« A Multiage Challenge | Main | Whose Job Is It? »

Fat is Contagious


Two weeks ago, I was on vacation in northern Minnesota and I was in the country. Midway through the week, we were running low on necessary vacation beverages, so my husband and I drove 30 miles on dirt and paved country roads to the nearest convenient store. While in “town” at this shop, we took a few moments to watch FOX-ified CNN on the television that hung prominently in a well-viewed corner. (Note: Over the bar.) I learned three things in less than 10 seconds. The Dow had dropped by 300 points, Lindsay Lohan was off the wagon and, horror of horrors, FAT IS CONTAGIOUS!

Obesity is a rampant problem across this country. All one has to do is stand in the greet zone at a major Midwestern airport to see the truth in this statement. But it is taboo to talk about. Fat is a politically incorrect term. Yet there seems to be a lot more overweight kids now than in the past. More fat people all together. And that makes sense, if fat is contagious.

Am I responsible as a teacher to let a child know he or she is getting fat? I see students returning to tech camp this summer, kids I taught two summers ago. Some are unrecognizable because they’ve grown up so much between 10 and thirteen. A few girls and boys have really packed on the pounds. It is crushing to see a beautiful child turned into a self-loathing adolescent because of obesity. (And many other problems, for sure.)

More often than not, the overweight child comes from an overweight family. Eating habits are emotionally tied to the family. Much time is required to change eating habits and I think it is important to start with the child in the classroom. Healthy Life Styles should be taught from a holistic approach surrounding nutrition, exercise and sustainability. Nutrition and math go well together. One pound equals around 3,500 calories. There are many word problems to write around that one statement. And think of Alice Waters’ Edible Schoolyard project. How could you (or I) start something like this in our own communities? Change takes place at a grassroots level.

But the reality is, there are few schools doing projects like this. Many schools still spend money on nasty, albeit “nutritionally balanced”, processed-food pre-made lunches, and in many schools, breakfasts, too, packed with empty carbohydrates. How hard is it to provide a healthy, well-balanced meal? As hard as it is to get a group of people together to start a community project???

Poor nutrition, at home and in schools, is one problem contributing to low performing schools in America. Teaching children about nutrition from a young age, especially in low performing schools where children often have hot chips and a sugary drink for breakfast and/or lunch, seems like a logical way to combat the heath problems AND health care and insurance issues of the future. (Obesity is causing expenditures in health care to explode in this country and is directly linked to diabetes, heart disease and many types of cancer.) Teaching children how to search for food growing in their local communities also promotes a healthier lifestyle.

A quick story to end: Last year I was in my local pharmacy/drugstore purchasing popcorn for the Christmas Party. It was 7:45ish in the a.m. and I remember because I was running late. A mother was in the store with her young daughter. She looked around four, but she was older. I know because the checker asked the mother, “Your daughter’s so cute! How old is she?”

“She’s in second grade.” The mother responded while holding her daughter’s wrist in an eagle’s grip. Moments before I watched her ask her daughter what she wanted for breakfast. The daughter chose Firey Hot Chips and a can of Coke.

As teachers and parents, how should we envision the school’s role in helping to fight obesity? What is our role in influencing nutritional choices? As a teacher, what does your school lunch look like? As a parent, what does your child eat during the day? Is fat contagious?


Hi Amy,Great topic for discussion! I think it absolutely is the teacher's responsibility to broach this topic with the child's parents. The problem is the parents are usually overweight themselves, and have come to grips with that is how they are going to look forever and it is ok for their children to look like them. As a teacher if you noticed a child has behavior issues or an illness, you would tell the parents so why is weight such a taboo topic? I believe because people feel it is too insulting to discuss and they overlook the health hazzards due to their own lack of comfort talking about the topic. I believe feeding your child hot chips and coke for breakfast is as much child abuse as smoking with your child in a car with the windows up...well...maybe not that bad, but close. The solution? I don't know that I have one because feeding your child what he or she WANTS is much easier than feeding your child what he or she NEEDS! If parents want their child to have good eating habits I think the answer is to eat well themselves and eat together! This encourages not only good eating habits but good lines of communication between parents and their children - and that is what you need to teach your kids anything!!

