Parents blind to overweight children.

Parents blind to overweight children.

More than 50% of parents of overweight or obese children in Australia believe their child is of normal weight and continue to think so as their kids pile on more kilos, according to researches from the University of Melbourne. These parents have what is called ‘Goldilocks syndrome,’ a term given to those who are in denial about their overweight children.

Parents’ weight perceptions are extremely important for preventing childhood obesity, however if parents are assuming their kids’ weight is just right when in fact it is well above average, we could have a huge problem.

So what’s going on? Are parents confused about what a healthy weight looks like or are they simply in denial? There are certainly a combination of contributing factors:

Average weight has changed. 

In the 60s, only 5% of Aussie kids were overweight or obese, now that figure has climbed to 25%. We are all heavier, and as a result our visual perception of what we think average weight is has shifted too. Interesting to note, the study found parents and kids perceived themselves to be thinner, more active and healthier than they really were. Of course parents don’t want to see their children in a bad light nor be blamed for their child’s weight, so it is understandable that they may feel a sense of guilt and hence can be in denial about the truth.

Overweight parents contribute to the problem.

According to Better Health, parents whom are overweight may be less concerned about their child being overweight, as they may see themselves and their kid as ‘normal’. It is not as easy to tell if a child is overweight as they tend to put on the kilos around their belly, which happens to be concealed most of the time. Overweight parents most likely live sedentary lifestyles and eat unhealthy foods. They act as bad role models for their kids, whom don’t know any better and which makes it very difficult for them to recognise they are living unhealthily, are overweight and increasing their risks of diabetes, heart diseases, cancers and other debilitating illnesses later in life.

Weight measures can be confusing. 

Using body mass index (BMI) to assess weigh results are more likely to label children as overweight than using a waist measure. Not only does the study suggest parents struggle to determine what a healthy weight is, but that a lot more research is needed to determine how best to define children’s weight status and importantly, how best to communicate this to parents and children. However, inconsistent weight measures aren’t the only factor contributing to childhood obesity.

Parents believe their kids will grow out of it. 

Unfortunately, research shows they most likely won’t grow out of it. If a kid is overweight, there is a strong chance they will become overweight as an adult. Parents should not be fooled. Why take a gamble on your child’s life?

Parents aren’t sure how to tackle the problem.

In one of my previous posts ‘To Tell or Not to Tell‘, I talk about the best way of approaching the topic of weight with your child. Avoiding the conversation and telling them out right they are chubby could possibly do more harm than good. Rather, speak to them about healthy foods, involve them in the cooking process, ask them questions to get them curious about fresh foods, how to prepare and cook them. Asking them questions about how junk food as opposed to fresh foods make them feel? Above all, parents need to be supportive, show unconditional love and provide positive reinforcement all the way.

By Leah

Effects of ‘Food Pressure’ on Kids

Effects of ‘Food Pressure’ on Kids

Parents who put pressure on their kids to eat or who restrict their food intake can cause their kids to unhealthily gain weight.

The study published in the Journal of Paediatric Psychology found parents of overweight kids are more likely to restrict their child’s eating while parents with kids of normal weight are more likely to put pressure on them to eat more.

It showed that the way kids related to food and eating was crucial in determining whether they will have a healthy or unhealthy relationship with food in the future.

Parents may not realise but putting food pressure on their kids has unintended effects, contributing to their kid’s risk of becoming overweight or obese and as a result, increasing their likelihood of developing health problems such as heart disease or type 2 diabetes.

“Many parents may not be aware that their efforts to control their children’s eating harm their children’s ability to regulate their eating on their own,” says parenting specialist Laura Hubbs-Tait from Oklahoma State University.

Kids eating everything on their plates may have been the way our parents and grandparents grew up when food was scarce, however these days we are dealing with the opposite problem… too much food.

“Controlling kids to eat more or less means they stop relying on their own body’s signals and eat until their parents are happy,” the study says.

The study shows that BMI increases more in children where their food intake is controlled more by the sight and smell of food, and less by an inner experience of hunger.

Eating more with our eyes than out stomachs has made us lose a lot of contact with our food and our feelings of hunger.

