Current trends in weigh is a significant problem in providing proper health care. Primary care providers are concerned about the emotional damage that could be done to overweight young children. But children learn from their parents, whether or not you talk to them.
A recent study reported that by the age of 4 years old, kids feel like they know what their body should look like. In the U.K., half of 6-10 year olds are unhappy about how they look. 20% of them state concerns about some foods making them fat. (Dove, 2016)
The National Eating Disorders Association reports that among 6-8 year olds, 50% of girls and 33% of boys think their ideal weight is thinner than their current weight. By age 9-11 years, nearly half of all kids have been on a diet and 80% of them reported their families have been on a diet. Even girls who are not overweight report occasionally dieting. (Association, n.d.) This is not limited to girls. Adolescent boys want to be attractive by decreasing fat and increasing muscle mass. Boy’s body dissatisfaction can last a lifetime. (guardian, 2012)
Poor body image places our children at a higher risk for low self-esteem, anxiety and depression as well as alcohol and drug abuse. If we can slow the trend of weight gain, children will grow into their proper body size. But parents need to take an active role in teaching better life-skills.
Your kids are watching you.
Parental obesity is a predictor of their child’s future weight problems. (Svensson V., 2011;35) Kids know if weight problems cause health problems in their parents, it could also cause them health problems in their future. Children understand more than you realize.
Parents need to be careful what they communicate to their children. It is our nature to try to protect them and provide for them the best we know how. Whether they are talking to their kids, or just talking among the parents, kids are learning at a very young age what foods will make them fat. Their focus on unhealthy foods can set them up for an unhealthy eating behaviors.
As young teens, I have seen students do unhealthy things to lose weight. Many times it starts with skipping meals. We know when you skip meals you get extra hungry which encourages you to eat faster. Many times that results in eating more calories than what is needed. I have also seen young teens try to increase calories burned by increasing their caffeine. These patterns are indicators of their willingness to take risks to lose weight. The incidence of eating disorders among high school students is on the rise. (guardian, 2012)
Be open to trying different things.
Parents need to teach their children to eat more vegetables. I have had students tell me they don’t lie vegetables. Then I ask if they like pickles. Most of them have found at least one type of pickle they will eat. My point, there are a wide variety of recipes available for vegetables. My daughter used to absolutely refuse to eat green beans. Then one day she tried cooking frozen green beans. My husband refused to eat canned peas; he likes frozen peas. I refer most of my vegetables raw. You may need to experiment with the type of vegetables and how to prepare it. Most children will get raw vegetables with dip. If it encourages them to eat their vegetables, buy the dip they like!
Beauty comes from within.
Everyone can recall someone who was a delight to be around, even though they may have been overweight. I recall the recurring weigh problems of Oprah. Oprah’s beauty shines from within. It doesn’t matter to us what size she is wearing, people want to be around her. Her beauty shines from within her. Find examples of people your children can relate to. Teach them that real beauty is more than skin deep. It stems from self-confidence and self-esteem. The number one subject of peer pressure today is weight issues. (Generation)
Talk to your children about weight problems. If you don’t I guarantee they are talking with their peers. It is reported that parents feel it is harder to talk to their children about weight problems than it is about drugs or sex. So prepare yourself. The resource from the STOP Obesity Alliance & Alliance for a Healthier Generation, “WEIGH IN” is a very good resource to help parents answer kid’s questions. It also have suggestions on what you can do to address the problem. I recommend you prepare yourself for this talk. Your kids may not want to hear you. They will probably say they already know all about it. Talk to them anyway.
It is all about their future.
Remember this is all about their future. Avoiding the health issues caused by uncontrolled weight gain is essential to their health. Focus on how they will feel. Children with weight problems have less energy to play on the playground, or ride a bike fast, or dance. Overweight children often have problems with asthma and sleep apnea. Focus on how their lives will be better today.
Give it time!
Young children will grow out of many weight issues if they are given the guidance and direction to live in this world. Parents truly need to take an active role is preparing their children for their future health. For more information concerning the health risks of childhood obesity, please monitor my blog.
Association, N. E. (n.d.). NEDA. Retrieved from https://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/get-facts-eating-disorders.
Dove, E. a. (2016, 08 30). “Campaign for Real Beauty”. Retrieved from www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/08/30/children-as-young-as three-have-body-image-issues-while-four-yea/.
Generation, S. O. (n.d.). Weigh in, Talk to your children about weigh and Health. Washington D.C., United States.
Guardian, t. (2012, 01 06). Body image concerns men more than women. Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2012/jan/06/body-image-concerns-men-more-than-women.
Svensson V., J. J. (2011;35). Associations between severity of obesity in childhood and adolescence, obesity onset and parental BMI: a longitudinal cohort study. Int Journal Obesity, 46-52.