March 18, 2024 PD Training

Body Positivity and Cultivating a Good Relationship with Food


Obesity Stats for Children 2-19 in 2017-2020

About 14.7 million adolescents (or 19.7%) were obese

Obesity percentage increases over time (wonder how hormones in puberty affect hunger, satiety, desire to workout, mental wellness affecting physical wellness)

12.7% of 2 to 5 year olds, 20.7% of 6 to 11 year olds, and 22.2% of 12 to 19 years olds

Obesity rates are higher among certain populations

26.2% among Hispanic children, 24.8% among Black children, 16.6% among white children, and 9% among Asian children

Obesity related conditions include high-blood pressure, high cholesterol, type 2 diabetes, breathing problems like sleep apnea and asthma, and joint problems

* Obesity does not cause these conditions, these are just corollary conditions

It is important to not be judgemental, to offer an open mind and not set things as off limits because those things can cause guilt and that can make kids reluctant to participate in their health. Losing weight and maintaining a healthy weight is a hard thing, and you make it much harder if shame is attached as well

Kids now are exposed to more images of skinny adults, disordered eating practices, short cut weight loss options, and moral judgements of health and weight

Offering a positive stance on weight, fitness, and health is the best tool to counteract

Diet culture is more than dieting. It is attaching virtue to being thin. Certain eating habits or exercises or body qualities are shamed and treated as being morally wrong.

Don’t police kids eating habits

Try intuitive eating – attuning to your bodies cues about hunger and satiety more than external expectations about when and how much to eat

Food should be satisfying, feelings should be treated with kindness and respect, all movement should be celebrated, and nutrition should be talked about neutrally

Or Division of Responsibility – caregivers and children have different roles and responsibilities

Parents should choose and provide foods at regular and reliable times, make eating pleasant and enjoyable, and let children grow into the bodies that are right for them

Children should eat the amount of food they need from what is provided, learn to enjoy a variety of foods, and grow predictably in a way right for them

All bodies are good bodies, weight and height are mostly genetic, and health is dynamic

Healthy is not a singular thing, so it’s often inappropriate to judge it in other people based on the decisions you see them making

Avoid labeling things (behaviors, foods, activities, etc.) as good or bad

Show don’t tell, kids learn from watching behaviors of the adults in their lives

Advocating for a Third Meal


Want to increase access to nutritious meals at childcare centers and daycares, help children develop positive attitudes toward healthy meals, and increase food security, decrease obesity, and improved overall wellness

Children have small stomachs and need to eat more often, and they also have less experience identifying when they are hungry or having the means to find food on their own

A lot of “bad” behaviors can be caused by hunger, like a lack of attention or meltdowns

A third meal could also improve attendance and behavior, reduce days lost to illness, engage in activities that promote wellness, and increase opportunities to participate in nutrition education or physical activity

Use research and data to tell your story through numbers, address attitudes and behaviors about policy change, assess stakeholder knowledge, and gauge impact

Don’t neglect the lived experience! You can raise awareness, collect input from targeted communities, create spaces for connection, establish trust between advocates and the community, build your communication strategy, and provide space for community members

How can you collect these experiences?

Host a town hall or listening session, try coalition building, meet with community leaders, learn who holds power within your community

How can you tell your story?

Understand your audience, combine that qualitative and quantitative info, evoke empathy and empowerment, be creative, and establish a call to action

Don’t neglect to develop your funding strategy! How much will it cost, where will that money come from, is it full or partial funding, is it one-time or recurring, how will it be allocated, and is it likely to be approved during the legislative budget season or with supplemental funding?