We live in a world steeped in competition, and this is something that affects children the most. Academics are more competitive today than ever. There is a tremendous amount of pressure on children to perform at the best of their capabilities, continuously. This pressure often works inadvertently pushes children to compensate by emotional eating.
School is a place where children learn habits and lessons they continue to employ through most of their lives. Unfortunately, many schools in India, continue with practices that only go to encourage the epidemic that is childhood obesity. From serving processed and high calorie foods in the canteen to limiting sporting activities in favour of more emphasis on academics, there are a number of ways in which schools are falling short in the fight against childhood obesity.
Here’s where schools fall short, and how they can do more in the fight against obesity:
Awareness and Acknowledgement
The Problem: A child’s weight and health statistics are not something schools today are measuring, monitoring for improvement or maintenance and linking with the child’s overall well being. Schools have decided to dedicate themselves to academic performances as opposed to a more holistic well being score.
The Solution: Schools need to have a clearly defined physical well-being program for their students which includes the child’s growth statistics and their physical activity levels to help the children and their parents understand where their children stand and help them understand the need and levels of change in their dietary and physical routine.
The Problem: Play time is one of the most eagerly awaited part of the day at school for most kids. Most urban schools, however, often face a serious dearth of space for kids to play their hearts out. Moreover, with an increased emphasis on academic achievements, sports has taken a backseat and often is the 1st activity to be dropped for increased study time. The lack of an organised sporting structure in schools is a big disadvantage to a child developing a habit of regular physical activity.
The Solution: Schools have initiated tie-ups with sports academies to help encourage their students to inculcate the habit of regular physical activity. Dedicated allotment of time for sports every week, while already practiced at schools, is something that is more important today than ever before. Regular exercise, physical training and sports should be made mandatory for all children in school.
The Problem: Overweight children often face ridicule, bullying and stigma from their peers. At times like these, if there is a lack of a support system around the child, the problem can only go from bad to worse. The child needs to be encouraged, helped and counselled in the best possible way to counter the negativity he or she is facing.
The Solution: Every school should have a counsellor at hand to help children who are facing such difficulties. The children should be encouraged to approach the counsellor whenever they are faced with bullying, stigma or body shaming. Proper guidance and support from school can help build a child’s self-esteem and make them more confident about beating the condition they are faced with.
The Problem: Most schools have their cafeterias serving processed and high calorie foods. The rich food in association with the fact that most kids do not spend enough time on outdoor activities and sports, becomes one of the leading causes of childhood obesity. Schools should educate children about the necessity to incorporate a healthy diet in their routines and provide them with similar dietary options.
The Solution: Most schools provide children some or the other form of food. It is important that these food items are healthy and not processed. It is also just as essential for school authorities to teach students the importance of limiting their intake of high calorie and processed food items in favour of healthier and nutritive items.