Childhood Obesity – What can Parents do?
As the government becomes more aware of the problem of childhood obesity, schools in the UK are now planning to weigh and measure all children at the ages of 4-5, when they start primary school and again at 10-11, when they are about to leave for secondary education. This is something which is already being carried out in the US, but how effective is it? There are arguments that children will be stigmatised and that this will increase bullying, as well as leading to an increased number of children suffering from eating disorders in the future. In addition, many people feel that parents should be able to tell that their child is overweight and that the money could be put to better use by doing something to help change the situation. As a parent, what can you do to help your children keep their weight under control? It is important to be aware of children’s feelings – if they are being bullied at school, parents need to be sure they aren’t feeling “got at” at home by nagging parents, which will only increase feelings of isolation and failure. Parents can set a good example by providing healthy meals and not eating junk food themselves, but it’s important to allow some treats, as being over strict is likely to cause friction and could be counterproductive. If the whole family learn about healthy eating and try cooking new healthy recipes together, kids won’t feel they are being singled out.
It is also important not to focus too much on food. Although it is an important part of life and can’t be avoided, it should not be made the main topic of discussion in the family. If children are constantly reminded of their weight and what overeating can do to them, they could develop an unhealthy attitude towards food. So be sure to focus on other things, particularly areas of life which are not stressful and which your child enjoys. © Waller Jamison 2006.
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