When talking to kids about weight, choose your words carefully

What's the best way to talk to an overweight child about his or her weight problem without triggering low self-esteem? New research advises steering clear of words such as "chubby," "heavy" and "obese" while opting for a neutral phase: "unhealthy weight."

A new study published online September 26 in the journal Pediatrics surveyed 445 parents about their feelings on ten words or phrases doctors might use to talk to them about their child's weight. "Obese" and "fat" rated low on the scale while "unhealthy weight" seemed to assign less blame.

Other better choices include phrases such as "high BMI," "weight problem" and "overweight."

"I think [we need to be] really sensitive to the fact that for many parents and children who are overweight, they have experienced weight stigma, they are sensitive to the language used," Dr. Dianne Neumark-Sztainer, a professor of epidemiology and community health at the University of Minnesota in the US, said in an interview with health website MyHealthNewsDaily.com. "We really want them to feel comfortable in the heath care provider's office so they will return and they will be open to getting advice."

While childhood obesity looms large, so do stigmas against kids who struggle with their weight. A recent Australian study found that obesity increases the risk that young children will become socially isolated by their grade-school years.

If your child is overweight or obese, it's important to get involved, said American child psychiatrist Paul Ballas in an interview with health website WebMD. Aim to help your child by encouraging physical activity, serving nutritious meals, and seeking out community activities where your child can bond with his or her peers and gain social support.

While physical activity is crucial, competitive sports may leave your overweight child feeling stigmatized and with a sense of failure, added Ballas. Rather focus on other interests, such as music and academics. "Those are things that can be encouraged that may provide positive social benefits that they may not be able to get from sports," he said.

 

Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookA delicious collection of 50 meaty main courses
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - OTE £30,000+

    £16000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They are looking for individual...

    Recruitment Genius: IT Project Coordinator / Manager

    £25000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Project Coordinator is requir...

    Recruitment Genius: Mortgage Advisor - OTE £95,000

    £40000 - £95000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

    Recruitment Genius: Trainee Vehicle Inspectors / Purchasers

    £20000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Trainee Vehicle Inspectors / Pu...

    Day In a Page

    Greece debt crisis: EU 'family' needs to forgive rather than punish an impoverished state

    EU 'family' needs to forgive rather than punish an impoverished state

    An outbreak of malaria in Greece four years ago helps us understand the crisis, says Robert Fisk
    Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge: The traumatised kibbutz on Israel's front line, still recovering from last summer's war with Hamas

    Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge

    The traumatised kibbutz on Israel's front line, still recovering from last summer's war with Hamas
    How to survive electrical storms: What are the chances of being hit by lightning?

    Heavy weather

    What are the chances of being hit by lightning?
    World Bodypainting Festival 2015: Bizarre and brilliant photos celebrate 'the body as art'

    World Bodypainting Festival 2015

    Bizarre and brilliant photos celebrate 'the body as art'
    alt-j: A private jet, a Mercury Prize and Latitude headliners

    Don't call us nerds

    Craig Mclean meets alt-j - the math-folk act who are flying high
    How to find gold: The Californian badlands, digging out crevasses and sifting sludge

    How to find gold

    Steve Boggan finds himself in the Californian badlands, digging out crevasses and sifting sludge
    Singing accents: From Herman's Hermits and David Bowie to Alesha Dixon

    Not born in the USA

    Lay off Alesha Dixon: songs sound better in US accents, even our national anthem
    10 best balsamic vinegars

    10 best balsamic vinegars

    Drizzle it over salad, enjoy it with ciabatta, marinate vegetables, or use it to add depth to a sauce - this versatile staple is a cook's best friend
    Wimbledon 2015: Brief glimpses of the old Venus but Williams sisters' epic wars belong to history

    Brief glimpses of the old Venus but Williams sisters' epic wars belong to history

    Serena dispatched her elder sister 6-4, 6-3 in eight minutes more than an hour
    Greece says 'No': A night of huge celebrations in Athens as voters decisively back Tsipras and his anti-austerity stance in historic referendum

    Greece referendum

    Greeks say 'No' to austerity and plunge Europe into crisis
    Ten years after the 7/7 terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?

    7/7 bombings anniversary

    Ten years after the terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?
    Beautiful evening dresses are some of the loveliest Donatella has created

    Versace haute couture review

    Beautiful evening dresses are some of the loveliest Donatella has ever created
    No hope and no jobs, so Gaza's young risk their lives, climb the fence and run for it

    No hope and no jobs in Gaza

    So the young risk their lives and run for it
    Fashion apps: Retailers roll together shopping and social networking for mobile customers

    Fashion apps

    Retailers roll together shopping and social networking for mobile customers
    The Greek referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its distinct lack of any genuine popular legitimacy

    Gaping hole at the heart of the European Union

    Treatment of Greece has shown up a lack of genuine legitimacy