National Eating Disorders Association

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Gym teachers crossing the line

I would love some input and advice from other parents.. or anyone who has an opinion on this subject!

So, for the past few months I have been very concerned about my 11 year old son. Hes already very thin and has been talking about how fat he is. He has been eating much less, wanting to eat low carb food rather than what he normally eats, and the last time I had lunch with him in his school he only ate 2 bites of his food. He said he was saving his appetite for a snack in class.
A little background about me ( was bulimic and anorexic for 12 years) His biological father also was bulimic. So I already know there is a good chance my kids will have eating disorders.

The other day he told me that his gym teacher has been talking about calorie counting. She told the kids that she had to eat a small amount of food for dinner even though she was hungry because she reached her calorie limit for the day. She told them that they should limit calories. She also tells them that they're getting to an age where they need to start worrying about what they eat and that they should try to burn off every meal. She tells them that if they eat junk food they should do push ups or something to burn calories. She also talks about how they will see overweight kids in middle school next year and that they need to make choices to avoid being overweight.
I've talked to another mother with three kids in the same school and they confirmed that this is the way she teaches. Even the second graders are being told to count calories.

I'm absolutely livid!! I don't think kids need to worry about calories. No wonder my son has been not eating. PLEASE- feel free to give me some advice on how you would handle this. I've emailed the principal and teacher and am planning to meet with them.

Are gym teachers even allowed to give nutritional advice like this? I'm not about to allow this woman to be the trigger of my son's eating disorder. Although it's likely too late.

Gym teaches are fallible too

Hi mlw22,
I can certainly see why you would be upset over this, especially given your son's biological history. But I'm sure the teacher is acting out of concern over unhealthy eating practices she sees in her classes. Gym teachers also teach health, so it is understandable that this topic would be brought up, as it pertains to their subject matter. (At least that is true of middle school.) l would encourage you to voice your concerns to the teacher first, because she is probably unaware of her role in possibly triggering your son. There is still not enough awareness about eating disorders, but most people do see a frightening rise in obesity rates among even young children. There is a better way to approach the subject with children, and hopefully voicing your concern and telling of your personal history will help educate the teacher about another aspect that she may never have encountered, although I'm sure eating disorders will be covered to some extent in the curriculum in coming years. Teachers are usually open to learning new things... this may be one area of growth for her.


I met with the teacher, principal and assistant principal today. Although the teacher acted very defensive the principal totally agreed that they need to take a different approach to teaching nutrition. They have temporarily put a hold on teaching any nutrition in gym clas until a new plan can be implemented. Also... on a side note he told my husband and I after she left the room that he doesn't even agree with the way she's teaching the fitness portion of the class.

Thank you!

I was definitely nervous about what the response would be, but I'm so glad the principal was in agreement and will be making some positive changes. I wish there was something that could be done on a bigger scale to ensure that all teachers are properly educated on how to discuss nutrition


I'm spaceyandsweet82 and in process of recovery of bulimia and purging disorder and I just want to say I think you are doing a great job handling this and taking action now. I think nutrition should be brought up to a point in school where it is approached a different way in health and nutrition class. In gym class only teach gym class. The woman was probably over stepping her boundries if I spelled it right. You're doing the right thing.