Five tips for talking to a child about their weight

Five tips for talking to a child about their weight

Having a child who is overweight or obese can be difficult to live with, both for the child and for their parents. To raise the subject in the best possible way, here are five tips, provided by Dr. Jack Yanovski, an American pediatric endocrinologist, interviewed by CNN.

In the United States, there is an average of 20% of children who are obese. In Europe too, the figures continue to grow and it was estimated in 2017 that 5.4% of children aged 6 to 17 were obese.

How to approach the subject with your child?

If you have an overweight or obese child, the issue of weight can be difficult to talk about. In addition to the stigma that the child may experience among his peers, the consequences on his future health must also be taken into account. According to Professor Yanovski, interviewed by our colleagues at CNN, “Most children who are overweight or obese at age 5 or 6 will have this type of problem throughout adolescence and into adulthood.“.

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Here are the five tips given by the specialist

If you feel that the issue of your child’s weight needs to be addressed, the specialist recommends being vigilant about how to go about it and gives five tips. “Parents must be vigilant and above all not make their child feel ashamed because of their relationship with food”. Rather:

Stay humble towards your child

Be humble and aware of how you speak, as there is often bias and weight stigmaexplains the doctor. No need to adopt the posture of the parent who knows everything. “Your children should feel comfortable and safe to share their concerns or struggles.” he adds. “If you need to make dietary changes or consider therapies, keep in mind that decision-making is a shared process.”

There is no standard weight

Children are growing beings and their growth involves weight gain, which is normal. “Remember that there is a ‘healthy weight range’ and children are expected to grow, especially during puberty.” adds Dr Yanovski. “You can seek advice from a pediatrician or doctor and discuss their weight, if necessary.”.

Make the right food choices

It is important to create a healthy food environment so that children can eat properly. “Create a healthy environment by checking the foods and snacks available at home” the specialist further explains. “For example, when children come home hungry from school, offer them a plate of fresh fruit. For meals, do not place the dish on the table but serve each portion on plates in the kitchen.

Don’t use food as a reward

Foods that children enjoy should not be given as rewards. “Don’t make food the ultimate reward for behavior, grades, or chores“advises the doctor again. “You can replace them with activities or other non-food rewards“.

Make sure you stay consistent

A child’s body is constantly changing, but in the face of this, parents must remain stable and consistent in their expectations. “Be careful not to slip into laxity or, on the contrary, to be too severe.” he finally warns. Parents are often demanding of their children. “But we need to avoid going too far with this type of behavior so that we can remain available to our children and help them through a very difficult time in their lives.” he concludes.

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