How do we talk with children about weight in a healthy way? Some schools send report cards to parents to measure students’ body mass index (BMI) using their height and weight. Researchers found that this did not reduce the risk of obesity in any way. In fact, the children who received the health report cards, became less happy with their own weight compared to children whose schools did not report about weight. Researchers also found that the way we talk about weight is important. For example, using a word like “obesity” can be very discouraging for children and parents. A study from the United Kingdom found that more children and young people today see themselves as overweight compared to 2-3 decades ago, regardless of their actual weight. Youth who thought they were overweight were also more likely to have symptoms of depression, especially girls. In contrast, youth who see their weight as “just about right” tend to live a healthier lifestyle and have fewer symptoms of depression. Being happy with your body can protect you from poor health, so it is important that strategies to reduce childhood obesity do not harm the way children view their weight. It may help more to make school lunches healthier or charge tax on soda.


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