Handling Childhood Obesity: What Moms Need To Know And Never Do

Reviewed by James Brann, M.D.

What You Need To Know
  • All the nagging in the world won't change your child's eating habits. In fact, nagging will only make the situation worse for the entire family. Food becomes a weapon.

  • If you believe your child or teen-ager needs to be told he or she is overweight, you're wrong. Your children know well and it's become a part of their body images.

  • Your overweight child is teased by the other kids.

  • Your child faces temptation to eat high calorie foods all day, every day. Just watch an hour of Saturday morning TV to see what your child is up against.

  • There is no blame to be assigned to an obesity problem.

  • Obesity doesn't indicate a character flaw or a lack of self-discipline.

  • As the parent, you're in the best position to support your child in a very real way. Buy healthier foods. prepare healthier foods and serve smaller portions.

  • Childhood obesity is usually a family problem. If one or more family members are overweight, chances are the family's diet needs some revamping.
What You Should Never Do

  • Unless you suspect an underlying medical problem, don't take your child to the doctor to discuss weight issues. In the child's mind, this equates obesity with an illness.

  • Never express disappointment if your child falls short of his or her goals. Always be supportive, always be positive.

  • Never send your child to fat camp. You might as well shine a spotlight on the problem.

  • Never put your child "on a diet". It's a prescription for failure.

  • Never discuss your child's weight in front of her, in front of other family members or friends. Sensitivity to the problem must start with you.

  • Don't use cute nicknames like 'Pudge', 'Buttercup' or 'Pork Chop' How embarrassing is that?

  • Don't allow food to become a point of contention. Arguing about food is like arguing about air. Your child's eating habits are ingrained early. The only way to change them is through a gradual transition, with no hoopla or fanfare.

  • Never compare your child to other children, or worse, to the celebrities you see on TV.

  • Never become part of the problem. Be a resource and an ally. Show sympathy, but recognize that you're limited in what you can do to help with low self-esteem.

  • Encourage your child to take up hobbies that involve physical activity.