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Helping Your 'Not-Thin' Kids

What parents should (and shouldn't) do

What Parents Shouldn't Do:

  • Don't resort to "diets" -- they don't even work for adults. "Only 5%-10% of dieting adults maintain their significant weight loss over time," says obesity researcher John Foreyt, PhD, from the Baylor College of Medicine.
  • Avoid labeling the child as "too fat," says Satter. If a child is overweight, don't focus on the child, but work on moving the whole family toward a healthier lifestyle.
  • Don't comment on people's weight and/or bodies -- strangers', friends', your own, and especially your child's, urges Mickley. Stress to your children that a person's worth comes from his or her character, personality, and good works -- not appearance.
  • Don't use food as a bribe, reward, or punishment. This encourages children to think of food as something other than nourishment.
  • Don't serve large portions to the whole family. The bigger the serving, the more children and adults will tend to eat, according to a Cornell University study by researcher David Levitsky, PhD.
  • Avoid the two eating rules that make children fail. According to Satter, these are "don't eat junk food" and "don't eat so much." She points out that children tend to eat junk foods in moderation when these foods are available regularly at home; and that restricting food intake may make children preoccupied with food and prone to overeat when they get the chance.

Reviewed on January 20, 2006

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