Junk food can act like a drug. Kids craving a fix do not have the foresight to realize that a nightly sleeve of Oreos or a daily jumbo-sized bag of chips will lead to extra pounds and possibly lifelong unhealthy habits. The myth that kids can eat anything and still remain slim is a skewed one. Perhaps before the era of electronic pads and social media, that idea held some truth, but the postprandial games of tag and basketball have been replaced with screen time, leading to a more sedentary lifestyle in many kid, and leading to childhood obesity. Today, kids are more prone to find company via the electronic route. But should kids who fit the criteria for being overweight diet?
Doctors agree that seriously restrictive diets can be psychologically detrimental. Kids who are taught to restrict calories or food intake, or are singled out with a plate of celery sticks while the rest of the family indulges in pizza may develop insecurities that will lead to adult patterns of disordered eating. Diets cause cyclical eating patterns consisting of periods of restriction and indulgence that only lead to weight gain in the long run.
However ignoring the problem without intervention can lead to a slippery slope. The key to helping kids develop good eating habits is role modeling, since kids are influenced by what they see and tend to reference parental behavior. Parents who display healthy eating patterns, and purchase and consume foods that will benefit their health emphasize the importance of caring for one’s own body through their actions. Refraining from “body bashing” and teaching kids portion control in the context of health instead of weight are also quality approaches. As long as the focus is positive and collaborative, kids struggling with weight gain are bound to develop a healthier outlook organically.