Jul 01, 2013

    Focus on kids' diet, not weight

    FOOD, nutrition and weight are hot topics in the world of parenting. Now, a University of Minnesota study has shed light on how to talk to kids about these topics - important tools when obesity rates are on the rise, said Minneapolis TV station Kare 11.

    "Many (parents) ask their health-care providers: 'What should I say? Should I have a conversation? Should I avoid it?'" said researcher Jerica Berge.

    The study, titled Parent Conversations About Healthful Eating And Weight and published in Jama Pediatrics, has found that it might not be helpful to tell a child outright that they are overweight.

    Instead, "it does help to focus more on healthy eating, rather than confronting a child directly about his weight", Dr Berge said. The researchers surveyed more than 3,500 parents and asked them how they talk to their adolescent children.

    They also surveyed those parents' some 2,300 kids and asked them how they control their weight.

    They found that parents who were focused on weight conversations had kids who had more unhealthy behaviours around weight control and dieting, said Dr Berge.

    "Those are (behaviours) like binging, purging and taking laxatives and diuretics, whereas parents who focused more on healthy-eating messages had adolescents who engaged in fewer of those unhealthy dieting and weight-control behaviours," she told Kare 11.

    Those unhealthy behaviours can lead to eating disorders or obesity, she added.

    Instead, she advised that parents focus on getting information like the importance of eating fruit and vegetables so you have a healthy body, rather than on showing concern over your child's weight.