Tune in to Help Kids Lose Weight

Healthy listening empowers children to lose weight

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Weight is often a sore subject to bring up. Who wants to hear they're overweight - or even worse, that their kids are overweight? Not many. Still, help is always better sooner than later.

You’d think it would be easy for parents to talk to their own kids about weight management, but it's not. Kids hate to hear they have weight problems, especially when they're in their growing phases and just trying to fit in. 

"Listen to your kids to hear the problem; then act."

Dianne Neurmark-Sztainer, a professor from the University of Minnesota, has some helpful hints for parents. She recently told the Seatle Times that most overweight children already know they're overweight. Avoiding the problem isn't going to solve anything. But what’s the best way for parents to begin a dialogue?

Neurmark-Sztainer says that kids might start the conversation by themselves, so all you have to do is listen. Once the door is open, rather than focusing on weight, parents can shift the conversation to behavior changes like exercising or choosing healthier foods.

Instead of telling them what to do - because most kids won't listen to you anyway - ask them what they want to do differently, says Mollie Grow, M.D., a Seattle Children's Hospital pediatrician. Then help out in any way you can to help your child reach his or her goals.

Helping children understand the difference between eating from hunger and eating from feelings can also help with weight management, says Dr. Grow. Before you give them second servings, suggest they wait a few minutes to see if they’re actually still hungry or just wanting to eat because they had a bad day, she counsels.

You should also try to provide an environment where it's easy for kids to choose healthier foods, says Neurmark-Sztainer. Don't leave Cheetos and Coke lying around. Even better, keep them out of the house altogether. Stock the fridge with fruits and juice instead.

So first, stop to listen to see if your child is hinting at needing or wanting help, and then do whatever you can to help them to start and keep healthier habits.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
June 29, 2011
Last Updated:
June 30, 2011