Why You Should Never Comment On Your Teen’s Weight


    Experts agree that talking about the need to diet and lose weight is one of the most unhealthy, counterproductive things a mother can do for a teen who is struggling with weight issues.

    Now, new guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics formally endorse those findings. In order to prevent obesity and eating disorder, mothers should focus less on diets and the scale and underscore family togetherness and workout for fitness , not weight loss. The AAP included both obesity and eating disorder in their recommendations because these often share unhealthy behaviors such as dieting, bingeing and having a dissatisfied opinion of one’s body.

    Obesity in teens has quadrupled in the past 30 years; in 2012, 21 percentage of young people aged 12 to 19 were obese. Teens who are obese are more likely to have bone or joint problems, as well as sleep apnea. They’re also more likely to develop prediabetes, which can lead to Type 2 diabetes. On top of that, teens who are obese are more likely to grow up to become obese adults who will face heightened risks for illness including cancer and stroke.

    Tweens and teens make up the bulk of eating disorder hospitalizations. In 2012, children aged 10 to 17 years old accounted for more than 90 percentage of all hospitalizations for children with eating disorder, according to data from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality( AHRQ) Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project( HCUP ). The AAP report was compiled, in part, over growing concern about the unhealthy way teens are trying to lose weight.

    Here are six takeaways from research reports, published in the periodical Pediatrics. These recommendations are for both the physicians and parents, and they apply to all teens — not just those with weight problems.

    What not to do:

    Never encourage dieting.

    Dieting packs a double whammy because it’s a risk factor for both obesity and eating disorder. Girls who weren’t obese but dieted in the ninth grade were three times were likely to be overweight by 12 th grade, compared to girls who didn’t diet. And young people who severely reduced their caloric intake and skipped meals were 18 times more likely to develop an eating disorder than those who didn’t diet. Even just moderate dieting increased a teen’s danger of developing an eating disorder fivefold.

    ”A 3-year-old may not be worried if she’s a little bit overweight, whereas an adolescent may try unhealthy weight-loss methods like fasting or diet pills and end up in a vicious circle of more weight gain, ” explained lead author Dr. Neville Golden, a pediatrics professor at the Stanford University School of Medicine, in a statement.

    Don’t comment on your child’s weight, or even your weight.

    What you say matters; teens who talk about weight with their parents are also more likely to diet, binge eat and have unhealthy weight control behaviors, but this risk lessens if the subject matter is about healthy feeing behaviors.

    No matter how well-intentioned or seemingly benign you think your comments are, analyses show that remarks parents make about either their own weight or their child’s weight is linked to a child’s risk of being overweight and developing an eating disorder.

    It’s important to note here that a teen doesn’t have to look too thin for a mother to be concerned that they might have an eating disorder, said Golden.

    “This is a dangerous category of patient, because they’re often missed by physicians, ” he said. “At some point, these patients may have had a real need to lose weight, but things get out of control.”

    Never tease teens about their weight.

    This seems obvious, but bears repeating since a significant minority of overweight teens say they’ve experienced weight-related pestering from friends or family members. Cruel taunts about weight increase a child’s danger of both being overweight and developing eating disorders, and the ache can last into adulthood.

    Dianne Neumark-Sztainer, a researcher who focuses on teen health and nutrition, previously told HuffPost that mothers should make their homes a sanctuary where kids feel safe from weight-related teasing.

    “Our children need to know that they can tell us what happened without receiving advice on how to lose weight, ” she said.

    What to do instead:

    Eat together.

    While feeing meals together as a family has not been shown to reduce obesity rates, it does improve the nutritional content of a child’s diet and it allows parents to model healthy eating behaviours in front of their children, the report said. One analyse found that households who feed dinners together seven or more times per week eat more fruits and vegetables compared to households who never eat together, and for the kids, this increased intake of fruits and veggies persisted into young adulthood. Another analyse found that eating family dinners most days during the previous years seemed to protect children from binge eating, dieting and purging behaviors.

    Focus on a balanced diet and exercising not weight loss.

    Encourage healthy body image by encouraging kids to eat healthfully and exercising for fitness not for weight loss. Teens who have these positive influences are more likely to report being happy with their bodies and less likely to say they had weight-related concerns. Kids who are dissatisfied with their bodies, on the other hand, are more likely to develop eating disorders, diet and have lower levels of physical activity.

    Create a healthy home environment.

    While it may seem from the AAP recommendations that a mother is more hemmed in about what they should or shouldn’t say to encourage a healthy lifestyle in children, the truth is that what a parent does says volumes about the best style to approach eating, workout and body image.

    The report says that parents can create a healthy food environment at home by buying and serving fruit, vegetables, whole grains, beans and water, while keeping artificial sweeteners, sugar-sweetened drinks and refined carbs away. Mothers can also promote physical activity by maintaining TVs out of children’s bedrooms. Indeed, health interventions for both obesity and eating disorder are most effective when the whole family is involved in the treatment — not only the child who needs help.

    CORRECTION : A previous version of this story reported that eating disorders caused more than 90 percent of hospitalizations in teens. This is mistaken, and we regret the error.

    Read more: www.huffingtonpost.com


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