Childhood obesity has long been a problem in the nation. If your child is overweight research shows quick diets aren’t the best option for them.
The International Journal of Obesity did a study on sets of twins. They observed them over a period of time and collected their biometrics at different ages until they were 25.
They compared the twin who had been dieting versus the one who had not and found that the twin who dieted or used food restrictions had a higher BMI (Body Mass Index) and a higher risk for diabetes and metabolic syndromes. The other twin who had been making little changes to their diets over time had a way healthier BMI.
Sanford Health Dietitian Rachel Iverson says children who are also attempting quick weight loss diets are far more likely to suffer from an eating disorder.
“That’s something we really want to watch– especially things like the new Weight Watcher App that came out for kids,” Iverson says. “That’s something really serious because again that is a self-led diet and when kids are doing that, they are not always doing it in the healthiest way and they are often using guilt as a motivator for themselves. That can be a real proponent of developing those eating disorders.”
Iverson says it was her struggle with weight loss when she was young that motivated her to get into the health profession.
“I was picked on a lot for when I was younger for being overweight and at the age, I was at I was actually at a very healthy weight,” she tells KX.
It was the constant bullying that led her to believe she was overweight.
“They would say things to me like ‘hey do you want my extra slice of pizza, cuz we all know you are a fatty, or they would call me whale a lot,” says Iverson. “And I would eat it because I was hurting emotionally and I wanted something to be comforting.”
She started extreme dieting in hopes to cover up the shame and guilt she kept feeling.
“I wouldn’t even have fruit juice because it had way too much sugar and things like that,” Iverson says. “I went really intense I went from 140 lbs. to 114 lbs. in a period of months.”
Even with a very limited diet and working out before and after school– she still didn’t feel any better.
“Well that kind of weight loss doesn’t make you happier and when I went to 114 lbs I still thought I was fat.”
It wasn’t until she started doing research and finding out that being skinny doesn’t mean you’re healthy. Now a registered dietitian, Iverson says it’s important to get kids to start developing healthy eating habits early, and for parents not to shame their kids into eating better.
“Maybe you are saying it out of a place of care or maybe you are saying that to a child out of a place of care,” says Iverson. “Do you really think you should have a 5th oreo? I hear parents saying that to their kids and it kind of tears me up inside because again it just layers guilt on.”
Iverson says parents need to lead by example, and that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t talk about your child’s weight with them, but try to do it nonchalantly.
“Have more meals together, families that have more meals together tend to have less risk of childhood obesity and obesity late in life. You need to be setting those patterns up. And don’t say negative things about sweets and things.”
Lastly, she adds that choosing your words wisely is important.
She says, “try not to say anything you wouldn’t want said to yourself, because that can stick with people.”
Iverson says some of the most common eating disorders from children into adulthood is binge eating and Orthorexia.