Talking to kids about weight loss can be a difficult discussion. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), childhood obesity has more than tripled in the past 30 years. In 2008, more than one third of children and adolescents were overweight or obese.
Overweight is defined as excess body weight for a specific height from bone, muscle or fat, and obesity is defined as excess body fat. Whether your child is overweight or obese, it is important that parents take it seriously and start talking to kids about weight loss early. Children may not “grow out of it” as they get older. No matter the age of the child, parents can do different things to help their children lose weight.
Start the Conversation
If children are overweight, chances are they are already aware of it. It is important for parents to have an honest and sensitive conversation with kids about losing weight, and it is best to have this conversation at a young age.
The key aspect of the conversation needs to be the health aspect. Rather than discussing numbers, like weight and sizes, talk about the health benefits of being fit and physically active. Explain how losing weight can improve overall well-being.
Do Things Together
Parents can do plenty of activities to help keep their children on track. Studies show families who eat together are healthier families. Parents have more time to prepare food, and they can make healthier food choices. Eating together also provides emotional benefits.
Parents and their kids gain quality time to talk. Families can also exercise together. They can take walks, ride bikes, go to the park, walk the dog – the list is endless! By doing all of these things together, parents are setting a good example for their children.
Out of Your Control
If the situation is beyond help within the home, different medical professionals can help. Parents can take their children to a pediatrician to discuss weight loss. The pediatrician can help explain health risks. A nutritionist can also help make meal plans for the entire family.
Beyond these options, it may be necessary to determine the possible underlying emotional causes of why the child is overweight or obese. A licensed behavioral health therapist can help the child discover the emotional factors influencing their weight, improve their self-esteem, and help the parents with goal setting.