Dale Knut, now 58, says that in her childhood, weight was a source of grief – largely because of how her family treated her. "I had a brother who tortured me constantly," she says. "If I get home from school and get hungry and eat an apple, I'll be called a cow, a pig or whatever."
According to her parents, they did nothing to stop their brother, "except to say, 'Yes, you are fat.' "She had no physical exit because of her frustration – she wanted to play softball, but her mother wouldn't allow it.
Decades later, Knut is much happier. She has an active life that includes biking and playing racquetball. Her husband tells her that he loves her of any size and always will. But she still thinks about how her life could turn without so much shame in her childhood.
"If it wasn't stated at every meal, at any moment, did I have more support to exercise," she says, perhaps she could form healthier habits and more positive relationships with her body.
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According to Marlene Schwartz, a psychologist and director of the Center for Food Policy and Obesity in Rud, the child's immediate family may be a mere source of fat shame or comment negatively on their weight.
"I think sometimes parents mistakenly think that if they annoy the child, it will motivate them to try harder to lose weight," she says. "But there is virtually no evidence that it works. And there is actually evidence that it is causing harm."
For example, studies show that children who are underweight gain more weight than other children. And even less obvious cruel tactics, such as advising your child to lose weight or encouraging them to go on a diet, can often trigger a backlash, causing lasting physical and mental harm. A 2016 report by the American Academy of Pediatrics warned parents and doctors not to prescribe or discuss weight loss for children and teenagers, as such behavior may increase their risk of weight gain and poor nutrition.
However, parents can help overweight or obese children eat healthier, stay active and maintain a positive attitude towards their bodies. Here are tips for the best ways to communicate with your children about weight and support their health.
Don't be annoyed – and try to stop the annoyance of others. It is worth repeating: Never, ever make fun of your child because of his weight.
And parents can go beyond that, says Schwartz, by looking at what their children's relatives say. "I think it's perfectly appropriate if a parent feels like someone in the family is probably going to say something disturbing, talk to them ahead of time – say, 'Look, we know our child is overweight, we're working on development of healthy habits. Please don't tell him anything about their weight. "
And if someone says something, get involved, offer it. to a relative asking about themselves. "You want the child to feel safe around their own family," she says.
Encourage your positive image instead of focusing on weight.
comments that focus on your child's weight can trigger excitement, Schwartz says, "In my opinion, even 'gentle weight gain' is not a good idea." Studies support this: In a 2017 study in the journal Eating and Weight Disorders, researchers found that women who remember their parents, commenting on their weight in childhood, report greater dissatisfaction with their bodies and into adulthood – regardless of their actual BMI.
Instead, help your child feel comfortable in their body, regardless of size. For example: "If you are going to shop for clothes with your child, don't make comments [like]," It makes you look slimmer or it's too tight, "she says. "Focus on finding clothes that make your child comfortable, and be generous with your praise when your child finds a toilet."
Do not put your child on a diet.
Is it okay to put your child on a diet? The recent introduction of Kurbo, a weight loss app for eight-year-olds by WW (formerly Watchers) has raised this issue among parents and healthcare professionals.
Denise Wilfley, professor of psychiatry and director of the University of Scott Rudolph The Center for Healthy Weight and Wellness at Washington State University in St. Louis, did not recommend Courbois, writing in an email that "this is not an evidence-based program. " In fact, she does not recommend dieting for children at all; instead, it offers evidence-based programs that focus on "changing the whole family environment in support of the child."
Schwartz adds that the concept of a diet for children tends to be counterproductive because it emphasizes the short term deprivation . "The term 'dieting' is problematic because it means that you are doing something different for a certain period of time and when done, the child will return to its normal diet," she said via email. “This is not the question.”
Instead, choose to eat healthy throughout the year as a family.
The solution, Wilfley says, is to turn your entire household into a healthy environment, "where the child is exposed to high quality nutrition and physical activity prompts."
"It is good to have sugary drinks and snacks in the home, but this should be a small part compared to fruits, vegetables, lean meats," she says. But the whole family has to do it – don't separate any child. She says she has seen cases where parents will have one lean child, affording fried foods and sugary drinks, and one with obesity, who have been put on a strict diet – a "health-oriented plan, very fruity" and vegetables and water, low-fat milk. "
" We strongly recommend against this approach, "she says." You can't get Dad to come in with a burger and fries and expect the kid to not feel deprived, "she says. "It is this deprivation that nourishes the eating."
Focus on behavior, not is on body size. "
You may need to check your own biases," says Wilfley. "Most parents have internalized culture and negative attitudes about shape and weight; or they are ashamed of their bodies, or worrying about [their kids] being stigmatized, "she says. But reflecting these negative attitudes will only hurt your child's image and may even encourage weight gain. Instead, she says, you should help them understand that "having [a] a wider range of body types is okay."
"Form and weight are largely under genetic control. There are many genetic variations," Wilfley says. "So some kids [naturally] will be slimmer than other kids."
And after you shift your focus from the size of your child, reward them for healthy behavior. Praise them for playing football or for having breakfast. Overall, "focus on creating the healthiest environment for the whole family," says Schwartz.
Many overweight or obese children are interested in getting active and eating healthy. It is up to you to help them.
Model your healthy behavior.
If you are a parent, you know that your children often do what they see you do. Wilfley often works with entire families to develop healthy eating and exercise habits.
"A parent can only eat one meal a day and model this for their child," Wilfley says. "We know that optimally children eat three meals a day with one to two planned snacks." Wilfley's parents advocates set up their own regular eating, sleep and exercise procedures so that their child follows suit.