As a health professional, I am pleased to see that teachers are starting to question what role they should play in a child's nutritional development. There is a fine line when dealing such a sensitive subject that many parents fail to recognize. Couple that with an obvious decline in the academic performance of children overall, and one has to doubt that it could be justified to cut math short for the sake of explaining that carrots are a better choice than Doritos.

Many schools are taking positive steps to help abate the problem by replacing soda machines with juices and being more honest about the ingredients and nutritional value of the foods they are offering. However, many economically disadvantaged schools do not have the resources to make these changes or offer a greater variety to the students. I think they challenge here lies in encouraging kids to make smart choices while recognizing their need for self-esteem and responsibility. I know there are many resources available in the community and establishing a nutritionalist in the school districts is likely to help answer questions in a professional and nonjudgemental manner.

It's such a difficult thing for the schools to tackle. The budgets are small, and the kids have a taste for treats, not for healthy stuff. As a parent, it is very challenging to find snacks that are healthy, yet "treaty." There are a few, but not a ton. And of course fresh fruit costs a lot.
The other matter to consider is whether the kids will eat the good stuff. I saw a lot of apples and oranges get tossed out at the school last year. Such a sad waste of food.
The challenge is providing food the kids will eat, while keeping it relatively healthy.
I think getting the kids, themselves, involved to help plan the school menus could be a step in the right direction. Combining education with input could help engage the kids.

HI Amy,

I am a 5th grade teacher. I am 30 years old and am about 20lbs. over weight. The reason I am telling you this is because each year I have more and more students in my class who are bigger than me. This scares me. Who is at fault? Some will say the schools, others parents, and still others will blame society. In my school we have focused our Health curriculum on nutrition and drug prevention. We also participate in the “Eat Smart” program. The only changes I have seen since this program was implemented were teachers not giving students candy as a reward and we no longer have pizza at class parties. Students are no longer aloud to bring in treats such as cupcakes for their birthdays. Overall I think this is a great program that requires teachers, students, and parents to think about healthier choices. However when the students go to lunch they are served things such as nachos, pretzels with cheese, and stuffed crust pizza for lunch. If you question the food service department about this they will tell you that they do have healthy choices for the students, but the students choose the unhealthy ones.

There are fat children everywhere. Who should we blame? I say parents. Overall I believe the most of the problems our youth have begin with poor parenting. Parents need to teach their children to make smart choices and they need to unplug the video games.

Thanks for the insightful comments. Schools seem to be giving students mixed messages by saying, "No Pizza Parties," but giving students such unhealthy choices at lunch like nachos (with orange nuclear cheese, I'm sure), stuffed crust pizza and pretzels with cheese. (Is the Dairy Industry funding Eat Smart???) Like many adults, when faced with healthy vs. unhealthy choices, I mentally crave the unhealthy choice, though my body probably wants the nutrition. How do you and the other teachers in your school combat the dichotomy of what you are seeing actually occur in the lunchroom and the principles of Eat Smart? Where can people find more information about Eat Smart?

Excellent article, Amy! As a parent who aches to see young children, girls especially, caught in the vise between certain genetic predispositions and celebrity culture's fascination with living, brainless skeletons, I would encourage teacher support (even intervention?) in helping our children make better choices about nutrition. However, I would hope that such an effort would not be clinical, but holistic and part of an overall program that encourages the development of character and personal responsibility--and if the teacher is lucky, enjoys parental support and involvement. Educators as well as parents model roles, both positive and negative, whether we want to or not. If more of us decided to go one step further in modeling responsible behavior for children's sake, it just may be possible to assist a child in becoming the kind of person they would truly like to be--an act that might also help us become more the kind of people we would like to be. Case in point, when my daughter Aurelia, then 6, asked me never to smoke again, I made a promise I knew I had to keep. She's 15 now, and so far I've kept it. Now I just have to put down the doughnuts and soda.

