Lately, we’ve been talking about weight denial. If you missed a post, get caught up below…
- Majority of parents practice childhood obesity denial
- Why are parents in denial when it comes to childhood weight issues?
Why Beat Denial?
If you have an inkling that your child may be overweight or if a doctor has mentioned that your child is overweight, you could ignore it, but that’s not very wise. Health habits change with support not avoidance.
Weight, food and activity issues are taboo only because we make them so. It’s worth it to deal with denial issues, because…
Weight is a health concern: Considered how excess weight or lack of physical activity may harm your child, now and in the future. If you don’t believe that excess weight poses a health risk, you’re fooling yourself. Kids who weigh too much are at risk for many health problems. Even kids who are not overweight but who eat poorly and don’t exercise are at risk for health problems, so bringing up healthy topics is a good idea.
There are worse conversations to have: Do you want to have the weight, healthy food and exercise conversations with your child now or do you want to wait until you are forced to have a diabetes, hypertension or gall bladder disease conversation with your child? These are real disease that children get when they’re overweight.
The sooner the better: It’s easier to discuss weight, food and exercise issues now, then it is to have to inject your child with insulin later on because you said nothing or know that as an adult they’re at a greater risk for heart attack, stroke and early death.
Kids believe what you believe: Kids who are overweight, with parents who don’t bring it up, often think they’re underweight or the right weight. This does not help a kid build healthy habits for life. In fact, one excellent study shows that youth who understood that they were overweight were not more likely to engage in risky weight-related behaviors, such as vomiting or taking medications. Kids who did understand that they were overweight in this study were actually far more likely be trying out healthier habits like exercising and eating less.
Most importantly, kids want to talk about it
I’m always curious about what kids themselves think about weight, diet and activity, so I was reading some youth forums on weight loss and I saw some very interesting and smart comments from kids. For example, one crazy clever preteen stated the following:
“A kid who does drugs or smokes would get in trouble if their parents found out. But no one is going to ground you for eating, which can be equally as damaging and is equally as difficult to stop.“
Another child noted, “If parents took the time to listen to their kids, less kids would go to the fridge when they’re depressed.”
Maybe you’re ignoring food and activity issues in your own home, or maybe you’re not, but if you start visiting forums for kids that relate to weight loss, diet or food issues many like-minded comments from young kids and teens crop up. Kids really don’t seem to think that parents are offering the support they need.
It’s an intriguing but problematic situation and there’s plenty of research to back up what these kids say, akin to parents really do or don’t make a big difference when it comes to healthy habits.
What can parents do?
The Mayo Clinic offers an excellent piece on what to do when you or someone you care about is in denial. I’d start there.
Research suggests that it can be very useful for parents to realize that being overweight is an actual health risk for their child and not merely an aesthetic concern. That’s true. A healthy weight should not be about your child fitting into skinny jeans or being more attractive. You won’t get far thinking like that, especially since attractiveness is (or should be) in the eye of the beholder anyhow.
You want to think about healthy weight as it relates to overall health. Kids who are overweight face more health risks than kids who are at a proper weight for their size.
“The Talk” is designed to give you the support you need to start this important conversation. First, we’ll give you some things to think about and then, when you’re ready, you can get started. We’ll walk you through The Talk every step of the way.
If you need help facing these issues, The Talk can seriously help.