Would You Put an Overweight Child on a Diet?

JupiterimagesJupiterimagesMany a Lifetime movie has been made about the overbearing mom who tries to get her daughter to lose weight and ends up driving her to developing an eating disorder. With childhood obesity tripling the past 30 years according to the CDC, it's an issue many parents are grappling with right now. How do you tackle such a sensitive subject with your child without hurting his or her self-esteem?

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Earlier this week, we asked you to weigh in (pun intended) on a very touchy topic-putting an overweight child on a diet. While some moms saw nothing wrong with having their kids get more active and scale back on less-than-healthy-treats, others were adamant about not making their children body-conscious and taking the risk of them developing an unhealthy relationship with food in their later years. 34 percent of moms voted in favor of a structured diet for their children if necessary, as opposed to 53 percent of moms who offered non-diet alternatives to getting their kids healthy such as getting them to play outside more and serving the whole family healthier food.

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In support of the kid diet, REDBOOK Facebook fan Poetry Queen writes, "If it was very necessary, I would. Anything for the health of my child!" Facebook fan Melanie comes from the same school of thought, exclaiming "I totally, completely, 100% agree!!!"

But does a "diet" run the risk of your child developing an unhealthy relationship with food and take a toll on their body image? REDBOOK Facebook fan Julie thinks so. She warns, "My mother had me on diets from age 9. I've been fighting eating disorders since." Another fan, Alena, supports Julie's testimony, adding, "I would not unless they were severely obese! My parents did that to me as a child and started a cycle of yo-yo dieting from then on!" There's a legitimate worry that singling out a child and putting her on a diet could manifest feelings of self-doubt and low self-esteem.

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In order to avoid these negative effects, REDBOOK Facebook fan Julie offers a collaborative solution. She says, "If I had an overweight or obese child, the entire family would not diet, but makeover our habits. Parents need to lead by example!" And Redbookmag.com reader Rakisha advises, "What has to happen is a gradual lifestyle change adapted by the whole family. The child didn't get overweight by herself. Don't say anything; just throw out all the junky and processed foods. Buy a Wii and start a family video game night!"

Julie and Rakisha's ideas sound like win-wins to us-they get the whole family moving and eliminate the possibility of an unhealthy reaction from your child.


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