Parental talk about healthy eating, not dieting or weight, is best for kids

Rising obesity rates among children have educators and parents questioning how to effectively talk to kids about healthy eating habits.

And a new study from the University of Minnesota reveals that focusing on topics that have to do with promoting healthy behaviors – rather than focusing on weight or dieting – corresponds to fewer eating disorders and lower obesity rates in children.

It's not what you say but how you say it

Researchers examined data from two different surveys, studying 2,793 public school students in total. They discovered that children with moms who discussed weight were more likely to diet – and they also had higher rates of eating disorders, like anorexia or binge eating. A higher percentage of these kids were also more likely to engage in unhealthy behaviors than children whose mothers focused more on discussing healthy eating – 5.9 percent compared to 1.6 percent, respectively.

Among adolescents, 35.3 percent whose mothers focused on weight were on a diet compared to 22.6 percent of kids with mothers who emphasized healthy eating.

And it's not just a mother's influence that carries weight – the same correlation was found between the way dads talk to their kids and how they behave in regard to food.

"It's important to [have] conversations that focus on healthy eating as a cause for healthy bodies and strong bones, rather than a cause for weight and size," study author Jerica Berge said in a statement.

Berge emphasizes that conversations with kids about weight shouldn't be initiated unless the child wants to talk about it, as the results could do more harm than good. A better approach is to have conversations that revolve around healthy eating, while not blaming or shaming the child.

Results of the study can be found in JAMA Pediatrics.

Source: Fox News

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