My friend has a daughter who recently began kindergarten.
Her daughter is six.
She received a call from the school nurse that her daughter had been throwing away most of her lunch. Concerned, her mother told the girl to bring home what she didn’t finish, and she would eat it for her lunch the next day. When the lunchbox came home with the girl, she noticed her sandwich, cookies, and juice remained untouched. The only thing eaten were the baby carrots. My friend also noticed the small container of ranch dressing she packed for her was unopened. This was surprising, as prior to kindergarten, she wouldn’t eat vegetables without it. She became more worried when she learned that the girl had begun to use her recess time to go for a “jog” with her friends (also 6 and 7). Instead of eating cookies and playing hide-and-seek, she was eventually informed by her child that she was on a DIET.
Her school is proudly and actively fighting childhood obesity. They were all sent home pamphlets about it the first week of school. My friend asked her daughter if she knew what “dieting” meant. She said it meant “not being fat”. When questioned what 2 tablespoons of salad dressing had to do with a diet, her daughter informed her that it was just “empty calories”.
The final straw came last week, when her daughter got into a tiff with another girl in her grade. During their back-and-forth, her daughter called the other little girl “fat”.
She was punished by my friend for name-calling, and asked, once again, if she knew what these words meant.
So lets recap:
-This 6 year old “knows” that her sandwich, juice, and 2 small cookies are unhealthy.
-This child “knows” that being fat is a bad thing. In another young person, it is akin to being naughty or mean.
-This child “knows” that in order to keep herself from being fat, she needs to devote her free time (recess) to exercise, instead of any other activity.
-This child has begun to use the word “fat” to describe someone in a hostile, insulting way (the other little girl, by the way, was not fat)
-This child is pleased with herself for “dieting” and thus, in her own words, “not being fat”
I’m not exactly sure how the concept of childhood obesity is being taught to children. But I’m pretty sure this type of “programming” will lead to nothing good.