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Originally Posted by Linda on the move View Post

I think that the advice to not have a conversation is misguided. Obesity is an growing concern -- 18% of teens are obese, and 30% are overweight. The stats just get higher with age, and they increase every year. I think while the potential for this conversation to go terribly wrong is huge, that we as mothers have an obligation to figure out how to talk to our children. All of our children are at risk for becoming obese because the rates just keep going up and up (if the rates of obesity continue to increase they way they currently are, all Americans will be overweight by 2048) http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2008/08/28/will-all-americans-be-fat-in-40-years.aspx
this is where i disagree with ya :) sorta

our children are getting bombarded with weight all around us. as parents we dont need to add any of that. there are tooo many children in my dd's 5th grade class who are fixated on weight (without their parents talking about it). in fact i even ran across a first grader who felt that way. however she wants to be a film actress, is a performer so because of her interest i guess the obesity concern is worse.

i wonder if we did a poll how many children on our board is obese. i dont think we should see all families with the same lens. obesity is a problem with some families - not all. though in my books, being obese and fat are two different things. i think these days obese and fat are becoming synonymous which is not right.

obviously the government doesnt care. if they did at least they would have some afterschool sports programs available for free. the corporations dont care. look at the junk in the guise of food.

i think 80% of our problem can be solved by food. by food i mean the amount of sugar, fat and salt in our system. the 3 biggest items in processed food. if we havent got our children's attention by the teens its already late. not too late, but late and its HARD for anyone to change their food habits.

if your child is brought up with the right nutrition. the concept of nutrition, of balanced diet and then add taste to it then by the teens they are able to do that on their own. not something parent guided but child directed.

and honestly one thing that frustrates me is the notion children are inactive. children are NEVER inactive unless their lifestyle forces them to be and then it becomes a habit. all a child needs is another good friend in the neighborhood and a parent to supervise and gosh they are active all over. but they DO need a friend. that is the key. so if you dont have that you sign them up for an activity. not as a teen, but as a child so that by teens for your child activity is a habit. however if you are poor and or working all the time then you are pretty much screwed. i hate this idea that because u have a backyard, add a few toys and let ur child loose there and they should have a grand time. no that is wrong. they are BORED by themselves (mostly not all kids). instead let them free there with a good friend and THEN they'll have a ball.

at this point of time with OPs child one has to be supersensitive. she is at a very sensitive age. perhaps instead of talking she should focus on doing. together as a family. keep an eye on is the child down, depressed? is she already aware of her belly and feels horrible. if the mom doesnt brign up the conversation sensitively - a no mean task to achieve - she can make things worse.

dd and i have talks on weight and food. not because its the teens, but its something we have always talked about. it is just as much as our conversation as talking about the latest movie we saw.

dd just started middle school. i see what a huge impact it has on her life.

i understand where you are coming from Linda. i get what you are trying to say. recently dd went through allergies which restricted her diet. it had such a HUGE social and thus psychological impact on dd. THAT made me aware of how important it is HOW we talk to our children. and thus i feel instead of talking first ACT. make the changes. dont bring crap in teh house (that is non food packaged in the form of food) and as a family get active if you are not.

i think if you begin with talking - its pointing a finger at the child and saying she is wrong. irresponsible. doesnt know anything. not the right way to start. you gotta first break the habit and then talk.
 

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Originally Posted by Sphinxy View Post

All the recent studies are showing that our "war on obesity" completely misses the mark, and is just fueling the food manufacturers sales of crappy empty calorie diet foods and the drug manufacturers sales of diet pills and "supplements".

I agree with you completely.

It should be a war (though I hate that term) on inactivity and crappy choices. BUT being active and making better food choices is not always going to make you skinny, nor should it. People come in all shapes and sizes - we need to get over it and stop judging each other (and ourselves) for how we look. The research clearly shows that an active overweight person is more healthy and will live longer than an inactive skinny person.
There is a difference between between "skinny" and being at a healthy weight. Healthy weight is a range for the very reasons that you mention -- people come in different sizes and that is OK.

However, being overweight or obese IS a problem. It is heavily linked to a verity of health problems. We live in a country that changed the name of a disease from "adult onset diabetes" to "type II diabetes" because now so many pre-adults are diagnosed with it. In ability to control one's weight in a healthy range is a public health issue.

It isn't healthy to be fat. It really isn't.

