Obesity Gets an Early Start
We all know the drill: Buy healthful foods; offer sensible portions; don't make kids lick their plates clean or push second helpings. Offer the occasional indulgences of yummy desserts, but don't make them staples or forbidden fruit. Keep children active and moving-family jaunts, school sports, and household chores all count. And obese adolescents, who are apt to suffer emotionally from isolation or cruel treatment by unkind classmates, need special support. Already touchy about their changing bodies, they need sensitive, positive messages that acknowledge that there's no one perfect body type but that also encourage a long-term tailored plan for diet and exercise. Parents are right to worry that addressing their child's weight might promote a search for a quick fix or even an eating disorder, but silence is more risky if one considers the long-term threats of obesity, such as diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and cancer.
The biggest risk factor for obesity in the young is still parental overweight. So, set an example for your children with your own healthful diet and exercise behavior. Until bariatricians, the weight-loss medical specialists, can deliver some magic pill to melt fat away without any side effects, we have no other choice if we want to be well for each other.