An unhealthy focus on being healthy

Last week, I ranted about the lunchbox police, who are adding extra stress to parental plates Australia-wide by monitoring the health factor in our kids’ school lunches.

Whilst I understand and even appreciate the nutritional policies that schools are introducing, the enforcement of these policies is making me feel uncomfortable.

And I’ve finally pinpointed the reason why.


It’s because we’re all, collectively as a society, getting too bloody obsessed about what goes in our mouths.

Good nutrition is important. So is exercise, and stretching, and good mental health, and a positive attitude.

But it’s the “healthy eating” part of the equation that always seems to be top of mind. You don’t see notes going home from teachers to parents because little Jenny was in the library during lunch and was therefore not hitting her activity milestones.

However, when it comes to food we obsess, we review, we monitor, we prepare… and the message around food that is being absorbed by our younger generation is getting downright dangerous.

Kids shouldn’t know or understand the meaning of words like “diet” or “fat”. Yet Professor Peter Jones of Bond University, who practises in the wards of Gold Coast University Hospital as a paediatrician, has revealed that patients as young as nine years of age are being admitted with chronic eating disorders. Some cases are so serious that the child in question needs to be fed by a tube!

He also confirmed to the Gold Coast Bulletin that cases of eating disorders have doubled since the hospital opened.

I know how damaging it can be to grow up in a household where food and weight and dieting are the centre of attention. I grew up in a ‘diet’ home. My mum was always on a diet, my big sister was always on a diet, I ALWAYS knew that their weight was the centre of attention. For instance, if my mum made a roast for dinner, the potatoes would be baked in the oven with no oil, because “we’re dieting”.

Their unhealthy focus on being healthy resulted in neither of them ever actually achieving their ideal weight – they’re still on a diet to this day.

So whilst I applaud schools for doing their part to battle the obesity crisis, I have to admit that I’m worried – because we may be creating a health crisis of a different kind along the way.