There’s a right way and a wrong way to persuade your adolescent to eat healthy and help avoid obesity, a new study suggests.
Pointedly connecting food with fatness or talking about needed weight loss is the wrong way and could even encourage unhealthy eating habits, researchers report.
Instead, discussions that focus on simply eating healthfully are less likely to send kids down this road, a new study shows.
“A lot of parents are aware of the obesity problem in the U.S — it’s everywhere you turn — but they wonder how to talk about it with their children,” said study lead author Dr. Jerica Berge of the University of Minnesota Medical School in Minneapolis.
She advises that parents “tell kids to eat more fruits and vegetables because eating them will make them healthy and strong. Don’t connect these conversations to weight and size.”
The study is published online June 24 in JAMA Pediatrics.
Childhood obesity has more than tripled in adolescents in the United States over the past 30 years, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This has had a profound effect on children’s health, with condition formerly only seen in adults, such as type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure, now being diagnosed in children.
The new study included survey data from more than 2,300 adolescents with an average age of about 14 and more than 3,500 parents.
Wed Jun 19 2013 – AMA declares obesity a disease
The American Medical Assn. voted Tuesday to declare obesity a disease, a move that effectively defines 78 million American adults and 12 million children as having a medical condition requiring treatment.
The nation’s leading physicians organization took the vote after debating whether the action would do more to help affected patients get useful treatment or would further stigmatize a condition with many causes and few easy fixes.
In the end, members of the AMA’s House of Delegates rejected cautionary advice from their own experts and extended the new status to a condition that affects more than one-third of adults and 17% of children in the United States.
“Recognizing obesity as a disease will help change the way the medical community tackles this complex issue that affects approximately 1 in 3 Americans,” said Dr. Patrice Harris, an AMA board member.
Tuesday’s vote is certain to step up pressure on health insurance companies to reimburse physicians for the time-consuming task of discussing obesity’s health risks with patients whose body mass index exceeds 30. It should also encourage doctors to direct these patients to weight-loss programs and to monitor their often-fitful progress.