And while an active person who is overweight is healthier than a thin person who isn't, it is more difficult to be active when one is overweight. It is harder on one's joints. Teen girls, especially, feel self conscious about being active, wearing a swimsuit, etc when they are overweight.

The healthiest option is to figure out what your body needs in the way of food to maintain a healthy weight, and also be active.

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Originally Posted by meemee View Post

this is where i disagree with ya :) sorta

our children are getting bombarded with weight all around us. as parents we dont need to add any of that.

....

dd and i have talks on weight and food. not because its the teens, but its something we have always talked about. it is just as much as our conversation as talking about the latest movie we saw.

dd just started middle school. i see what a huge impact it has on her life.

i understand where you are coming from Linda. i get what you are trying to say. recently dd went through allergies which restricted her diet. it had such a HUGE social and thus psychological impact on dd. THAT made me aware of how important it is HOW we talk to our children. and thus i feel instead of talking first ACT. make the changes. dont bring crap in teh house (that is non food packaged in the form of food) and as a family get active if you are not.
I think we agree more than we disagree. We both have frank conversations with our kids, and we both feel that the primary responsibility lays with us.

Of course our children and teens hear about this topic from a variety of sources, but we all know that much of what they hear will be complete BS. I'm just saying that we need to have our voices in there too.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Linda on the move View Post

There is a difference between between "skinny" and being at a healthy weight. Healthy weight is a range for the very reasons that you mention -- people come in different sizes and that is OK.

However, being overweight or obese IS a problem. It is heavily linked to a verity of health problems. We live in a country that changed the name of a disease from "adult onset diabetes" to "type II diabetes" because now so many pre-adults are diagnosed with it. In ability to control one's weight in a healthy range is a public health issue.

It isn't healthy to be fat. It really isn't.

And while an active person who is overweight is healthier than a thin person who isn't, it is more difficult to be active when one is overweight. It is harder on one's joints. Teen girls, especially, feel self conscious about being active, wearing a swimsuit, etc when they are overweight.

The healthiest option is to figure out what your body needs in the way of food to maintain a healthy weight, and also be active.
Yeah, I just disagree. I get that we are both trying to come at this from a perspective of health, but I will not be convinced that size is a useful characteristic to focus on. Some people's joints were built to carry more, and a young girl's self consciousness is an emotional concern, not a physical one. I think the more we focus on weight the more we lose sight of the real issues in health. Calling it "healthy weight" as opposed to "skinny" doesn't really make it any less about size and shape, which I don't find helpful. I find "healthy weight" (along with "fit", "trim", etc) to just be the current politically correct way of saying that someone is of a socially desirable size. The more we say "fat = unhealthy", the more we perpetuate a culture based on size (which is the real reason why that young girl feels like crap). We have no way of knowing what someone's fat/muscle ratio, blood pressure, or cholesterol is underneath their clothing, even if it is "plus size" clothing.

Type II diabetes is a serious problem, and yes, especially for children it is a new problem. But it isn't about weight. It's about blood sugar and putting a very high volume of very awful, very modern calories into your body. There have been overweight people throughout time, but Type II diabetes is relatively new. It's not the size of the people that is the problem, it is the foods they are eating. Size may be an additional repurcussion of eating those foods, but to focus on the symptom rather than the cause is unhelpful.
 

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Originally Posted by Sphinxy View Post

Yeah, I just disagree. I get that we are both trying to come at this from a perspective of health, but I will not be convinced that size is a useful characteristic to focus on. Some people's joints were built to carry more, and a young girl's self consciousness is an emotional concern, not a physical one. I think the more we focus on weight the more we lose sight of the real issues in health. Calling it "healthy weight" as opposed to "skinny" doesn't really make it any less about size and shape, which I don't find helpful. I find "healthy weight" (along with "fit", "trim", etc) to just be the current politically correct way of saying that someone is of a socially desirable size. The more we say "fat = unhealthy", the more we perpetuate a culture based on size (which is the real reason why that young girl feels like crap). We have no way of knowing what someone's fat/muscle ratio, blood pressure, or cholesterol is underneath their clothing, even if it is "plus size" clothing.

