Body & Fitness

The fat trap

Obesity is a very real problem among Kiwi kids. Here are some tips to avoid the fat trap.

Obesity is a very real problem among Kiwi kids, with one-third of children here either overweight or obese.

If you’re worried about your child, you need to do something about it sooner rather than later. Not getting on top of weight gain can lead to lifelong health risks, such as high blood pressure and diabetes.

But talking to them about their weight can be tricky. While you want to make sure they understand how important it is to be a healthy weight, the last thing you want to do is trigger body image issues or hang-ups about eating.

Here are some points to remember when it comes to having “the talk”.

Don’t make a big deal out of it: Rather than sitting them down for a serious talk, have ongoing conversations at appropriate times – ie when you are preparing meals or eating – about making healthy choices.

Don’t lecture: It’s a surefire way of making them rebel.

Avoid talking about weight or dieting: Instead chat about how foods affect our health, and the sort of things we should be eating and avoiding.

Don’t describe certain foods as bad: Talk about the sorts of food that should be limited because they are less healthy.

Explain the consequences of unhealthy food choices and the illnesses those choices could make them more susceptible to: Without freaking them out too much, tell them about conditions such as type 2 diabetes, but don’t go into graphic detail about possible complications.

Do come up with easy ways for them to make changes to their diet: Suggest they swap the biscuits they eat after school for fruit or vegetables with a dip, such as hummus.

Talk to them about options for when they are not at home: For example, if they’re out with their mates and at a food court, they are better off having sushi or a salad-filled kebab than pizza or a burger and fries. If they’ve discussed it with you beforehand, they’ll find it easier to make the right choice when you are not there.

Don’t talk about unrealistic goals: Teenage girls, in particular, can set themselves weight-loss goals that are totally inappropriate.

Make sure they know that losing weight and keeping it off is a lifelong commitment: Remind them that being healthy isn’t something they do for a short period of time before returning to their former bad habits.

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