Research shows that it might be harmful to teach students about eating disorders. Some students might learn to glamorize disturbed eating patterns.
Instead, teachers can:
1. Discourage Dieting. Adopt the NEDA slogan, "Don't Weigh Your Self-Esteem — It's What's Inside That Counts"
2. Practice what you preach. Create a safe environment by eating well-balanced meals, not diet bars or drinks. When you hear teachers talking about "being fat" or going on diets, challenge them. The same goes for kids. Whenever students begin talking negatively about their bodies or about restricting their food intake to lose weight, respond immediately and stress that their bodies need fuel several times daily to be able to think, grow and be healthy. Remember, internal — not external — beauty is important.
3. Find outwhat kids are eating. Encourage the school food service to provide a broad range of meal options. Help students learn to trust their bodies, their hunger, and their ability to self-regulate.
4. Encourage healthy exercise. Help your school develop physical education programs for all students to enjoy.
5. Teach respect! Establish a zero-tolerance stance on teasing, taunting, and negative talk about children's bodies in schools. Treat derogatory behavior the same way you would racial or sexual harassment.
6. Teach media literacy! Media literate students are more critical consumers because they know that every image, commercial and television show has a message, constructed by an individual or group with a particular agenda of point of view. Create experiential lessons, such as photo shoots and ensuing touch-ups, visiting ad agencies or developing news shows.
7. Write letters and make phone calls! Survey your school for weightism and do something about it. for example, if P.E. teachers practice routine body fat testing, tell them why that is unacceptable. You might need to take your issue to the administration, in which case you would want to forward copies to local newspapers, radio stations.
Source: Maine, M. Body Wars, (2000). Gurze Books