To ensure kids develop normal eating patterns and maintain a healthy weight, parents should promote a healthy relationship with food, by allowing their kids to decide how much they want to eat. Kids are usually better at this than adults are.

Instead of forcing or restricting your kid’s food, what should parents do?

Parents should provide a variety of healthy food options for their kids like veggies and fruits, in their lunchboxes, at home and at the dinner table and allow the child to decide on their own when they are satisfied.

Those who are worried about their child’s food intake should talk to a physician.

Parents are their children’s number one role model and should be helping them learn how to regulate their own eating, helping them learn to make good food choices and provide lots of encouragement and support to ensure their child has a healthy food relationship.

By Leah

Put An End To Junk Food Cravings

Put An End To Junk Food Cravings

Junk food is one of the leading causes of childhood obesity and can increase your risk of developing diabetes, dementia, heart disease and respiratory problems in adulthood.

So how can we avoid these horrible health problems? By stopping what is making us want junk food so bad. Cravings.

What is it about nutrient-void, calorie high junk food that is so addicting we just can’t help but crave them?

Foods like chocolate and lollies that are high in sugar or hot chips and crisps that are high in salt and saturated fat are made to make you feel good. The reason being they increase your serotonin levels which gives you pleasure and makes you feel calm and relaxed in return.

Junk foods are also designed to trick your brain into thinking your body is receiving the right nutrients. They feed you just enough calories so your brain registers it is getting some energy but not too much so your brain doesn’t register you are full. The result is you end up craving these foods and usually tend to overeat.

While they may trick you into feeling good in the short-term, don’t be fooled. Junk food is highly processed and contains large amounts of carbohydrates, added sugar, unhealthy fats, and salt offering little to no nutritional value to your body. They feed your body things it isn’t made to digest and leads to one putting on weight, increasing their chances of becoming obese.

In the long-term junk food has detrimental affects on your body and brain. Chocolate and greasy fast foods are your skin’s worst nightmare contributing to acne and skin irritations. Sugary foods like cookies, ice cream, juices, doughnuts and lollies are detrimental to your teeth, strenuous on your organs, can contribute to depression and affect your memory and your brain’s ability to learn.

So, how can you kick these junk food cravings?

Well thankfully, the less junk food you eat, the less you crave it. So, help curb those cravings today by getting to know the right healthy food alternative for your body. Here is a list of the popular foods people crave, and their healthy substitutes:

food cravings

By Leah

To Tell Or Not To Tell

To Tell Or Not To Tell

Telling your child they are fat or chubby is one thing you should never do. Why? Because most likely they already know and although you may have good intentions, it can prove to be more harmful than you think.

Sydney based Dietician Lyndi Polivnick from The Nude Nutritionist says the conversation about your child’s weight issue can make them more self-conscious and insecure.

So how can you raise the conversation without telling them the obvious?

Start by structuring the conversation around health instead of weight, says Polivnick, speak to them about healthy foods like fruit and vegetables.

Set by example and encourage them to cook with you, help chop the veggies and learn more about their health benefits, how tasty they can be in fresh home cooked meals and their versatility. Get them asking questions about these foods, learning and gaining cooking skills and healthy food knowledge.

Not only should you child be curious, so should you. “Ask your child ‘How does junk food make you feel?’ and ‘How does healthy food make you feel?’ The intrinsic motivation to feel strong, healthy and/or happy is far more effective in long-term weight management then humiliation and punishment,” says Polivnick

As parents, you are your child’s number one role models. If you don’t have a healthy relationship with food, then most likely your child will adopt these practices and carry them into adulthood with them.
“Overweight children are almost guaranteed to be overweight parents, who are likely to go on to have overweight children themselves. We need to break the cycle by giving children practical skills around healthy eating and teaching them how to cook healthy food for themselves,” says Polivnick.

What a child needs is unconditional love from their number one support group, their parents, and their home should be a place where they feel safe, loved and valued no matter what they look like.

“Fear-mongering and unhelpful comments about their appearance and weight are not the answer,” says Polivnick, “The aim is get children eating healthily naturally, without having the diet or stress about their weight.”

So, get that conversation started today. Get the fresh food talk going and those cooking skills brewing so your kids can take their first steps in the right direction towards their healthy future.

By Leah