Overweight or obese adolescents who were spoken to about their weight by their mothers and fathers were more likely to engage in binge eating and use unhealthy weight-control behaviors than teens whose parents spoke with them in terms of eating healthier, according to a study published in JAMA Pediatrics.
"I often do not even have my pediatric patients weigh themselves facing the scale; the number is not the goal," says Ashley Barrient, MEd, LPC, RD, LDN, dietician and bariatric counselor at Loyola Center for Metabolic Surgery & Bariatric Care. "Kids are overwhelmed by talk of weight and dieting and feel they cannot change the numbers. But if you talk with them about the whole family making healthy eating changes as a team, they feel supported and positive change happens more frequently."
Barrient says that children typically view their family and home as a safe environment and discussion of weight by their parents is threatening and viewed as criticism. "No one likes to feel judged and criticized," said Barrient, who always involves the whole family when counseling adolescents. "By addressing the family as a group, everyone makes positive changes."
Barriant works with families in an integrated team approach at Loyola with psychologists, exercise physiologists, physicians and surgeons to combat obesity.