Type II diabetes is a serious problem, and yes, especially for children it is a new problem. But it isn't about weight. It's about blood sugar and putting a very high volume of very awful, very modern calories into your body. There have been overweight people throughout time, but Type II diabetes is relatively new. It's not the size of the people that is the problem, it is the foods they are eating. Size may be an additional repurcussion of eating those foods, but to focus on the symptom rather than the cause is unhelpful.
So true! Emotional health and how it relates to physical health is often overlooked as well. A girl with high self-esteem & slightly overweight may actually be healthier than the next kid with the perfect diet. If you suffer emotionally, your body will not be healthy no matter what you feed yourself. Nurturing the whole self is what we need to teach our girls! Emotionally, physically, mentally, spiritually.
 

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I think it first comes down to the overall family lifestyle. Has the girl just been "lucky" so far and is now putting on weight as puberty approaches, but has overall had unhealthy eating habits? Is a girl who has already established healthy eating/exercise habits now putting on weight as a possible indication of a growth spurt? I think first one has to approach this question by putting it into a full family perspective.

If it is an issue of unhealthy eating/sedentary lifestyle, and it is a habit amongst the whole family, the mother needs to understand that while the daughter may be the only one who is undergoing a visible change/gain right now, it is something the whole family needs to work on together. Planning family hikes, incorporating healthy foods into the diet (making it fun - trying new foods and new recipes), taking up a new hobby that will give them family time together, etc., is a great way to approach it. In this case, I'd say bring the whole family in on lifestyle changes and make no mention of the girl's weight. Instead, do make a point of explaining why these new foods are healthier choices than some of their older choices, so that the whole family can get educated on choosing healthier foods.

If this is an otherwise healthy/active family and the daughter has made no serious changes (other than quite possibly increased portion size), then I would assume growth spurt, especially considering age. In that case, I would also not mention the weight issue at all, but would wait and make myself available if my daughter wanted to talk or had any questions about her body image, etc. Then it just needs to be approached by letting her daughter know that when our bodies are changing, sometimes the weight may distribute in a way we don't like right then, but as long as we continue to maintain healthy habits, we will be healthy and learn to love our new bodies, regardless of how they may differ.

The one instance where I see a need to have a discussion on the issue if this is an otherwise healthy/active family and the daughter has made serious changes - eating less of healthy foods and more junk; spending greater amounts of time inside and in sedentary activities than in the past. Then the talk needs to be not about weight, but about overall lifestyle. And also about emotional health. The mother should find out if there is an underlying emotional reason that the daughter has changed her lifestyle - is she feeling overwhelmed with school work or expectation, is she being teased or bullied about her appearance, etc. If she feels she has less time for exercise and active sports/play, then perhaps her mother could help her come up with a schedule to make sure that this time is always allotted for during the day, giving her a break from the work. I'm sure that if this is the case, she will see that by taking a break for an activity she enjoys, she will better be able to concentrate and not be so overwhelmed with the work and will soon find that she's probably finishing the work a little faster and easier, too. If it's video games/computer/social time that is keeping her sedentary, then it's time to put a limit on those times (I feel these interests can still be allowed, but make sure that she's aware of a healthy balance). If it's teasing/bullying, find out if this is "normal" or "excessive" and take appropriate measures. And if it's more unhealthy foods, stress the importance of maintaining healthy foods in the diet. I'm all for "sometimes" foods myself - I don't deprive myself of anything at all, but just work to have an awareness of whether the food I am eating is healthy or not and keep the scales tipped toward the healthy foods.
 

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My daughter gained about 50 lbs in a year. She went from being a string-bean of a little kid, to a tall and healthy preteen- seemingly overnight. I'm sure I could have panicked, had a discussion about food and exercise, and generally scarred her for life, but I just left the door open for her to talk if she wanted to. She's still fairly slim, but not the string bean skinny she was. She is more aware of her body now, and taking her shopping in the women's department showed her exactly how much her body had grown. I think that a direct conversation with her would have gone badly, but a conversation about turning into an adult and being responsible for the care and feeding of her own body worked pretty well. I emphasized that she has to care for her body as purposefully as she does a pet or anything else she is responsible for. The biggest problem we face as a society is complacency. We forget that how we eat, and how we exercise- is part of nurturing ourselves, and for too many of us nurturing ourselves is somewhere at the bottom of the list of priorities.

On the whole, we make diet and exercise a family issue at home, when she is on her own,she's going to have to find her own way. As for our home though, it's healthy fats, healthy meals, healthy treats- with the occasional really bad for you treat. We go for walks as a family every day, the kids are out running in the yard all the time, in the summer we swim and hike, in the winter we cross country ski. We bike around town. We make it a point for everyone to move their bodies every day. Even video games around here are pretty active - Just Dance is a favorite, for example.

