What’s the best way to talk to kids about their weight?

Today’s Daily Circuit looks at childhood obesity, which is reported to have tripled in the past 30 years. Today’s Question: What’s the best way to talk to kids about their weight?

  • reggie

    To talk to kids about their weight (or anything else), you’ll first have to get them to turn off their phones, laptops, iPods, Xboxes, PlayStations, and televisions. And if parents are serious about doing more than talk about helping their kids lose weight, they’ll walk the walk by shutting off all of their own devices and cooking healthy meals more often. Taking a brisk walk after dinner would be a good thing for everyone, too.

  • Jeannine

    Kids don’t need to be told they are fat, and if there really is an issue, it shouldn’t be approached with talking about numbers (weight or clothes sizes), but by talking about and helping them make healthy choices. Make physical activity fun, and prepare healthy foods that taste good.

  • Tom

    Preach the Gospel always and when necessary, use words. Kids who watch their parents eat healthy and make exercise a priority will do the same.

  • You’re fat!

    Maybe their fat parents should learn to buy and serve a vegetable once in a while and stop driving to McDonald’s or Pizza ranch. Then the lot of them should go for a walk and do something else but sit in front of some sort of electronic device. It’s not hard, but you see the trick is that your kids shouldn’t be fat in the first place.

    Do we need some sort of report to know kids are fat? I can see the epidemic every time I go out in public. When I was a kid, THE fat kid was the baseball team’s catcher, now you can’t even put together a team unless it’s online.

    Enough talk, walk.

  • Jennifer

    My son is overweight and I am so sad and frustrated. We both eat very healthy (we follow the Eat Clean Diet). We workout, he is on the swim team at the Y and practices 4.5 hours a week. I am a healthy weight but he is not and it is breaking my heart. We have talked about being healthy and what it means and about good choices.

    I will be listening to the show today hoping for some tips or advice I can use.

  • Billy

    Hold that thought please..

    Mom!! we’re out of Captain Crunch and Mountain Dew!!

    Mom!! I need some money for Lunch @ McDonald’s or maybe Taco Bell!!

    BTW!! I ain’t FAT!!

    Get real, I look just like my MOM and DAD.

  • Allie

    People are free to become fat. If you don’t want a health care system where thin people share the expense of treating fat people, then you should advocate for the end of socialized medicine, not fat people.

    As for costs to society, longevity trumps them all. Fat people are like smokers, they tend to die young. It’s the healthy thin people who live to 90 who are the real burden. So our new public health initiative should be: Free milk shakes and fudge for anyone over 60!!

  • denise

    @ jennifer talk to your son’s physician about his size and weight. My son was always the largest in his class. I would have to buy large pants and cut down the legs, because his waist size was so big for his age. I spoke to his doctor did I have to worry about him as a “fat teenager” ? My son played sports, basketball and soccer. My doctor said no, he was a large baby at birth (( 8lbs. , 22 inches) and will shoot up and thin out. Around age 16 he did grow a lot and became lanky and thin. At 25 yrs.he is now 6 ft. 4. One contributing factor was he took up bicycling as a sport and started to eat more a diet w/ more protein and less junk. I was a heavy teenager too. I learned about calories and activity and moderation. I work on keeping thinner.

  • Sue

    I teach Physical Education and Health.

    One of my concerns is that the frequency of obesity of adults in America is becoming a “norm” that kids may see as simply the way people are supposed to look. These “norms” need to be confronted by all the adults who come in contact with kids!

    I contend that if parents were to visit their child’s PE class for one day to see the difference in performance and activity level between a normal weight child and their overweight child, they may seriously consider making changes in their family’s lifestyle.

  • Nan

    I try to educate my kids about the benefits of good nutrition and an active lifestyle not to keep them from being fat but to help them be healthy throughout their lives. Their father has been thin all his life but now that he is middle aged, he has high blood pressure, high cholesterol and moderately high blood glucose levels. I am obese but do not have these health problems. Maybe it’s because I’m a vegetarian who walks every day. Or maybe it’s because my husband’s parents have high blood pressure and high cholesterol and so there’s a genetic connection unrelated to weight. Regardless, please don’t be so quick to think you understand what’s going on when you see a fat kid or a thin kid or to assume you know what their futures hold.

