This Friday, May 18 is European Obesity Day. More than one out of two French people over the age of 30 is overweight. 6.5 million are considered obese. This is nearly 15% of adults (compared to 7% in 1992). But overweight also affects 18% of young people under 18, of whom 3 to 4% are obese. In addition to the risks to their health, the prejudices and stigmatization of obesity in children constitute an increased risk of school failure, exclusion and depression. It’s double jeopardy for them.
European Obesity Day has been around since 2010. Obesity has reached epidemic proportions around the world. At least 2.8 million people die each year from being overweight or obese. Overweight and obesity are important risk factors for several chronic diseases, including diabetes, cardiovascular disease and cancer. They can also give rise to prejudice and stigmatization,
Childhood obesity: the double jeopardy
In France, one in six children is overweight. In addition to the risks to their health and proper development, children are particularly affected by the stigmatization of obesity.
The effects of weight prejudice and obesity stigma can be particularly severe in children. Studies indicate that school-aged children with obesity are 63% more likely to be bullied. Intimidation or bullying of children and young people by peers, family and friends because of their weight can lead to feelings of shame, depression, low self-esteem and poor body image, and even drive suicide.
Childhood obesity: more risk of school failure
Weight biases held by teachers can lead to lower expectations for obese pupils and students, which can negatively affect their academic performance. Children’s chances and opportunities for development can, in turn, be affected, a situation that can ultimately lead to social and health inequities.
Policies are therefore needed to prevent weight-related victimization in schools, and parents can advocate for their children with teachers and principals by raising their concerns about it, and making them aware of the problem of prejudice in the school environment.
Create an “anti-obesity” home environment
Problems related to overweight often manifest themselves well before reaching adulthood: several studies have shown that children and adolescents who are overweight suffer from hypertension, excess triglycerides in the blood and liver, and hyperglycemia, a set of abnormalities that skyrocket the risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Beyond the reduced life expectancy, it is above all the quality of life that is drastically affected by these weight problems.
The creation of an “anti-obesity” family environment, where high-calorie industrial foods (soft drinks, snacks, snacks) are replaced by healthy foods such as fruits, vegetables and nuts, and where time spent on various screens (television, video games, tablet and phone) is replaced by physical activity, should be a priority for anyone concerned about the health of their child.