As of 2010, 12.5 million US adolescents (16.9%) are overweight or obese. Alongside those statistics has been the rise of families and doctors putting kids on commercial diets to prevent and manage overweight. Recently released research from the American Academy of Pediatrics is strongly urging the opposite.
The research shows that dieting adolescents are up to three times more likely to become overweight and one and a half times more likely to develop an eating disorder than their non-dieting counterparts. “Weight talk,” negative remarks about one’s weight or body image, and “weight teasing,” poking fun or commenting on another person’s weight, are also risks for children.
So what is the best way for you as a parent to manage your child’s weight? The AAP says shifting the focus from WEIGHT to HEALTH is the answer.
Practices such as regular family meals, family play or exercise sessions, and constructive comments about health are the place to start. Taking extra steps like limiting access to calorie-dense foods and enabling access to more nutrient-dense foods give children a great health advantage.
Furthermore, parents do not have to wait until their child is overweight or obese to begin these strategies. Mothers who exercise while pregnant have been shown to have children who tend to be more physically active than mothers who do not.
The bottom line is: Parents who emphasize health – in themselves and their children – are much more likely to have healthy, thriving adolescents with positive body images than those who do not.
Need Family Activity Ideas? Try these!
- Capture the Flag
- Hula Hoop Competition
- Three-Legged Race
- Backyard Basketball
- Flag Football
- Ladder Golf
- Corn Hole
- Frisbee Golf