kids put parents in a tricky position: We know those extra pounds could wreak
havoc with their health, not to mention their self-esteem. But how do you convince
them to lose weight?
to a new study published in JAMA
Pediatrics, the right way is to hone in on healthy eating habits (“that
Hoho is bad for your health, honey”). The wrong way? Focusing on weight (“You
could stand to lose a few pounds there, darling”). In fact, telling kids to
lose weight can backfire, causing kids to gain more weight.
the study, researchers surveyed over 2,300 adolescents and 3,500 parents. Of
them, 15 percent of moms and 14 percent of dads with an overweight child said
they talked about health. Meanwhile, 60 percent of moms and 59 percent of dads
with overweight kids talked about weight loss—which is the wrong way to break the
ice, since it can propel kids into problem dieting and other unhealthy eating
behaviors such as anorexia, binge eating and bulimia.
lot of parents are aware of the obesity problem in the U.S—it's everywhere you
turn—but they wonder how to talk about it with their children,” said study author
Dr. Jerica Berge of the University of Minnesota Medical School in Minneapolis
News and World Report. Her advice: “Tell kids to eat more fruits and
vegetables because eating them will make them healthy and strong. Don't connect
these conversations to weight and size."