That said, I have PCOS, and I really struggle with my weight. Even when I eat right, I tend to carry more weight than I would like. I am healthy, but I would love to lose some weight to 'look' better. My daughter is aware of how I feel, but she is also aware that I am proud of keeping my body active, flexible, and strong, and that those things are bigger issues to me that the numbers on a scale or the tag in my clothing. I want her to know that it is about health, so I had to make it about health for me, too. Our daughters, in particular, can be our mirrors, and they often reflect back to us our greatest hopes alongside our greatest insecurities.
 

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I went from a kids size 12 to a women's 6 practically overnight, and I felt a LOT of body shame because I was bigger and more developed than my peers, though I have never been overweight in my life. Chances are good that your DD has already noticed she's gaining a lot of weight, and doesn't need anyone telling her. I was always a lanky, skinny kid... Until I got my period. My DD is almost 13 and hasn't started hers yet, and she is in the bottom 4% for BMI for her age/height. Even though I want her to gain weight, I still emphasize the importance of good food and not junk. I feel like this is a major problem in Western culture, these issues tend to only become addressed after bad eating habits are already established. While DD will likely never be overweight, no matter what she eats, I make sure she is educated about food, whether or not it's full of empty carbs, or if it offers fiber/calcium/whole grains so she grows up knowing the difference between healthy food and junk... That's the most important thing. I also have her get a bowl anytime she wants a snack from a larger container so she is aware of portion size, another thing that's important to establish early.
 

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Even as much as I talk about good health and weight not being important, I still see issues with teenagers. I found out over the weekend that my 13 year old has been smoking with her bff all summer. When I asked her why, her response was it calmed her and helped with her weight ughhhhh. So as a mom who has never focused on weight and constantly talked about exercize and healthy eating, it still didn't sink in with my 13 year old.
 

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I have some more thoughts on this issue due to a recent experience of dd1's. She is 13 and, after homeschooling all of her life, has just started 8th grade in a public school.

Earlier this week, the school had all the kids line up while they recorded their heights and weights. I'm not sure whether this was for some kind of study or to get actual information regarding kids who might be at risk. But anyhow, dd measured in at 5 feet 9 inches tall and weighed in at 145 lbs., which is well within the normal range for her height, and her friend measured in at 5 feet and 1/2 inch tall and weighed in at 160 lbs.

And her friend made the comment, "I'm not fat -- I'm just curvy," and dd agreed with her and said, "Yeah, I'm a lot taller than you but I'm not curvy." And then her friend told dd that she (dd) was "getting there" but she "wasn't there" yet -- that she was still at "that awkward stage" and "hadn't filled out" yet.

It seems to me that the height and weight charts are pretty unfair to girls who are very curvy, and maybe also to those who are large boned and/or have a lot of muscle tone. Dd's friend is a skateboarder and sounds pretty healthy and athletic, and it does seem unfair to me that she may go through her life labeled "obese" or "unhealthy" simply because of where she fits on the charts.

At the same time, it was rather astounding to me that my tall, slender, healthy, and very active dd, who just so happens to fit perfectly into the weight-for-height recommendations, also walked away from this experience feeling like there was something lacking in her physique, and like she was "awkward."

With this in mind, I really think that focusing on eating natural, healthy foods and on finding and making time for physical activities that we enjoy is much, much healthier than focusing on weight.

I hope my dd will eventually feel this way, too. As of now, both she and her friend have decided that they want to lost 15 lbs. this year.
 

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apparently being overweight and fat is not the same thing anymore. they are making a distinction. in light with Susan what you say.

so this is getting into a realm i am not sure.

i guess fat is body fat and i dont think the tool for measuring that is not accurate for teens.

i guess what matters really is the body fat measurement. but the general assumption is overweight is usually caused by body fat. which is so not true for many families including mine.
 

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Yes, and muscle weighs a lot more than fat, so it seems like someone with a higher proportion of fat to muscle could actually weigh in within a healthy range and still have too much fat, while someone with a higher proportion of muscle could weigh in as obese and still be healthy.

I also wonder about things like body width. My 8-year-old is very wide in her frame -- her shoulders and hips -- moreso than other kids her age and even some others who are taller than her. It seems to me that it would be healthy and necessary for someone with a wider frame to weigh more than someone who's very narrow. It's not like you can shave off your bones!
 
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