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Posts Tagged ‘Lifestyle’

Tips for Parents on Helping Their Children Overcome Obesity

September 19, 2011

It was great to read a list of suggestions by Joanna Dolgoff M.D. with suggestions for parents with obese children.  It was a welcome departure from the “name, shame and threaten” methods being employed by some sections of society on parents who clearly require support.

These suggestions are steeped in common sense and encourage a positive approach:

What Parents Can Do to Help

Be supportive: Overweight children need support, acceptance and encouragement from their parents. Children’s feelings about themselves often are based on their parents’ feelings about them. It is also important to talk to your children about weight, allowing them to share their concerns with you.

Don’t use food as a punishment or reward: Withholding food as a punishment may lead children to worry that they will not get enough food which may result in overeating. When foods, such as sweets, are used as a reward, children may assume that these foods are better or more valuable than other foods. For example, telling children that they will get dessert if they eat all of their vegetables sends the wrong message about vegetables.

Set a good example: Children are good learners and they learn best by example. Set a good example for your kids by eating a variety of foods and being physically active. Involve children in food shopping and preparing. Children may be more willing to eat or try foods that they help prepare.

Teach healthy habits: Teaching healthy eating practices early will help children approach eating with the right attitude: Food should be enjoyed and is necessary for growth, development and essential energy. Guide their choices rather than dictating foods. This will help your children learn how to make healthy food choices. Encourage your child to eat slowly. A child can detect hunger and fullness better when eating slowly.

Cut down on some fats: Reducing fat is a good way to cut calories without depriving your child of nutrients. Simple ways to cut the fat in your family’s diet include eating low-fat or non-fat dairy products, poultry without skin and lean meats, and low-fat or fat-free breads and cereals. However, make sure not to cut out healthy sources of fat such as walnuts, almonds and avocado.

Healthy snacking: You should make snacks as nutritious as possible, without depriving your child of occasional chips or cookies, especially at parties or other social events. Healthy snacks include: applesauce, carrot sticks with hummus, peanut butter on apples, yogurt, dried fruit, fruit juice popsicles, low fat cheese etc.

Increase your physical activity: Regular physical activity, combined with healthy eating habits, is the most efficient and healthful way to control your weight. Some simple ways to increase your family’s physical activity include the following: Plan family activities like walking, dancing, biking or swimming.

For example, schedule a walk with your family after dinner instead of watching TV or playing video games. Overweight children may feel uncomfortable about participating in certain activities so it is important to help your child find physical activities that they enjoy and that aren’t embarrassing or too difficult.

Instead of judging parents with obese children negatively, I feel it is important to encourage, educate and support parents.  Dr. Dologoff’s list is a reminder that the answers lie with positive change and the adcocation of healthier living.

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Television and Body Image

November 12, 2010

It seems that television has an incredibly strong effect on our kids’ body image.  Television, especially advertisements, depict a world of wafer-like slim models that lead impressionable children to measure themselves against what they see on the screen.

A landmark study, recently brought to my attention, was conducted by Harvard Medical School focussing on Fiji.  Prior to the introduction of television in Fiji body weight was seen as sensual thing and hardly something to be anxious about.

The Harvard Medical School visited Fiji to evaluate the effect of the introduction of television on body satisfaction and disordered eating in adolescent girls.

In 1995, television arrived and within three years the percentage of girls demonstrating body dissatisfaction rose from 12.7 per cent to 29.2 per cent.  

Dieting among teenagers who watched TV increased dramatically to two in every three girls and the rate of self-induced vomiting leapt from zero to 11.3 per cent.

I am not advocating against the right for advertisers or television executives to sell products and make the kind of entertainment that sells.  I do however, request that wherever possible, all involved make responsible choices and consider the effect their content has on impressionable children.


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