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Child Obesity Support Programme
What's On Top
- Do you know about the new COSPRO website?
It's got all the features of the old Wikispaces site plus a few additional features such as... colour! (Well, you can't expect too much from a free web host!). There is also a section on accessing the COSPRO Programme by phone or email, as many families wishing to become involved live outside of the Greater Wellington coverage area and are unable to access COSPRO services directly.
Feel free to visit and take a look around. There is a link on the old Wikispaces site to redirect you. The new site address again:
Topics Of Interest
- We're in a recession! Does this mean that families will be unable to provide their kids with a healthy diet because of the expense involved? Or that they will be unable to take their kids out on healthy outdoor activities because doing so is an ''additional expense''? If anything, the current economic situation must surely provide families with more of an incentive to provide their children with basic, sustaining, and inherently healthy food choices, as well as an incentive for their kids to find their own activities - most of which are usually more physically demanding than anything that us parents would otherwise choose for them!
All too often we hear that the cost of a healthy lifestyle programme is beyond what many families on a limited budget can afford. Sure, many families in this predicament might find it difficult to maintain such a programme because of financial and other external pressures and worries, but healthy food and healthy activity is almost always cheaper (financially) than the alternative cost of takeaway food and Playstation.
It may simply take a little more time. And perhaps a little more dedication.
- Once again the ugly spectre of bullying raises it's head with the Children's Commissioner admitting that bullying in our primary and secondary schools is preventing some children from gaining a decent education.
Of course this is of great concern to kids with weight challenges - and their families - because the nature of bullying is such that it tends to target those who are perceived as ''different'' from the norm. In other words, if you look different, think different, or act different, you may be a potential target for bullying.
Having said that (and I think I've said this before), there are certainly children who look, think, and act ''differently'', who nonetheless seem to have the ability to use these attributes to their advantage. But those kids are in the minority. Mostly, kids who are perceived as ''different'' by their peers are often targeted for bullying by those who wish to elevate their status in the schoolyard playground.
Dr. Kiro, the former Children's Commissioner, said in her report that Bullying was ''not gender specific, as girls were just as likely to fight as boys, but the effect of appearance-related teasing was often more enduring in girls''.
This can sometimes be confusing for parents: A boy coming home from school with bruises or a broken nose may elicit more sympathy and response from a parent than a girl who says she is being teased because of her weight (or some other appearance-related issue). What parents need to understand is that verbal and / or social bullying can be just as destructive to a child's self-esteem as can physical bullying. In fact, the insidious and often-ongoing nature of non-physical bullying can often be more detrimental to a young persons' self-esteem and social confidence than any one-off act of physical violence in the schoolyard playground.
In The News
- The NZ Obesity Action Coalition has released a report around obesity trends among Pacific Island people living in New Zealand: Food Security for Pacific Peoples in New Zealand. The report says that Pacific Island people are 2.5 times more likely to be obese than people of other cultures and backgrounds. It cites the cost and accessibility of ''healthy'' food as a major contributing factor to the high rate of obesity among the Pacifica population, but Lesieli O’Brien, diabetes nurse for Diabetes New Zealand Pacific Wellington, suggests that an inherent cultural factor may be involved: “Food is central to all Pacific cultures. It is the culture and without the food there is no social involvement”, she says. “My message is ‘cut down the fat and the sugar content in the food’, but put in a way that people can accept.”
Needless to say, this cultural factor translates and filters down to children from many families of Pacific heritage and tradition, and is reflected in their own high rates of obesity. Perhaps we should focus on those children as ''agents for change'' by teaching them about healthy eating (and activity) at school and letting them take that knowledge back to their families.
- 'Tiny' Wayne Muir wants to be a bus driver in Wellington city. He has all the qualifications to do the job, but has been rejected by Go Wellington (the Wellington bus authority) because of his weight and associated health challenges. Tiny has been told in no uncertain terms that he has been rejected because of these challenges, and that his weight and associated health issues may be an impediment to his employment as a successful Go Wellington bus driver.
We shouldn't be too quick to condemn Go Wellington here, but at the same time we need to understand the issues and challenges that people with obesity may face in being selected for employment in any given situation.
Central to this is the idea that obesity is a condition which cannot be discriminated against in an employment situation. The above reference states: 'Under the Human Rights Act, disability cannot be used as a ground for discrimination, but weight alone can.' Perhaps there needs to be more clarification around this issue, especially as it relates to the welfare and livelihood of qualified and deserving members of our community, and of their families.
- There seems to be something of a paradox in the idea that 'many young women (who are overweight) do not realise they are overweight'. This comes from a recent AUT study by Elizabeth Duncan from the Akoranga-based School of Sport and Recreation.
The study seems to be in stark contrast to the generally accepted idea that too many young women in contemporary society are concerned about being overweight (whether they are or not), and that as a group they place too much emphasis on this condition, whether perceived or real.
Duncan's study comprised girls aged 11 to 15 years and suggested that 'either perception (of being underweight or overweight) has the potential to be dangerous and the key is the right education'. Duncan further suggests that 'interventions and educational campaigns that assist girls in recognising the danger signs of obesity are a priority for all ethnic groups'. (Parenthesis added).
That may be a sound ideal, but the fact is many girls in this age group will react negatively to any suggestion that they may have a weight challenge. Programmes specifically targeting girls in this age group for issues around weight challenges must always take into account the potential for such girls (and sometimes boys) to become obsessed with their weight in a negative way, possibly leading to such psychosomatic disorders as anorexia nervosa and / or bulemia.
It may be understood that there is indeed a gender-specific or ethno-specific issue around obesity, but any resulting programme must always be implemented as 'generic' in order to ameliorate any suggestion of gender or ethnic culpability. And such implementation will almost always benefit the targeted audience anyway, as their gender / ethnicity / socio-economic status will almost always be secondary to their actual physical challenge: In this case obesity. Child obesity needs to be seen in a social context rather than as an individual or family issue. It is only within this social context (which of course includes the child and family anyway) that we can begin to address the issue of child obesity as a community issue.
- What about kids with physiological challenges such as Prader-Willi Syndrome, which may predispose my child to obesity?
This is a recognised medical issue which must be addressed by a registered Health Professional. You need to talk to your child's doctor or paediatrician about any concerns you may have around your child's weight. Obesity can be a serious concern for parents of a child diagnosed with Prader-Willi (or related conditions) and the sooner you get onto this the better! It is not inevitable that a child with Prader-Willi will become obese, but you will generally need to have a professionally designed weight-management plan for your child in this case. Such a plan may include seemingly restrictive measures such as installing a padlock on your refrigerator or pantry, but this should be viewed in respect of the long-term benefits that it will provide for your child.
You can find out a little more about Prader-Willi and related conditions from the links below, but remember that your child's doctor or paediatrician must always be the first port of call.
Email your comments, ideas, thoughts, opinions, and questions to email@example.com for publication in this newsletter.
You can also include any child obesity related news, topics of interest, or events that you or your agency may be involved with.