Talking to children about weight, healthy eating habits

Posted on: 2:59 pm, August 1, 2013, by

Weight is a sensitive subject with children, especially if they are overweight, and it can be hard for parents to find the right way to bring up eating habits.

Jerica Berge said, “Many of them ask their health care providers, ‘What should I say? Should I have a conversation? Should I avoid it?’ And health care providers wonder themselves, ‘What do I tell parents?”

Researchers created a study to find the best way to approach weight.

While some parents believe you have to tell children they are overweight, Berge says her new study suggests otherwise.

She said, “It really does help to focus on the healthy eating rather than confronting a child directly about their weight.”

Researchers asked parents how they talk to their adolescent children and then asked those kids how they control their weight.

Berge said, “Parents who focused on weight conversations had adolescents who engaged in more unhealthy weight control behaviors and dieting. Those are things like bingeing and purging and taking laxatives, diuretics. Whereas parents who focused more on the healthy eating messages had adolescents who engaged in fewer of those unhealthy dieting and weight control behaviors.”

Experts suggest starting those conversations early and be a good example for the little ones watching you.

One school lunch program in Orosi, California has gained the First Lady’s attention.

“I know that it’s healthy, but it’s so good tasting that’s why I like it,” said Yessenia Sanchez, a fourth grader at Golden Valley Elementary where students are making healthy choices at lunch, mainly because they are not given anything to choose from that is bad.

“It’s really surprising how many kids are picking a tossed salad,” said Food Service Director Brenda Handy.

Not only salads, but also fresh fruits and vegetables that are individually packaged here at the school to ensure kids are getting the recommended half cup serving a day.