Healthy Bodies; Teaching Kids What They Need to Know: A Comprehensive Curriculum to Address Body Image, Eating, Fitness and Weight Concerns in Today’s Challenging Environment

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“This powerful program teaches children the skills they need to manage food and weight successfully for the rest of their lives. The smiles and sense of confidence radiating from children who have had these lessons speak for themselves.” — Karin Kratina, PhD, RD, Author.
At a time when they should feel secure in their body’s growth, too many children learn to worry about weight and make choices that contribute to the very problems they hope to avoid. The results diminish self esteem and the integrity of their growing bodies and minds, consuming attention and energy that should be directed toward important developmental tasks. The compelling wish to be slim provides the seeds for a host of body image, eating, fitness, and weight concerns that are extremely difficult to reverse once established. Rather than helping, studies confirm that weight stigma and body dissatisfaction lead to poorer eating and fitness choices, less physical activity, weight gain and diminished health. The more children and teens worry about their size and shape or fear gaining weight, the more likely they are to disconnect from and view their bodies from the outside-in. Judging themselves harshly, they are less able to make self-caring, health enhancing choices. Programs to reduce weight stigma and promote health instead of size are needed now, before more harm is done. The Healthy Bodies curriculum was developed in response. Eleven engaging lessons teach children to:

  • maintain a caring, mindful connection to their bodies from the inside-out
  • develop an identity based on who they are rather than how they look
  • reject weight stigma and respect genetic diversity of body size and shape
  • understand how appearance changes with puberty
  • defend against unhealthy cultural pressures regarding looks, weight, food, and dieting
  • chose positive role models that support their deeper values
  • actively embrace health and vitality through positive eating and physical activity
  • support each other in having a healthy body image, eating well, and staying fit

Published in association with the National Eating Disorder Association, earlier editions were recommended by the USDH Office of Women’s Health in its BodyWise information packet for educators. These newly revised lessons will be familiar to users of the original Healthy Body Image curriculum, but are improved by input of educators and updated empirical data. As before, lessons are carefully planned, engaging, age appropriate, cross-disciplinary, and based on widely recognized, evidence-based prevention principles.

“When I want to know how to talk to kids about their health and nutritional needs, I read what Kathy has to say to them. Her words of wisdom resonate in today’s chaotic food environment. Could it be as simple as she says? Yes, it can. Kathy helps erase the fear and confusion around eating, while promoting a positive body image and high self-esteem for all kids. She has seen the results of stigmatizing bodies that are too fat, too short, too skinny, too tall, and she celebrates the fact that human beings come in a wide variety of sizes and shapes. She has a lesson to teach, not just to teachers and kids, but to all of us.โ€” — Joanne Ikeda, MA, RD, Nutritionist Emeritus, U of CA Berkeley.

“This curriculum should be in the hands of every elementary school teacher. The revised edition has the potential to transform classrooms, and is the resource for any school that wants students to develop positive body esteem, resist unhealthy messages regarding weight, shape, appearance, fitness, and food, and be equipped with the building blocks to a healthy lifestyle.โ€” — Margo Maine, PhD, Author of The Body Myth: The Pressure on Adult Women to Be Perfect and several other books