Amy! Great points here. At the same time that companies have created foods with little or no nutritional content that fill us with empty calories, there is an industry raking in billions every year targeting people who are looking for quick-fix remedies for the excess weight they can't seem to lose. Diets, surgeries, fasts, pills, and so on. Kids are subjected to this marketing and have unrealistic goals put on them to mirror the shapes of their idols, who seem to be as fabricated as the twinkies on the grocery shelf. What is there to do? Hard to say. Healthy is healthy. Having some weight is normal for both young boys and girl as much as it is for a young adult to exhibit no outstanding bodily changes if they are late bloomers while their peers are changing dramatically. All these things can put an amount of stress on a child or young adult that cannot be measured. I remember my issues about every thing that I wish could have been different about my appearance. I really think that the most important message that can be stressed to these kids is that diversity is beautiful and gives us everything that we are as humans. the difficult thing is to get kids to take this message as fact and to take it to heart over the i-pod commercials and perfume ads. It seems eating disorders are as common as face piercings. It takes adults who care and that may have had the same problems when they were young to spot these disorders and help these young people to avoid hurting themselvs and spreading the behavior on to their peers at times. Ignoring fat and obesity in order to save feelings is a bad way to help. There is an approach for each individual to be taken to give them sensible perspective. Thanks for having the consideration to approach this topic.


Thanks for your heartfelt response. I particularly liked this line, "as fabricated as the twinkies on the grocery shelf." I teach Photoshop to young students between the ages of 9 and 14. As you can imagine, there are many different body types in the classroom. I like to show this website on the overhead, projected on to a large wall for all to see (I hide the Web site address because it is not a PG site, but worth showing the kids real vs. fake.) I will tell you, they were shocked. For more than five minutes, until I turned it off, they pointed out differences between pictures. It sparked a long discussion. Check out this website and see the wonders of photo editing.

Follow-up: For those of you who looked at that Web site, read a follow-up on http://www.womensvoicesforchange.org/2007/07/jezebel-crowns-.html

Fat is contagious, but there is a cure. Self-esteem, encouragement, education, and role-modeling. Young people are impressionable, as if we all didn't know that.
I work with teenagers. Last year I taught a summer program in which we discussed many environmental and social justice issues. Most of these topics came right back to food. "My teens" knew that I am a vegetarian. They knew because they asked and I told them. I didn't preach to them that they needed to be. I just explained why I am; because I don't like the meat industry's practices environmentally or socially and vegetables are cheaper and healthier. Teenagers appreciate that you trust them to understand without preaching, or speaking in "dumbed-down" manner; they want honesty and when they get it they listen.
We talked about food and environmental issues (i.e., pesticides) and food and social issues (i.e., food deserts), where it comes from, who has control over packaged foods, what do labels really tell us about our food, what do things like "high fructose corn syrup" mean and so on.
I took the teens to a fresh market that sells mostly organic and local produce, meats, and cheeses. The teens liked the market but said that the prices were out of their league and that their grocery stores didn't sell this stuff or healthy stuff for that matter that didn't cost a lot of money.
So, I took them on a field trip to the local grocery store. Before chosing which chain (we have many here in Chicago) I asked for a general consensus on which their parents would shop at.
I made them find three items from each food group that they thought was healthy, least expensive and something they'd eat. They were shocked! They actually found healthy, inexpensive food choices that didn't have tons of packaging, was produced in the US (less carbon), and even many products made in Illinois!
A very long story short: There are two teens now wanting to be vegetarian; one talks about "balanced meals so I don't get diabetes;" and in 8 months or so one teenager lost about 50 pounds due to healthier eating habits (he told his mom about what he learned and took her shopping!)
That was the best summer experience I have ever had with a group of inner-city, at-risk, teenagers.
Thank you for letting me revisit that summer. I hope this post helps others realize the potential they have to influence these malleable young people in healthy, positive ways.

p.s. If I wasn't in a hurry, I would have so much more to say...perhaps I will respond later to some of the other commenters.

Great topic Amy. I was not an overweight student but am an overweight educator. I also see many college students who are "robust" based on learned nutrition habits. These habits are developed while we are young and transcend into early and middle adulthood. I remember after my father died at an early age, my mother continued to cook as if there were still four of us and of course, we had to eat it all because there were starving children around the world. You get the message. It is incumbent upon the parents to establish and modify eating habits as applicable. The teachers job is to teach, not behavior modification. Leave that to parents and trained professionals.

