Should you tell your child they’re fat?

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Posted by: Sue Atkins

 

Childhood Obesity

Childhood Obesity

I was just on BBC Radio Leeds discussing this question, ‘Should you tell your child they’re fat?’ as it’s the start of National Childhood Obesity Week and nearly a quarter of British children are overweight by the age of three !

The real message behind the rather dramatic and unhelpful question on BBC Leeds was to raise awareness of the dangers of being above a healthy weight during childhood.

This year MEND – Mind, Exercise, Nutrition… Do it!  whose vision is a world where we all live fitter, healthier and happier lives worked with Netmums to publish the findings of their  ‘Let’s talk about weight’ survey which showed parents’ experiences of bringing up the topic of weight with their child and the challenges they face. Worldwide, childhood obesity rates have doubled since the 1970s, with some 200 million children overweight. 

British children are among the fattest in Europe, with nearly a quarter already overweight by the age of three and more than one in five too heavy by the time they start school.

However, I believe it’s unhelpful to use the word ‘fat’ as it is so heavily laden with judgement and criticism but I also think as parents we need to ‘talk and teach’ our kids about eating healthily.
  • Keeping a food diary helps focus everyone on those little incidental cans of coke, bag of crisps and unhealthy 2 chocolate croissants at breakfast that can so invidiously sneak in to our daily diets without us noticing.
  • How about making some small changes that over time build up to make big differences ?
  • How about walking to school, riding a bike in the park, bouncing on the trampoline after school, taking up netball, tennis, or an active hobby ?
  • How about cooking without oil, getting the kids involved in planning and shopping for this week’s menu – not just grabbing the first thing in the fridge after a hard day, stocking the fridge with summer fruits to pick on instead of crisps, sweets and donuts?
Keep it simple.
  • Model the healthier options yourself and keep it all in balance. Don’t focus on a person’s weight, focus on what talents, skills, attributes they have.
  • Notice what language you use to speak about people’s bodies, and your own.
Your kids are learning, listening and watching you all the time.
Take this opportunity Pause To Ponder your diet, your lifestyle and how you model healthy living – and if you don’t like what you discover – don’t beat yourself up. Just make some small changes this week that will build into new habits over time.
It’s important !
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