Kids on a Diet, and How Parents Can Help

Topics: Wellness and Health

Putting kids on a diet is verboten in medical circles.

Expert psychologists and physicians explain that kids can’t handle the destruction of self-esteem that being on a diet carries with it.

Being overweight or obese is hard enough for the 6-11 year old, the argument goes. And as an adolescent…well, forget it. The teasing and ostracizing are unbearable.

But pediatric obesity is an epidemic. 19 percent of children 6 to 11 years old in America are obese.

And most parents don’t see it, even in their own family. One study showed that only 27 percent of overweight kids were identified as such by their parents.

Parents are caught. They never hear the word “Diet” from their pediatrician or family physician, but they do hear it everywhere else. They know diets work for a short while, and lifestyle skills work long term.

Supposedly, parents provide (the food), kids decide (how much and when to eat). That division can work with younger kids, with real structure, strong parents, and clear meal plans. But without those tools, parents are lost.

My idea is that Chef Clinic–cooking, healthy eating and fitness lessons–for the parents of overweight and obese kids could help. For the tools. And for changing kids’ food environment at home. And for being clear that the family is on a diet. Irrespective of whether the parent needs it.

What do you think? Should overweight kids be put on a diet? Would giving their parents new skills help?