    Understanding the etiology of every day disease is supposed to allow us to help people, not vilify them.

  • Thomas

    In some ways probably the best conversations with kids about their weight are the ones that don’t have to happen. As a parent, and more generally as a society, we need to model active and healthy lifestyles. We need to lead by example to have real impacts on the health of future generations.

    Don’t eat junk, engage in active transit (biking and walking), engage in physical recreation and limit screen time for your own entertainment. If kids see their parents and other adults engaged in active lifestyles, not just sporadic trips to the gym, I suspect they will pick up on this and have these issues at a lower rate. If they see their parents on the couch, watching TV and eating junk they will do the same. Kids model behavior and live with the consequences of that.

    I think we also need to talk about health, not about weight. If we are making the lifestyle choices that make us healthy it’s going to make these conversations easier and more sane when we do have them.

    Also, let’s no impose our adult neurosis about our own bodies on our kids. If they are active and don’t eat garbage it’ll probably all be fine.

  • JEB

    We focus on health and fitness, and less on weight. Our current focus at my martial arts studio is “fitness”. I have been teaching the students that their body is like a car. If they don’t put the right fuel in the gas tank, the car won’t run as well as it could. Educating the children, as well as the parents, about eating right and activity no matter what the situation is the key. Then, the parents and other role models need to have a little willpower to set the example, and remember that they are parents, and will limit unhealthy choices available to their children. BTW, I do believe there is nothing wrong with the occasional “naughty”. :)

  • Ann

    I, as an adult, am sick of all the media hype about weight. The weight standards were changed about 20 years ago to such an extent that even very muscular people were labeled as “obese” because their muscle made them heavier. We used to be able to enjoy food and not feel guilty about sitting in a chair. I am tired of being thin and constantly being reminded that I have to try to stay thin and not go back to being chubby. I was happier then. The media hype is so bad that channel 9 once spent their hour hyping a story. Then they showed a microbiologist claiming that coffee makes us fatter than pigs unless we add cream to the coffee. There wasn’t any explanation. Just try to set a good example for kids by eating a variety. Don’t analyze it so much.

  • Philip

    Using your mouth and voice box. Hand gestures can be helpful, too.

  • James

    As parents, we try to model good behavior and to serve decent meals. Fast food and pizza is a treat, not a staple.

    Our 3 kids range from skinny to “big boned.” It’s a fine line between fixating/creating bad body image and promoting good health. We’re hoping that the modeling works well over the long term and we tend to shy away from the pointed conversation.

    It has become obvious of late that many children are not as fortunate. There are lots of unused kitchens in this nation. Lots of parents that either cannot or will not cook, with kids growing up on pizza and McDonalds.

    I think schools have an active role to play here. Classic Home-Ec (for both girls and boys) with a focus on the basics of cooking and especially cooking healthy is probably required, as many kids are not getting the message at home.

  • Gary F

    It’s hard.

    First, you have to set a good example. They follow your habits. You prepare the food for them, you buy the food for them, they watch you eat, at home and socially. Signing up for Weight Watchers and losing weight is a great way to start the process. I did.

    Second, you have the battle of having a teenager. Eating and weight control are just another item on the long list of things that they have no concept of the risks or ramifications of their actions. So, if someone has an instruction manual on the mind of a 16 year old, I’d like to have one.

  • Timothy

    Start with Newton’s apple, move on to general relativity, quantum mechanics and then string theory. Top it off with Mr. X (Carl Sagan) and making an apple pie from scratch. Following in your foodstuffs and going a bit further, your children will be more mindful as they learn from you transubstantiation (transforming any food substance into the Body and the Blood of Jesus or Nirmanakaya the physical body of a Buddha etc…).

    May all beings be equally nourished :)