Junkfood Science: Promoting Healthy Body Image

December 16, 2006

Promoting Healthy Body Image

* Discourage all dieting. Dieting is a risk factor for disturbed eating, eating disorders, weight cycling and ironically, future weight gain.

* Encourage members of the school community to listen to their bodies; eat when hungry and stop when full.

* Avoid labelling food as ‘good’ and ‘bad’. Food is not a moral issue.

* Role model eating and enjoying all foods, including nutritious, delicious and celebratory foods.

* Consider your own values towards weight, dieting and body image and how these impact on the school culture.

* Scrutinize books, posters and resources that endorse the cultural ideal of thinness and include stereotypical images.

* Avoid participating in body disparaging and dieting conversations.

* Role model valuing diversity.

* Emphasise and value self-esteem, critical thinking, assertiveness and respectful communication.

* Create a size accepting environment.

* Develop school policy on weight harassment. Bullying about size is associated with disturbed eating patterns.

* Link physical activity with enjoyment.

* Do not weigh students for any reason.

* Make sure that school policies and practices are congruent across the board with the promotion of healthy body images (e.g., coaches do not encourage weight targets while other staff simultaneously promote body satisfaction).

Adapted from Eating Difficulties Education Network by Jane Tyrer and Maree Burns

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