Researchers at the University of Minnesota Medical School said that conversations focusing on body weight and size are linked to an increased risk of unhealthy dieting, binging, and other weight-controlling behaviors in young people. Researchers asked 2,348 adolescents and 3,528 parents how they dealt with the topic of weight. They found that parents who talked to their overweight children about nutrition and healthy eating were less likely to have a child with an eating disorder than parents whose conversations focused on body weight and size.
Despite being a well wishing parent we usually mess up in the way we deal with overweight or obese children. The way we communicate could influence whether a child develops an eating disorder or not. This is especially important during adolescence. Adolescence can be a difficult time for anyone, and with rising social pressures, being body conscious isn’t unusual for children.
Besides choosing the right words, the best way to show the importance of nutrition over weight is to, you guessed it, “ lead by example”. A kid will follow more what their parents do, rather than what they say. More interestingly, Researchers found that fathers who had weight-centered conversations had children who were significantly more likely to diet or to practice other unhealthy weight-control behaviors.
SO WHAT SHOULD YOU DO?
Parents should avoid conversations that focus on weight or losing weight and instead engage in conversations that focus on healthful eating, without reference to weight issues.
Parents not to use demeaning or shaming language and not to engage in badgering or harassment.
Parents should look for opportunities to lead by example, whether it’s picking the right foods at the supermarket or finding chances to exercise.
However, if a child is showing signs of an eating disorder, parents should take the child to a doctor because there could be other explanations for sudden weight changes, including depression and diabetes.