Conversations About Healthy Eating Could Be Counterproductive

Lee Rannals for – Your Universe Online

A new study published by JAMA Pediatrics found that having conversations with your teenager about weight increases the chances of them having unhealthy eating behaviors.

Researchers from University of Minnesota, Minneapolis discovered that overweight or obese adolescents whose mothers engaged in conversations about healthful eating behaviors were less likely to diet and use unhealthy weight-control behaviors.

“Because adolescence is a time when more youths engage in disordered eating behaviors, it is important for parents to understand what types of conversations may be helpful or harmful in regard to disordered eating behaviors and how to have these conversations with their adolescents,” Jerica M. Berge, Ph.D., M.P.H., L.M.F.T., of the University of Minnesota Medical School, and colleagues write in the study background.

The researchers used data from two population-based studies, as well as included surveys that were completed by adolescents and parents. The final sample the team used consisted of 2,348 adolescents and 3,528 parents.

Overweight adolescents whose mothers engaged in healthful eating conversations compared with those whose mothers did not engage in healthful eating conversations were 13 percent less likely to be dieting. Obese children who had conversations with their parents were also 13 percent more likely to engage in unhealthy weight-control behaviors, according to the study.

The researchers saw that weight conversations from one parent or from both were associated with a significantly higher prevalence of dieting relative to parents who engaged in only healthful eating conversations. They also found that adolescents whose fathers engaged in weight conversations were significantly more likely to engage in dieting and unhealthy weight-control behaviors than adolescents whose fathers did not.

“Finally, for parents who may wonder whether talking with their adolescent child about eating habits and weight is useful or detrimental, results from this study indicate that they may want to focus on discussing and promoting healthful eating behaviors rather than discussing weight and size, regardless of whether their child is nonoverweight or overweight,” the authors conclude.

Childhood obesity is becoming a growing problem in many nations. A study released two weeks ago found that the number of children admitted to a hospital for problems related to obesity in England quadrupled between 2000 and 2009. This survey found that nearly three-quarters of these admissions were to deal with problems complicated by obesity, such as asthma, breathing difficulties during sleep, and complications of pregnancy.

National surveys in England found that around 30 percent of children aged two to 15 are overweight and 14 to 20 percent are obese.

Obesity has also been linked to a higher chance in having hearing loss problems. A study published in The Laryngoscope found that obese adolescents have increased hearing loss across all frequencies, but were nearly twice as likely to have unilateral low-frequency hearing loss.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *