Talking to Kids About Health

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Watching one of my favorite movies “Spanglish” with my daughter the other night, there’s a situation in which the mother purposely buys too small clothes for her adolescent daughter. Sadly, the daughter is deeply offended by her mother’s gesture and it spawns a dispute between both parents. My daughter remarked how sad that situation was and how terrible it would be to have a mother treat her child that way.

As a parent, it’s easy to understand how deeply we care about our children and sometimes lack effective tools for every situation.

Ever wonder whether it’s a good idea to talk with your kids about health and weight loss?

Whether your child is overweight or not, parents can feel conflicted about how to have a healthy conversation. According to an article written by Michelle Hamilton at Runner’s World, a new study can offer some guidance.

The study published in JAMA Pediatrics analyzed data from two surveys completed by both parents and teenagers (average age 14) in 2009 and 2010.

“Overweight or obese teenagers whose mothers discussed healthy eating with them were less likely to skip meals, use diet pills or turn to binge eating to drop pounds, researchers at the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis found.

But conversations between parents and teens that focused on weight and size rather than health put those adolescents at a greater risk for adopting potentially harmful eating habits, according to the study.

The research [also] found that when both parents engaged kids in conversation about the importance of choosing healthy foods, overweight teens were more likely to sidestep unhealthy weight-control habits.

For parents who may wonder whether talking with their adolescent child about eating habits and weight is useful or detrimental, results from this study indicate that they may want to focus on discussing and promoting healthful eating behaviors rather than discussing weight and size, regardless of whether their child is non-overweight or overweight,” the authors conclude.

In our house, I spend a lot of time talking about healthy food selection with my family. It’s often hard not to focus more on my daughter than son when it comes to healthy eating. The reality is that she may be more at risk of having an unhealthy body image and being over weight.

Does this make me a “bad” mother or is it a reality of our society?

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