By Betty Murray
A focus on the word “fat” may actually lead to obesity, especially in young girls.
In a long-term study, psychology researchers at UCLA found that young girls who were labeled as “fat” by 10 years of age were more likely to become obese as a teenager.
The study, which was published in late April, measured the heights and weights of more than 2,300 girls at age 10 and again when they were 19. Fifty-eight percent of the girls said they had been told they were too fat by the time they were 10 years old; by the time these girls reached age 19, they were 1.66 times more likely to be obese.
Based on the outcome of this study, parents and caregivers should focus less on warning kids that they are becoming too “fat” and focus instead on setting a positive example of a healthy lifestyle. After all, a majority about what kids learn about nutrition and exercise is learned at home and only supplemented by educational and extracurricular programs.
Teaching kids to be healthy
Teaching your kids to be healthy is a two-fold process. First, teach them the foods they should eat to maintain proper nutrition. Instill healthy eating habits in your kids by teaching them to make healthy choices and guide those choices by making healthy foods easily accessible to your kids, and not keeping junk food and other unhealthy foods around the house. Additionally, take your children to the grocery store with you, teaching them to shop for healthy foods.
Train your children to live an active life by encouraging them to participate in school or community sports clubs. Make a habit of taking the family to the gym a few times each week. Go on bike rides, hikes or walks around the neighborhood as a family. If your children observe you sitting in front of the TV all evening, they are likely to pick up those same habits.
Making family dinners a priority can also have a positive impact on your child’s overall health. Though they may not realize it, the simple act of conversation during dinner enforces eating slowly, rather than racing through dinner. When we eat fast, we are more likely to eat more as it takes time for the body to digest food. Drinking water with dinner is another way to encourage your kids to eat smaller portions, as water helps us feel more full. Additionally, family dinners are an important time to give your child undivided attention and build relationships within the family.
If you notice your children gaining weight, rather than focusing on the weight gain, set a positive example of healthy eating and the importance of exercise.
Betty Murray, CN, HHC, RYT is a Certified Nutritionist & Holistic Health Counselor, founder of the Dallas-based integrative medical center, Wellness and founder of the Metabolic Blueprint wellness program. Betty’s nutrition counseling practice specializes in metabolic and digestive disorders and weight loss resistance. A master of the biochemistry of the body, Betty teaches her clients how to utilize nutritional interventions to improve their health. Betty is a member of the Institute of Functional Medicine and the National Association of Nutrition Professionals.