Family Support Helps Address Adolescent Obesity
> 5/30/2008 2:44:00 PM


Many teenagers struggle to accept their body shape and weight, and as society places great importance on thinness while also emphasizing the health risks of excess weight, many teenagers also take unhealthy actions with regard to weight and eating. Binge eating, purging, and other damaging behaviors are common among overweight and thin teenagers alike, and family influences can add to these problems.

Binge eating is prevalent among teenagers, and many teenagers do so in combination with purging behaviors, such as abusing laxatives or diet pills, in an effort to lose weight. Family members, while they may try to help, can make these problems worse. Efforts to call attention to a teenager’s weight, while they may stem from good intentions, are largely counterproductive, and teasing along with pressure to lose weight from family and peers can contribute further to weight issues. Rather, parents need to be supportive of their children and work to instill in them healthy behaviors, setting strong examples of healthy eating at the dinner table. At meal times, parents can provide both healthy food and positive attitudes for their children.

Family meals provide an opportunity for parents to model healthy behaviors for their children and express their opinions about eating habits, drug use, and other difficult subjects that teenagers must face. Sitting down as a family may not be a possibility for every family on every night, but it is important that family members are able to show each other support. For parents, sharing a meal with their child may be the perfect time to set a course for a healthy future.

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