The healthy way to talk to your kids about weight

By John Pastor • Published: November 29th, 2013
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

If you’re a parent worried about your child’s weight, it may seem natural to discuss those concerns with your child. A new study shows it’s important to choose the topic of these conversations carefully in order to have a positive impact on children’s eating behaviors.

Researchers at the University of Minnesota found that when parents of teenagers talked to their kids about healthy eating and did not refer to weight issues, their children were less likely to engage in unhealthy weight control behaviors, such as fad dieting and binge eating. But when parents focused on their child’s weight, such as telling the child that he or she weighs too much or should eat differently to lose weight, those teens were more likely to diet or develop unhealthy eating habits.

Experts say that parents of both overweight and healthy weight children should emphasize healthy eating and physical activity with their kids, rather than weight or size. This promotes healthy weight and fitness as well as improved mood and high self-esteem.

One way to start a conversation about healthy eating is to take your child grocery shopping. As you stroll through the aisles, teach your child about nutrition and where different foods come from and how they are made. Then let your child help choose the fruits, vegetables, grains and lean proteins you take home. Have them join you in the kitchen for meal prep, too.

But one of the best ways to teach your child a healthy lifestyle may not be in the things you say, but the things you do. Children model their parents’ behaviors, so be a good example and let your child see you enjoying nutritious foods and daily exercise. And when you involve the whole family in these activities, everyone benefits.