Since September is National Childhood Obesity month, we thought it might be a good time to discuss a difficult, and sometimes uncomfortable, topic: finding ways to talk with your children about losing weight.
Obesity is a serious issue involving people of all ages, but the statistics regarding childhood obesity are particularly alarming. In fact, childhood obesity statistics have doubled in the last 30 years. And adolescent obesity has quadrupled, according to estimates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
While staying at a healthy weight is important, it’s also important to broach the subject carefully and sensitively, as you don’t want to cause any unnecessary insecurities or obsessions down the road.
If your child asks about their weight, talk honestly with them about your concerns without being alarming. Lying to them and telling them they’re at a healthy weight may help their self-esteem short-term, but avoids an issue that can cause serious health problems later in life.
Instead, be open with your child when they ask about their weight or losing weight, and offer positive ways to get healthier. Refrain from using negative adjectives like fat, and instead tell them you want to help, offering options like a kids weight loss program or other healthy activities that you can do together.
Focus on health, rather than aesthetics. Most children don’t understand the impact excess weight can have on their health. Be informative, while also being sensitive to the fact that health issues can be frightening to children.
You should never direct negative comments towards, or make fun of your child for being overweight. It’s more effective to provide opportunities for them to get active and eat healthy than it is to tear them down and point out weight problems without offering solutions.
This also goes for negative comments about what they’re eating. Instead, offer healthy alternatives and explain the benefits of choosing them over junk food. A good way to get children to eat healthier is to involve them in the cooking process. Ask them to help with dinner and let them choose what to make from a handful of healthy options.
Lead by example by making some swaps in your diet too. Avoid complaining and try not to make it feel like deprivation. Instead, make it feel like a healthy journey that you’re going on together.
Lead by Example
Your children look up to you, and the best way to talk to them about weight loss is to lead by an example. Keep only healthy foods in the home, strive to stay active yourself and make sure to compliment or encourage your child when they mimic the positive behaviors you’re showing them and making progress.
Know that there will be setbacks. Instead of punishing your child or making them feel like they’ve failed, remind them that it happens and the best thing to do is get right back on track, even after a bad day.
When approaching children’s weight loss, it’s important to realize you’re not alone. A structured children’s weight loss program can help provide the support and guidance that you both need.
Whether or not you can advantage during Childhood Obesity Month, you can always find more information about our youth program.