Thanks for the comment, Dr. Mike. I think there are many people who associate eating with emotions, and this sort of issue should be left for trained professionals. However, I do think many teachers are role models for children who come from very different backgrounds many of us can only imagine. When we model healthy eating habits and discuss cultural problems with eating, we are helping children change their own behavior.

It is such a shame that so many young students are over-weight in this day and age. I can look at all of my classroom pictures from my childhood, and it truly is rare to find an over-weight classmate in any one of them. While I believe that really only the parents will have an impact on whether or not their child can lose weight (or prevent gaining), I also feel that health and nutrition should be taught in our classes - nothing to lose (but pounds) by doing so.

As a first grade teacher, I am appalled at the lunch options in my school, and every other school I've taught in, on a daily basis. We are constantly talking with our students about making good choices, yet we aren't making any available to them. How can we expect kids to be healthy when we're providing them with such junk? I make a big deal about "healthy snacks" in my classroom and we discuss it at great length. The kids know what they can bring and what they cannot. Easy. I am ensuring that they get a healthy snack. Once they go through that lunch line however, and see the processed, packaged food, it's all over. And that's before they get to the end of the line with the treats! How can we expect kids to make smart, healthy food choices if we only provide them with unhealthy options?
Parents and teachers need to demand alternatives from their districts and from the state and federal government. If we only offer nutritionally balanced, FRESH food, then that is what students will eat.

I was going to launch into a tirade chastising modern parents common despondancy towards childcare/rearing coupled with their knee jerk shunting of resposibility and blame upon anyone aside from themselves but, also counter that argument with that fact that their children have been preciously entrusted to the school sytems for such an encompassing portion of their early lives that it should also be a natural assumption that the kids are receiving a suitable eudcation both physiaclly and intellectually aimed at decent nutrition and the value of overall good fitness habits....Then i came across this and it said everything i really wanted to say but couldn't for fear of the backlash it may cause.


Thanks for the response, Greg. It's sad, but many people really do chastise and punish obese children and adults, as I'm sure the obese woman in the video would attest to. Obese children suffer emotionally from being ostracized. Adults need to guide these children into mentally and physically healthy young adulthood by saying no to unhealthy eating habits, demanding physical fitness and health education, and by encouraging- not degrading- their physical appearance.

First of all, I have to state that teachers already have a daunting task simply trying to get kids to pay attention to the approved curriculum and present the material in a way that makes them want to learn. Matters concerning the health of the students should be left in the hands of the parents, children, and a qualified medical professional (most likely a pediatrician). An English or a history teacher is certainly no more (and is most likely less) qualified to make decisions about what my children should be eating than I am. Don't get me wrong - I have had some excellent teachers in my life - but none had extensive medical training, and not one of them ever attempted to interfere with my upbringing.
As far as actual "Health" classes are concerned, I think this is a dicey subject. There is certainly nothing wrong with teaching children about the benefits of a balanced diet and that certain things (junk food, fast food, soda, and yes, even nasty, chemical-filled diet soda) are bad for you and should be ingested in very limited quantities. Unfortunately, your average health teacher is only so qualified to instruct on these topics. Opinionated or misguided individuals can do serious damage to impressionable young minds. I have first-hand experience with a sibling who was very nearly rendered anorexic by the opinions a teacher presented in a high school health class. My mother, who is a family practicioner, is still very resentful towards the school for allowing the curriculum that was taught in that class.
Furthermore, as a happy and fairly healthy meat-eating adult, I would be absolutely infuriated if my son came home and declared he was going to be a vegan because some teacher told him meat was bad. Fortunately, my son is still a baby, so he has to eat whatever we put on the little spoon and stick in his mouth. Still, I can't help but dread the thought that I may only be five or six years away from some fervent teacher deciding to interfere with my parenting.
I think a lot of other posters have already hit upon the true issue. Schools need to nix the soda and vending machines, the nachos, pretzels with cheese, pizzas, Ho Ho's, fruit pies, and all of the other garbage that makes so much money in the cafeterias. Until this is done, parents have no way of knowing what our children are buying with our money (or government vouchers). If kids don't like the healthy choices in the cafeteria, they always have the option to bring their own lunch. Parents who care will pay attention to what goes in those brown paper bags.
And as a last note (I couldn't resist), fat kids know they're fat. They certainly don't need some teacher throwing it in their faces, no matter how well-intentioned.

