266368 Shame and blame as health strategies: A discussion of Health At Every Size(R) interventions for children and teens

Wednesday, October 31, 2012 : 12:54 PM - 1:06 PM

Dana Schuster, MS Rehabilitation Counseling , Self Employed, Woodside, CA
The terminology around a "war on childhood obesity" appeared around 2004, but kicked into high gear the following year when the government mandated that school districts receiving federal reimbursement for food programs must develop a Student Wellness Policy. Since this initial policy directive, many community and school settings have taken it upon themselves to target fat kids. In many states, Body Mass Index has become a primary determinant of whether a child is deemed healthy (or not) by both educators and public healthcare providers. Much of the health messaging that has been developed to address ‘childhood obesity' employs tactics of shaming, blaming, and finger pointing, and fat children and teens are often singled out from their peers for weight reduction and/or physical activity interventions within school settings. Research has demonstrated that weight-focused programs can amplify stigmatization of fat kids, increase disordered eating, and encourage bullying of children based solely on body size. As an alternative, health strategies for youth based on a Health At Every Size(R) approach may minimize stigmatization and weight-based bullying through celebrating the beauty and health of a diverse range of body sizes. When weight-neutral HAES(SM) programs are provided, schools and communities can offer an inclusive opportunity for children and teens across the size spectrum to learn about health and wellness. This presentation will focus on how implementing Health At Every Size® strategies can empower youth to engage in sustainable physical activity, healthful eating, and many other health -promoting behaviors.

Learning Areas:
Planning of health education strategies, interventions, and programs

Learning Objectives:
By the end of this session participants will be able to: (1) Identify possible outcomes of traditional weight-based interventions for youth. (2) Describe how the Health At Every Size(R) approach can promote sustainable health behaviors. (3) Explain at least two steps that can be taken to implement a HAES(SM) based wellness approach in a school or community setting.

Keywords: Health Behavior, Children and Adolescents

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have worked for 7 years, and continue to work with the Get Healthy San Mateo County Task Force, the Sequoia Union High School District Wellness Advisory Council, and the Redwood City School District Wellness Committee in developing wellness policies and implementing wellness programs for children and teens.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.