Friday, June 17, 2016

Should you talk to your child about weight?

Boy does this topic resonate with me. I was the only "fat" one in my family--all the rest were "normal" and athletic. My Dad was a jogger (and a psychiatrist who should have known better) and he insulted and ragged on me constantly about my weight--called me names ("a baby elephant" is one I remember). He also forced me to to jog--threatened to kill me if I didn't (ah, psychiatrists). Anyhow, it was bad. I was put on amphetamines at 12. The whole drill.

I lost the whole amount two and a half times--but am still large. When I turned 40, I tossed the scale and started just living. My own daughter is not thin--but I rarely if ever say anything. What can I say? We always had healthy food in the house, did not pig out on Hostess, etc. And here we are.

Roni Caryn Rabin wrote about this in the New York Times, June 16, 2016. She cites a study in the Journal of Eating and Weight Disorders that says that parents' careless, though usually well-meaning, comments about weight are often predictors of unhealthy dieting, binge eating, and other disorders.

Comments about weight can stick with a daughter, for instance, even if she is not overweight as an adult.

Girls are especially susceptible to negative comments because they are "expected" to be thin in today's culture.

The study looked at 500 women in their 20s and early 30s who were asked about their body image and also about how their parents commented about their weight. Even the nornal weight women who remembered comments were likely to think they still needed to lose.

One investigator called such comments "a scarring influence."

The study also showed comments from family members stuck more than those from unrelated people.

When parents talked to their kids about losing weight, emphasizing healthy eating rather than weight caused fewer unhealthy behaviors to develop.

Tying weight to the perception of the child makes the child think they are not valued.

So what can a concerned parent do? Suggested were:

--Keeping health food in the house and not buying soda.

--Having family dinners with pleasant subject matter.

--Being physically active as an example.

--Not bemoaning your own weight.

If the child ASKS for help in losing weight, research it and do it. Of course, my mother a retired home economics teacher, did try to help me--but in weird ways--such as saying eat only cottage cheese.

This may not be one you can win.

1 comment:

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