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Talk to Children About Eating Habits Not Weight

Update Date: Jun 25, 2013 09:59 AM EDT

Losing weight can be a difficult and very sensitive journey for a lot of people. Studies have shown that even doctors do not like to discuss weight loss goals with their patients. On top of that, another study found that obese patients tend to shop around for doctors more often, having difficulty finding one they like. Even though weight is a very personal subject, it needs to be addressed in one way or another in order to fight against the obesity pandemic. In a new study, researchers suggest that discussing healthier eating habits as opposed to weight loss could lead to more healthy weight loss goals.

The study, conducted by researchers from the University of Minnesota, reviewed data from a large sample of teenagers and their parents. The researchers discovered that parents who took the weight loss conversation route ended up with teenagers who developed eating disorders, extreme dieting and other unhealthy methods. Parents who spoke to their children about eating habits were more likely to influence their children into eating healthier, which can then result in healthy weight loss.

The research team found that around 60 percent of parents discussed weight with their overweight or obese teenagers. 64 percent of children who were a part of a discussion centered around weight ended up turning to unhealthy eating methods as opposed to the 40 percent of children who had a discussion about healthy eating. The researchers found that when fathers were involved in the conversation, especially if it is focused on weight loss, they can negatively affect the teenagers more so than mothers. The researchers believe that when parents discuss health and weight loss, their study shows that talking about eating better for the body is more effective than talking about losing weight.

"Frame it in a way that gets them excited," commented Laura Williams, who is an exercise specialist and founder of and was not a part of the study. "Want to climb the highest peak in the state? Then we need to start training and eat the right fuel - more fruits and vegetables, lean proteins and whole grains."

The study was published in JAMA Pediatrics.

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