You are very right here. Healthy lifestyle choices including diet and excersize are learned by children through parents and schools. Perhaps we can replace all Coke machines with Odwalla and all Water vending machines with signs pointing to good ol' fashioned drinking fountains (why not think about the environment and American spending habits while we're at it).

Thanks for your post, Erik! I must say, I'm a fan of a cup and the drinking fountain. I've seen too many schools that don't recycle plastic bottles. Also, I believe that, as much as we can, we should try and keep brands out of the schools. And while we're at it, create science and math lessons around WHY we drink form the drinking fountain (test the water for a lab test); about how much money is spent in dollars and environmental pollution while filling these bottle with H2O then shipping these bottles to and from the factories- including when recycling them. See this article about Pepsi Co. and Aquafina. http://www.cnn.com/2007/HEALTH/07/27/pepsico.aquafina.reut/index.html
Think of the potential lessons from this one article!

First of all, I agree that there's no reason for snack and soda machines in public schools other than as a revenue source.
Also, nachos for lunch? Who makes these decisions? Something tells me it has a lot to do with the vendor hired by the school. Score another victory for corporate america over the public welfare. Of course, a large scale corporate vendor with a government contract is going to push for more "options" like nachos. What does a plate of corn chips and canned cheese cost compared to a balanced meal with fresh fruit and veg. I'll bet that the vendor receives the same amount for either, so what private company wouldn't serve "empty" food, that costs next to nothing, and reap the profits?
School districts should have a professional dietician on the pay role who makes ALL decisions regarding food service with no interference from parents or vendors.

hey amy great article, I agree that good eating habits start in the home. Most parents probably do not realize all the junk food that is provided in some school lunches. I have become so disappointed in our local school lunches that my children now take lunch from home. My hope is that maybe we can educate the children to have healthy eating habits and promote daily exercise (not just their thumbs playing playstation). As a teacher I know you will do your best to give them this knowledge and hope that they use it, but remember you are with them a short time and they learn most of their habits from the home and surroundings. A short story for you, In our community we have a 26 year old that weighs over 700lbs. As firefighters, we are called to this person's home on a routine basis. This person suffers from heart disease and diabetes and the doctor's do not expect the person to live much longer. The person's mother died 8 months ago she weighed 650lbs. This is becoming more and more common. Hopefully younger generations learn to live healthier, remember save a firefighter's back! Good job and keep writing.

A few of the comments above state that nutritial education and eating habits are a parent and health care professional's responsibility as opposed to teacher's. While this maybe ideal, most students see their teachers twice as much during the day than they see their parents (those who's parents work full time - and many do to support their families). Teachers, in this day and age play a lot more of a parental role than they did back in the 50s and 60s where most had a stay at home mom to cook, clean and influence behaviors. We have to look to our teachers to make good impressions on our children and teach them the fundamental things such as what to eat that parents are not teaching. Furthermore...many parents do not have the knowledge themselves as to what healthy eating is and isn't. (Maybe a grilled chicken sandwich from McDonalds is better than a fried one but it's still 420 calories and 10 grams of fat!) We need our teachers to help!!!

Thanks for this article, Amy. I think the schools have a responsibility to not only teach good nutrition, but practice it as well. School lunches are some of the worst things for children to eat. Peanut butter graham crackers as a main meal?!?! Fried mozzerella sticks as a meal?!? Children may not be guaranteed to eat all of the nutritious food that is served, especially if given a choice between oranges and nachos, but I think it's best not to give them the unhealthy choices. Eventually, they'll eat what is given to them. This past school year, one of the mom's was snacking on edamame while monitoring the school lunch room. She was surprised and happy to see all of the children coming up to her asking her for some. Edamame, a fairly inexpensive superfood!
My daughter's preschool offered monthly parent meetings covering different topics of interest to families. At least one meeting a year was about nutrition, teaching parents how to provide the proper nutrition to their children. I think this is something that should be offered at CPS.

