Srividya Rajaram
                       Clinical Psychologist, EHIRC

With Obesity on the rise and the quick availability of fast food one of the biggest challenges for school authorities is, dealing with overweight children. One of the biggest challenges these children often face is being neglected by others, being made fun of because of their size. They often become an object of ridicule and this can damage their self-esteem a lot. Although only medical professionals are qualified to determine whether a child's weight is unhealthy, obesity is generally defined as being more than thirty percent above ideal body weight for a child's height. In simple terms, obesity occurs when a person eats more calories than the body uses. However, the causes of obesity are complex and may include genetic, biological, behavioral and cultural factors. Obesity in childhood is often related to:

  • Eating habits
  • Lack of physical activity
  • Family history
  • Medical illness
  • Stress
  • Emotional/social problems
  • Genetics

What can a counselor do?

  • Encourage the students to be active by having them keep track of time spent doing physical activities.
  • The same can be conveyed using stories, metaphors.
  • Focus on their positive qualities.
  • Do not embarrass them by calling attention to their weight.
  • Provide support and encouragement.
  • Seek help from other school personnel and/or meet with a parent to encourage him or her to consult a nutritionist or a physician concerning their child's weight.
  • Try to get the child involved in other extra curricular activities other than sports like art or dramatics
  • Talk to the other children about how weight of somebody should not determine their friendships with them through stories or drama
  • Keep a check on this child's self esteem.
  • Keep talking to this child about his positives.
  • Don't treat him as a special child. Do not make him feel that he is different.
  • Look out for any avoidance by this child of social gatherings, other children, group activities. Encourage other children to make this child participate.
  • Make a child in the class responsible for being this overweight child's good friend.
  • Remember that you may be this child's best friend.