater number of fat cells) which not only impacts their physical health in terms of digestion, and processing of foods, but is also known to support a host of social and emotional benefits that impact both psychological and physical health.
We also institutionalize our kids way to early. Children are not designed to be away from their parents for long periods of time. Their well-being; mental, physical and emotional revolves around feeling safe, loved and valued. Governmental pushes to increase Child Care and put kids into schools earlier than they already do will not build a future generation of happy, well children. In fact, it’s clearly doing the opposite.
The model of dealing with children is broken and our kids are showing the fallout of this through their bodies. One of the ways this is being exposed is via the obesity crisis. It’s not an obesity crisis, it’s a blatant sign that we as a society, need to re-evaluate our current structures and perspectives Many of them are literally not fit for human consumption.
If we really want to protect our children, if we really wish to parent them consciously and keep them healthy we need to create a new, more compassionate, wise model for the whole of society that puts the holistic well-being of children at its centre.
Read more on childhood obesity in a previously published article: “Is Fat the Messenger?” here.
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