Great article, Amy! I enjoyed reading all of the thought-provoking responses. I very much agree with what the majority seems to be saying about the role teachers and the school have in informing our youth about sound nutritional habits; but as a teacher AND parent, I am truly becoming tired of the back-and-forth argument and blame game of whose responsibility is it to make sure our youth are making good decisions (be it their health, behavior, or academics). In my opinion (take it for what it's worth) and from my experience, I think the problems of our youth are a combination of several factors: family, media, and school. Yes, I think parents are at the forefront when it comes to responsibility for helping children make good decisions (after all, isn't the home the place where most learned behaviors start?) However, the media, with its constant barrage of negative images and lowered expectations, do little to help a youth's (or for that matter an adult's) view of him/herself. Lastly, schools have a significant influence on the decisions a young person makes, especially regarding food choices. The food options the schools offer are so disheartening to me. I have seen news stories about schools that make only healthy foods available to students. Although the cost is higher, it would be possible if one (or many) make it a priority. By the way, I really like the suggestion (above) of requiring schools to employ nutritionists that would make decisions about the food choices. I'm sure districts have "nutritionists" on their payroll making ultimate decisions about the lunch menu but give in to competing vendors, which don't have our young people's health in mind. In the end, the district's bottom line wins in the end.

I was surprised at the little comment about what our school systems are doing in the area of Physical Education. If our newest research shows that "Fat is contagious," isn't one of our biggest problems, aside from our eating habits, the fact that many of us live a highly "inactive" lifestyle (myself included)? Not only are our bodies not meant to digest today's chemically infused foods, they aren't designed to remain idle. Ironically, our PE curriculum--which at first promoted activity, competition and winning--now focuses on how to stay active and ENJOY activity as a lifelong goal. Yet school districts are supporting the PE programs less and less (unless it involves sports on a competitive level) making a student's time in PE as little as one to two half and hour sessions a week. At the High School level, many districts don't make their students take PE as a required course after their sophomore year. On average, a student has the daily core curriculum of math, language arts, social studies, and science, but they only have PE a few times a week. When districts talk of cutting funds, one of the first places to get hit (besides the Arts) is the PE program. But of course, rarely do we see the sports programs affected. This really says something about where our society's priorities are--entertain us with sports and with competition but don't teach the rest of is how to be physically fit!

Amy I have read many of the comments on your blog. I have come to the conclusion that this is a problem that needs to be addressed. First of all there needs to be more education for parents. Secondly, we need to regulate what students are eating at school. I work in a school where over 75% of our students receive free or reduced lunches. We can regulate what these students are eating. (We after all are paying for them.) This would be a good place to start.

Oh, one more thing. Another reason Johny is fat is because he eats Big Macs and his idea of playing ball is getting on the game boy. You just don't see inner city kids playing ball at the fields anymore. Of course, some play on the basketball courts, but you notice, they are not fat!

It is a sad prediciment that we are in with the increase of obese children, and I would bet that things will only get worse if teachers, parents, siblings, medical professionals, and the student don't ban together to figure out a TRUE reconcilation to this problem.

Obviously the approach of parents and medical professionals alone is not the answer. I believe that educators should have at least a little say so in the matter. After all...they sure are the first the approach parents about the opposite type of eating disorders....anorexia nervousa and bulimia, which parents tend to also turn a blind eye too.

I can recall numerous presentations and studies on eating disorders in middle school and high school in my time. I think it is time to include a new eating disorder to the nutrition curriculum....OVER EATING.

While it is the parents' duties to instill good eating habits in their children's lives, the fact is there is not always enough time for them to do so, and many perents do not want to admit that their kids have a problem.

We need to get back into the habit of teaching our kids better eating habits and exercise goals. I think a new approach needs to be taken, and getting teachers involved is a good start.

