Fat and Not Afraid

Respect and love are for EVERY body.

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Institutionalized fat-phobia

October 21, 2009

From my Educational Psychology text Second Canadian Edition, pg 37:  Health and Education-Although we have become a health conscious country, many youth and adults do not practise good health habits.  All too many of us eat too much junk food and spend too much time being couch potatoes."

Apparently this is common knowledge as they don't cite a source anywhere near that.  It's one of those 'everybody knows' kinds of things.  And then there's a huge paragraph on school-health programs and the dreaded obesity.  >_<  The rise in obesity rates from 1981-1996 are mentioned, and then of course that it's the tv and internet's fault that these kids are unfit.  (Could it be maybe because the BMI standards were changed?  Or maybe their BMI doesn't/shouldn't matter because it's innaccurate and dangerous to measure a child's BMI?)  The assumption is made that fat=unhealthy.  And then of course, obese children become obese adults, with all the risks that entails. 

However, just pages earlier the text gives a warning that correlation by itself does not equal causation (pg 18).  If correlation does not equal causation, why are they saying that fat kids are automatically unhealthy?  That they're fat because of junk food and too much tv time?  Only in one instance do I see the words 'genetics'  and it's from Gingras (2001); She maintains that obesity is a complex problem that is partly genetic and partly environmental.    The suggestion is then made to simply limit tv and internet time since kids are spending 3-4 hours a day on these activities instead of outside playing or on 'school-related activities' like homework.  I read somewhere else, that I can't get my hands on right now, that the average 3rd grader actually spends 3 hours a day running around, not at the tv.  If there's 24 hours in a day, 8 of which are spent asleep, 8 of it at school, that leaves 8 full hours before and after school for whatever kids want to do; soccer practise, WoW tournaments, hopscotch and skipping, track meet, paintball, board games, hide and seek, bike/skateboard/rollerblading, browsing the net, playing around on MySpace or Facebook, practising guitar or flute; they should have the choice.  Homework, dinner and family time should fit in there somewhere, but a lot of what I listed can be family activities.

As a teacher, I've heard different things about homework; that it should only be used if kids really didn't finish their work that day in class, so they bring it home.  Sometimes  you should assign extra if its' important to a topic.  Thankfully here in Canada we don't have the craziness of our kids coming home in grade 1 or 2 with an hour or more of homework a night, not yet anyway.  Busy-work is just as annoying for kids as it is for adults and I for one wont be doing it.

Any, I digress;  my point is that my text is showing some obvious problems and is not fat friendly nor a fan of health at every size.  If/when it becomes an issue in class I'll be sure to point out what I know and have picked up from the fatosphere on fat health, the obesity paradox and why worrying about children's weight is counter-productive and in some cases downright dangerous. 

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