So the school district where I work has a health promotion obesity prevention initiative going on. The all-day nurses' meeting was about that. The first issue I had was the presenters were not that great. I actually was looking forward to this talk because 1. this is what my final project is on and 2. I feel strongly about this issue -- I would love it if I could help prevent another person from having to feel what I feel on a daily basis about myself. The presenters kept bumbling through the presentation and had a hard time regaining the attention of the nurses after the many, many exercises they gave us to do (and by exercises, I really mean exercises...push ups and such). The other thing I didn't like was the emphasis that was placed on BMI's and targeting the kids that were already over weight and obese. Yes, I get it, these are the kids at a higher risk for disease. I get that they need help. I also get that ALL kids benefit from a healthy lifestyle, not just those that are obese. There's also an underlying feeling that because these kids (and adults) who look different because of weight are targets for the unhealthy-police. The kids that are thin might get missed. Being thin does not automatically exclude you from disease. All kids should be exposed to health-promoting education and activities. Most kids should not be put on a calorie restrictive diet. Rather they should increase fruits and vegetables, decrease screen time, increase activities and decrease sugar, especially sodas and 'grow' into their weight. And again, ALL kids should be doing this. This was the message of the lecture, but not sure if that's the message that got heard. These were some of the questions and comments coming from the audience:
"I call parents up and tell them their kid's excess weight is preventable"
um...as a parent I'm going to respond to this how? Why don't you just say, "hey you dumbass parent stop feeding your kids sugar and get him off the coach!" --
I have one kid who is tall and skinny, and another who is tall and built like a line-backer. The linebacker is in Karate and swimming....he's solid, but with a baby face and a tummy -- we limit sodas and desserts to the weekend, he gets a ton of fruits and veggies (because I am a fruit and veggie nazi, and even sneak them in some of the main dishes, on top of having them as side dishes). If I got a call like that, I'd freak out.
The nurse at the school where my younger son goes was sitting in front of me and I whispered to her that she didn't actually need to call me about my kid. She laughed.
"How do you tell a parent their kid is fat?"
um, you don't!
You tell the parent if the kid needs to be screened for high blood pressure or other issues. You send home information about resources, nutrition and exercise.
"Do I just call every parent with a kid who has a high BMI"
Thankfully the head of nursing addressed this. Right now collecting BMIs are for data purposes only. IF there is an issue like high blood pressure that corresponds with the BMI you mention to the parents that the kiddo has a high BP, oh and his BMI is whatever.
It was also addressed that some kids, especially those in sports, have skewed BMIs because of their muscle mass.
Not one of these nurses was mean, catty or without sympathy. It's a genuine desire to make sure the kids of the district are healthy.
We just don't know how to talk about weight in this society. We don't know what to do with it. We don't know how to handle it. We want to judge people who are over weight, we want to judge ourselves when we are over weight.
It's a complex, multifaceted issue that can't be solved quickly. Especially if you want to solve it with preserving the self-esteem of some of these guys.
In the mean time....health promotion for ALL students is something we can shoot for.
Did I speak up?
because who is going to listen to the fat chick about anything to do with obesity prevention and health promotion.