Despite the Best of Intentions, Healthy Eating Messages Could Have Harmful Consequences

Childhood obesity rates have almost tripled since the 1980s.1 Since the attitudes of parents, caregivers and physicians can have a lasting impact on children, it is vital that healthy eating messages are communicated in a supportive, non-shaming way. This encourages children to make beneficial food choices while maintaining a positive sense of self.2 “Positives are always better than negatives,” says Martha Levine, M.D., director, intensive outpatient and partial hospitalization programs, Penn State Hershey Adolescent Medicine and Eating Disorders division.

Fortunately, schools are becoming more involved with helping children make healthier choices; however, even with the best of intentions, sometimes those messages can have a negative impact. With annual weigh-ins and a “BMI report card,” results can be damaging, even shameful for children who cannot yet fully understand proper context or have the maturity yet to process it properly. The focus can turn to weight without a focus on health, and that can lead to dangerous eating behaviors. With the only dedicated eating disorder programs in the area, Penn State Hershey Children’s Hospital hopes to counteract the potential negative effects of these well-intentioned health messages. Continue reading “Despite the Best of Intentions, Healthy Eating Messages Could Have Harmful Consequences”