I attended the Eat, Move Thrive - Children in Scotland Health & Wellbeing Conference yesterday at the Hilton Grosvenor Hotel. I am going to re-iterate some of the information that I heard, and some of the thoughts that it sparked in me.
It seems that in the world of health, we are continually worried about the 'overweight' children and how at risk they are. Are overweight children at risk? Ellen Satter answers, "In truth, a growing child at the upper percentile is highly likely to be just fine. What is critical is how consistent the child's growth is over time. At all times, a child's growth must be interpreted in the context of that child's own history. It cannot be interpreted on the basis of an arbitary cut off"
The bigger picture is that if a child is exposed to dieting then they are more likely to be overweight as an adult, and this brings about significant risk. Weight cycling (so changing in weight) is a risk factor for all-cause mortabilty and cardiovascular mortality (SIGN Guidelines, Feb 2010). So instead of focusing on a child's weight, and trying to manage their weight, we should be promoting a child's wellbeing (as well as adults). Promote wellbeing by sound nutrition, active living, emotional resilience, feeling valued, body confidence and equal opportunities.
What happens when we focus on weight?
We have a fear of eating, and food preoccupation; weight stigma and bullying; body hatred; weight gain and risky behaviours; and exclipses other important factors (Aphramor). Therefore, we need to look at having a balanced approach. A balanced approach recognises that people come in all shapes and sizes whilst remembering that food meets nutritional, social, cultural and emotional needs. We should encourage children to discover for themselves how food influences their bodies e.g. if i skip breakfast, I feel. Additionally, we should factor in social justice to wellbeing e.g. does the young person feel valued in society?
Health at Every Size
Healthy and pleasurable eating
Enjoyable physical activity
Self and societal acceptance for everybody
Scientific and ethical healthcare practice.
Goals and outcomes:
A fair society
Healthy relationship with food
Good self worth and body acceptance
Trust in yourself and your body.
Feel in control.
Feel well without the misery of dieting. Help our young people, not with weight management, but with compassion and understanding and helping them accept themselves.
Key points for kids:
Tune into your body signals helps you feel good.
Trying to atler your weight by ignoring your hunger signals is NOT effective in the long term.
Being mean to people is not okay.
You are loved and valued whatever you way.
You are cared for and people want you to be healthy.
Tracy Donachie, MSc in Performance Psychology.