According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 28% of adolescents are overweight. This means that about 1 in every 5 parents is thinking about how to discuss this with their child. Creating a healthful home environment, modeling healthful behaviors, and providing encouragement and support to adolescents for positive behavior changes may be more effective than communicating with adolescents about weight-related topics, according to a new study released in the November/December 2012 issue of the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior.
According to the Institute of Medicine, Committee on Prevention of Obesity in Children and Youth, overweight and obese adolescents have an increased risk for physical comorbidities, including type 2 diabetes and negative psychosocial consequences stemming from the stigma associated with being overweight. With the rise in childhood obesity, development regarding interventions specifically for parents of overweight adolescents could be part of the solution.
Considering the challenges associated with parenting adolescents in general, and to identify potential targets for interventions, it is important to recognize issues faced specifically by parents of overweight adolescents. Investigators from the University of Minnesota posed two questions: (1) what issues do parents of overweight adolescents face? and (2) what advice do parents of overweight adolescents have for other parents? Twenty-seven adolescents and their parents were surveyed to determine factors contributing to successful weight loss among adolescents.
The investigators found that the issues raised by parents included difficulties encountered in effectively communicating with their adolescent about weight-related topics, perceived inability to control the adolescent's decisions about eating and physical activity, concern for the adolescent's physical and mental well-being, and feelings of personal responsibility for the adolescent's weight issues. Parental advice for helping overweight adolescents included having a healthful home environment, modeling healthful behaviors, and providing encouragement and support to adolescents for positive behavior changes.