Childhood obesity: Having "The Talk" with kids can head off trouble
Childhood obesity, studies show, is perhaps harder for parents to have "The Talk" about with their kids than it is to have "The Talk" about sex and drugs. But it does work, if parents walk their talk.
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She was concerned about her daughter’s weight. Still, she didn’t want to hurt Ramsey’s self-esteem or say anything that could spark issues of negative body image.
So Ms. Smith decided to frame the conversation around being healthy — and not about weight.
“I talked about being healthy and about making changes we could do as a family,” Smith said. “I told her I want her to live a long, happy, healthy life.” Since that conversation about two years ago, Smith and her daughter, now 13, have adopted a healthy lifestyle overhaul.
They started with drinking water instead of soda and eating more fruits and vegetables. They now often break out into 15-minute-long dance sessions at home, and they are planning to soon run together in a 5K. Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta wants to help more of these talks – and transformations – take place.
Today, the hospital launches a new Strong4Life website providing parents with tools and tips for having “The Talk.” The website’s offerings include a database of doctors specially trained to counsel families struggling with weight issues, healthy recipes and an online health assessment. It’s part of Children’s far-reaching efforts to fight obesity. The hospital has a Health4Life Clinic for overweight children. It also runs a special summer camp for overweight children and trains pediatricians on how to discuss the often-sensitive subject of weight.
“We really want parents to start with themselves and for them to have a healthy conversation with themselves about family ... and the kind of role models they want to be ... and then talk to their kids,” said Stephanie Walsh, the medical director of child wellness at Children’s.
This latest push to fight obesity comes about a year after Children’s controversial ad campaign featuring black-and-white photos of obese children on billboards with messages such as: “Being fat takes the fun out of being a kid” and “It’s hard to be a little girl if you’re not.” Walsh said the campaign was designed to help people realize – albeit in dramatic fashion – that childhood obesity is a crisis.