Sunday, July 7, 2013

Teens and Body Image: Reasons Not to Put Your Children On a Diet Without Doctor's Orders

 Childhood obesity is endemic in the United States, so much so that the Unites States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that up to 18% of American kids between the ages of six and 11 are obese. These kids are more likely to suffer from pre-diabetes, and are at a higher risk for cardiovascular disease and high blood pressure. In an effort to capitalize on this health crisis, many companies and for-profit entities are advertising diets for kids, ostensibly to slim kids down while lining their own pockets. Before you buy into the hype, these are seven of the reasons why you should never put your child on a diet that hasn’t been ordered by his pediatrician.
  • Growing Bodies Have Very Real Nutritional Needs – The body of a growing child requires a specific balance of nutrients, fats and calories in order to develop normally. Those needs are very different from those of an adult, and putting your child on a regimented diet that isn’t prescribed and supervised by your child’s doctor can actually deprive her of the things she needs most. The low-carb, high-protein diet that helped you lose weight simply isn’t appropriate for a child’s needs, and can cause more harm than help.
  • Hunger Leads to Desperation – When you’re on a strict diet, you understand that the hunger pangs are something that you’re managing in order to achieve a desired outcome. Your child, on the other hand, only knows that she’s hungry and that food is being withheld from her. The desperation to fulfill that hunger can easily lead to problems when you’re not watching, up to and including gorging when she’s not being supervised.
  • Emotional Eating isn’t Curbed by a Rigid Diet – Just like their adult counterparts, kids that learn to view food as a source of comfort will turn to it in times of stress. When you’re forcing her to adhere to a harshly restrictive diet, you’re only causing your child to feel the stress that makes her want to eat. You’re not treating the root of the problem, only the symptom.
  • Diets Encourage Deprivation, Rather Than Promoting Physical Activity – Kids need plenty of fuel for their growing bodies, but they also need plenty of physically intensive, active play to stay healthy. When you put your child on a diet, you’re placing the emphasis on what she eats, rather than the lifestyle she keeps. Encourage healthy activity and provide ample access to nutritionally sound, healthy snacks, rather than taking an approach that espouses minimal activity and maximum deprivation.
  • Diets Condition Kids to Look for the Quick Fix – A crash diet works in the short term, but is typically accustomed to a return to the poor habits that led to the weight gain in the first place. Teaching kids to diet in order to lose weight temporarily not only complicates their relationship with food and potentially causes a host of other problems, but also sends the message that the quick fix is the solution to their problems, rather than concentrated and sustained efforts to make better choices all of the time.
  • Putting Kids on a Diet Can Damage Fragile Self Esteem – Even young children know, thanks to social conditioning, that “diets are for fat people.” Putting your child on a diet and, even worse, using the term “diet” is effectively telling your child that she’s fat and needs to change because the person she is right now isn’t appealing to you. The renowned Mayo Clinic suggest placing an emphasis on health when discussing food and dietary choices with your child, rather than weight.
  • Dieting Creates a Complex Relationship With Food – Kids need to see food as fuel for their active bodies, not an enemy to avoid or a friend to turn to when they’re upset. Complicating your child’s relationship with food can lead to very real problems with eating disorders as she gets older, which will only damage her health further and make her adult life more stressful than it should be.
If you have concerns about your child’s weight, discuss the matter with her pediatrician and work together to find a solution that’s both nutritionally sound and unlikely to be emotionally damaging to your child. Remember that the lessons you instill in her as a child will shape the adult she becomes, and act accordingly to avoid causing lifelong problems with food and overeating.

Source:  Nanny Sites