Hi Amy,
I commend you for posing such an important question for us to think about in the field of education…especially during the summer when we usually throw our brains into hibernation mode for two months. As a person who takes pride in eating healthy and exercising regularly, it is frustrating for me to watch children and adults who make unhealthy choices when I know it will affect more than just their bodies. If fat is contagious, is stupidity contagious? When I say stupidity, I don’t mean children who have difficulty learning. I mean children who come to school without a healthy breakfast (or any breakfast at all) and are set up to fail. They aren’t given the same nutrition to maximize potential when learning. How can we expect a 2nd grader who eats fiery chips and a can of soda to come to school with the same brain function as a child who has eaten a bowl of cereal with a banana and a glass of orange juice? We as educators have to teach children about healthy lifestyles and WHY they are so important. If they could see the difference in how healthy minds function and healthy bodies feel, they might understand what nutrition is all about. It is just like teaching subtraction. If you can demonstrate that balancing a checkbook requires subtraction skills, students suddenly see a life long skill and have a purpose for learning that material. Making connections is a huge part of teaching which should be extended into health and nutrition. As a former junk food eating teenager, I had to be taught about my family history of diabetes in order to see how some of my food choices could eventually lead to a disease with no cure. I am not saying we need to scare children, but we do need to educate them. Whether it is obesity, lack of exercise, or children who aren’t ready to learn due to a lack of nutrition, I feel it is our responsibility as adults and educators to make health a priority and life lesson at school. If it isn’t being modeled at home then we can at least model it at school through our own behaviors. Taking this extra time to help our students make lifestyle changes could actually benefit all of us in the long run!

As many doctors have reported as well as much research, obesity may be a genetic problem and therefore has nothing to do with you as a teacher. No question your example as someone who exercises and eats the right foods as well as teaching about nutrition is important to student. However, you are not a medical doctor and need to be careful about what you say and do about the issue of obesity. If obesity is like addiction you would not be qualified in that case either. Teachers have a fine line with regard to health issue and should stick to teaching students the curriculum to be successful in a job in the future. Teachers can end up chastising students when required to do this type of thing without the training and knowledge to do it right. It makes me very concerned that this would be given to a teacher who should be teaching our children how to academics. The school system should be an example of good nutrition by offer fruits and vegtables, getting rid of soda, providing water and requiring students and teachers to wash their hands. In addition, teachers should wash off student desks and/or teach students to do it.

There is no doubt in my mind that social and environmental factors contribute to obesity. But, I believe the hundreds of studies that remain un-noticed by the media that show genetic factors contribute in a "huge" way to the problem. We as a society wish to place blame on the individual. Overheard at a McDonald's,"Gees, hasn't she ever heard of a salad?" You can bet that "she" has seen more salads and lowfat foods in her lifetime than the normal sized woman making the comment.Teachers should teach and stay out of the health business. After all you aren't all that impressive at teaching.

Justin Timberlake-
Sorry you've had such a bad experience in public schools. The reason I became a teacher was because I had some great ones, though I agree with you that there are many unimpressive teachers out there. That's why I take the time to bring these issues up, so we can create a community dialogue about the quality of public education. It's a hard job to do when your hands are tied by NCLB standards and regulations and the children idolize shallow, uneducated pop stars. Thank god you got a job that doesn't require an education!

teachers spend alot of time with kids, often more than the fmailies, and sometimes even more meals than the kids eat at home. Teachers definitely have a role to play in demonstrating and promoting outdoor motion time as well as good eating. The progress with public school food change is good but too slow and still has a way to go.

I am sorry that our teaching duties now include hygiene, sex education, manners--these used to be the parents responsibilities or their joy in parenting. I know that many parents are fulfilling their job but for those that are not, it seems there has to be a stopping place in how much a teacher can teach. When the parent asked a child what they wanted for breakfast and the child chose a soda and candy, this is not the child's fault, it is the parent who is too lazy to get up and fix a healthy breakfast. Don't start on the fact that they have a job, it can still be done. Parents have to stop blaming the teacher, the school, the administration for their own laziness or non-caring.

Comments are now closed for this post.


Recent Comments

  • Lavon Schwarting: I am sorry that our teaching duties now include hygiene, read more
  • Laurene von Klan: teachers spend alot of time with kids, often more than read more
  • Justin Timberlake: There is no doubt in my mind that social and read more
  • Kathryn C. Piller: Amy, As many doctors have reported as well as much read more
  • Matt M: Hi Amy, I commend you for posing such an important read more




Technorati search

» Blogs that link here