Telling your overweight child to diet may backfire, according to a new study from the University of Minnesota.
Professor Dianne Neumark-Sztainer wanted to find out if sending parents "obesity report cards" from school did any good in helping overweight children win the battle of the bulge. Such reports are required by law in certain states.
Prof. Neumark-Sztainer used data on 300 overweight middle and high school students that had been collected by Project EAT. Sixty percent of the boys' parents and 46 percent of the girls' parents wrongly believed that their children were at their ideal weight. Of the rest of the parents who knew their children were overweight, 60 percent encouraged dieting.
Five years later Prof. Neumark-Sztainer reassessed the children. The ones who were encouraged to diet were more likely to still be overweight. The figures were 75 percent of boys whose parents encouraged dieting compared to 52 percent whose parents ignored the issue. Among girls, the figures were 66 percent compared to 44 percent.
Prof. Neumark-Sztainer believes the important thing for parents to do is to set a good example of healthy eating and appropriate exercise. She also indicated that "school obesity report cards" might be counterproductive.
Her study appears in Pediatrics.
Labels: diet, advice, parents
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