More than a third of parents don’t speak to their children about their weight, in fear that it may trigger them to develop an eating disorder, according to new research.
They believe that speaking to their children about this may lower their self-esteem.
Two in five parents have tried to do so, but almost hald of those who had an overweight or obese child said it was an ‘unhelpful experience’ for the family.
Those who have already idenitified their child as being overweight also struggle to talk to their children about their weight, this figure rose to 60 per cent, a health group warns that by avoiding the problem families are contributing to an increasingly obese society.
The survey was conducted by the social enterprise Mend (Mind,Exercise, Nutrition… Do it!) and the online community Netmums for national childhood obesity week. More than 1,000 parents with a child aged 5-16 responded to the survey on Netmums about how they felt bringing up the topic of weight with their child.
A third of all parents identified their children’s weight by looking at them or comparing them with others their age, rather than measuring it or getting it confirmed by a doctor.
Paul Sacher, co-founder and chief research and development officer at MEND said in a statement: “With obesity reaching epidemic proportions and becoming the ‘norm’, it can be very difficult for parents to tell if their child is a healthy weight or not simply by looking at them.” He suggests using an online BMI calculator. Make sure you use one designed for children’s measurements.
Three-quarters of parents said they often talked to their children about what they eat, such as telling them to eat less junk food and eat more fruit and vegetables.
The Netmums founder Siobhan Freegard said: “Tackling the issue of children’s weight is a growing problem and it’s concerning a third of parents are avoiding the issue for fear of lowering their child’s self-esteem. Every parent wants the best for their child and although initially it may be a tough conversation to have, the family talking together and working together to find healthier ways of eating will lead to happier and healthier children.”