Children know that ‘fat’ is more than a physical description of body mass, but a negative assessment of physical attractiveness and moral worth. There is a clear connection in the public mind between the generously-waisted and the indiscreet, the lazy, the pitiful, the asexual and the wildly out of control.
The teenage years are critical moments for the development of self- identity and self-esteem. They couldn’t be a worse time to tell kids that their developing bodies are an eye sore and evidence of poor moral character.
Fat talk is also doomed to fail. The counterproductive behavioural circularity that begins with low self-esteem is familiar to addiction counsellors, and is no less evident in the testimony of the overweight. It goes something like this: failing to lose weight proves you’re a bad person, which leads you to need that chocolate bar to comfort yourself for being so bad.
So, no more preaching about the depravity of fat. Instead, let’s teach our children how to nurture themselves by eating and behaving in ways that lead to good health.
On Changing the Way We Deal with Child Obesity ABC Radio National