This article reviewed research into Children’s views about obesity, and found that children tended to view it from a social, rather than a health, perspective.
Children are highly aware of body size, and society’s attitudes towards it. They often have unrealistic expectations of their own ideal body type.
In the UK, children have their height and weight measured at the end of primary school, in Year 6. Results are sent to parents. I’ve probably got my children’s results somewhere, but I know I didn’t take any notice - my children were active and healthy, and I don’t believe that the BMI gives an accurate portrayal of health risk. Children at that age are growing so fast, one minute they’re putting on weight and looking pudgier, the next they’re shooting up in height and the weight/height ratios change. Children don’t need anymore pressure regarding body image.
One of the conclusions of this research study is that “Children appear to be critical about their own body sizes and are highly aware of our society’s heightened interest in body size.”
As long as children are eating a balanced diet and getting physical activity in order to stay healthy, there shouldn’t be a “normal” body type in which children are compared against. It’s so sad to think that children, who should be focused on having fun, learning, and playing, are concerned with issues such as body size. Everyone is different and it is important for parents and caregivers to stress this uniqueness rather than to encourage this unnecessary concern with body consciousness.