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Children and Obsesity

I few of my husbands' nieces and nephews (they range in age from 10-13). I would say they are at least 20-40lbs overweight and it really concerns me, but I am not sure what I can do about it without offending the parents. I think it is really sad that these children are going to grow up with unhealthy attitudes towards food and face a life of diabetes risk, etc and getting teased at school. We do get to spend some time with there anything I can do to try to instill good habits in them?

Wed. Feb 7, 11:22am

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Keep them active and give them healthy foods

You can't really control anything when they aren't with you. But you can intoduce them to activities and foods that they might like when you are with them in the hopes that it might influence them to eat and act differently when they are not with you. Go on hikes, bike ride, take them to the pool for a swim, show them how to play tennis, basketball, volleyball.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007, 11:40 AM

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i think it is fine to say something to the parents about their childrens' weight. something like, "i've noticed that (little timmy) is really growing up! maybe we could start an activity weekend, twice a month, when we could get together and check out different hikes, bike trails, rollerblading, picking up trash in a local park..." that way, the ball is put into play, but it is in the parents' court. or inquire about what activities the children may already be interested in for future birthday or holiday gifts...if your husband's side of the family is heavy-set, maybe you could say something like, "wow, (little timmy) is looking more like (uncle mike) all the time. does he get a lot of exercise?" it is abuse, in my opinion, to burden children with the problems associated with being heavy. it's like seeing bruises on their arms or legs and ignoring the issue. it's your family and, i feel, your responsibility to say something.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007, 4:27 PM

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Thursday, February 08, 2007, 6:38 PM

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is this a "touchy subject" that no one wants to weigh-in on? (had to use the pun, sorry!) i am surprised at the lack of comments.

if the child was limping, would you ask why? if the child was wearing an eye patch, would you ask why? if so, i think you should also ask about the noticable weight gain. granted it is a subject to approach with much tact, but it should be approached nonetheless.

Friday, February 09, 2007, 10:20 AM

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Activity classes as gifts.

One of the tactics we've taken is to buy a activity class instead of a standard gift for birthdays etc. Of course, check with the parents ahead of time, being clear that you are trying to help increase the child's level of activity and general health. Also, we don't take the kids to standard restaurants for meals out, but try different ethnic foods, encouraging them to try something really out there!

Yes, bring it up, but bring it up with something constructive you can do to help.

Friday, February 09, 2007, 10:55 AM

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This must be entirely based on how you feel your sibling would react to any comments. I simply wouldn't be able to approach my sister - she would immediately be on the defensive and angry at me for daring to criticize her precious offspring and how she is raising them (and to her every remark about her kids is a remark about her parenting). There isn't enough tact in the world to enable me to have that discussion with her.

Friday, February 09, 2007, 11:00 AM

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i think it's an issue that is worth an argument. mention it. if the parent wants to become angry in the face of constructive observation, that is the parent's choice and problem. but the issue will have been raised and maybe stir up some changes as a result. remind the parent that you are all part of the same family and that you care a great deal about the health and welfare of everyone in the family, even at the cost of someone getting a little defensive.

Friday, February 09, 2007, 11:21 AM

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11:00 am poster here - I guess I feel the above post is just a bit idealistic. I know my siblings like no one here ever could and I would say the OP's husband knows his too. I cannot help but feel that anyone would have to approach this situation from that perspective and do what is right for them.

For example I could have this conversation with my brother no prob, but I can guarantee any such conversation with my sister would result in her not speaking to me for at least several years. Call it a cop-out or whatever you want to, but she'll put the rest of the family through hell and force things to the point where they have to side with her or me (she's done it for other things and to other family memebers), and the end result would still be that her kids are fat. No amount of family drama would change that, so in that case I prefer to zip my lip and maintain the status quo. She may be prickly, but I still love her and her family and want to maintain my relationship with them.

Certainly one can say it's the parent's choice to become defensive and angry, but if you're the one who brought the issue up, so don't be surprised if that's not how they perceive it. You *are* being critical, no matter how pure your intentions are and no matter how constructive you try to be, and some folks respond very poorly to that. You just have to be able to judge your audience. In the case of my sister I can be content with setting a good (not self-righteous) example and making sure the kids and I have good, active fun when we are together. Living well is a great way to convince others that you're onto something.

Friday, February 09, 2007, 12:26 PM

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i don't pussy-foot around bullies or angry people or those who only listen to their own ideas. to me, to do so would be to compromise myself and my beliefs and give in to the one whose always right. i have a brother who is as the sister above is described. he gets angry and does just what is outlined above. he gets to be himself and i get to be myself. if other family members do not wish to be themselves around him, that is their choice. i do not intentionally stir things up, but i also do not intentionally ignore issues that i feel are important enough to bring up, regardless of whether my brother decides to be unapproachable or not. it may be idealistic if you do not act this way, but to me it is normal. i'm not trying to force my way of living, just sharing my opinion. i respect that people do what is best for them, and i do what's best for me.

Friday, February 09, 2007, 12:37 PM

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Ahhh, but you see I AM myself. I simply do not care to get into an unproductive argument with her when I know the result will cause pain and suffering for the whole family and not change a thing. Of course if you chose to interpret that as 'pussyfooting' and 'compromising my beliefs' then that's your choice. I live my life the way I see fit and simply chose not to critcize her when she does the same and feels she does so just fine without any critical comments from me. To be fair, she has never said a critical word to me - just gets very defensive when one says or implies anything about her family (and how she's raising them).

Friday, February 09, 2007, 12:58 PM

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Here's a possibility. My sis and I relate best when we start speaking about our own experience as children. So, I'll say something like: Did you realize growing up how unhealthy mom and dad's attitude to food was? And to this day, mom's relationship with food is bizarre. Then we start talking about how we can avoid the same mistakes with our families. Thing is, she has children, and I don't. So I also have to be careful about saying stuff that comes across as criticism. But when the subject is brought up in the context of our shared experience, it's somehow easier.

Friday, February 09, 2007, 2:19 PM

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OP here - to the 10:55am poster, I love your idea of activity classes as gifts! Do you have any specific suggestions?

Friday, February 09, 2007, 4:07 PM

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I am not that poster, but I would think that specifics would depend on the child's interest, and what is available in your area. Many children seem to groove on the martial arts, and it is not hard to find around here. Dancing and acrobatics are impossible to find here. Roller Skating Rinks are everywhere, and some, but ;by no means all, offer lessons. Some areas of the country offer skiing others offer horse back riding. The point is, not every place offers every activity, and if a chilk don't wanna, he won't. If he or she is not loving the activity, it is hard for her or him to get past the teasing of being new, a slighty clumsy/uncertain beginner, and already over weight

Martial arts depend more on balance and leverage than strength, and that gives most kids an equal playing field quickly If they don't like anything except electronic games, then pick something YOU like to do, and do it with them. THEN give them the class, once they already have some success under their belts

And don't stop your thinking with activity. How about giving boys and girls some cooking class lessons. How empowering is that, to be able to tell for themselves what healthful food looks and tastes like, AND be able to say, "I made it myself?

Friday, February 09, 2007, 5:39 PM

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here is a link to a discussion on how to help overweight children. from a link on


Tuesday, February 13, 2007, 10:06 AM

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question: how many of your kids choose the apples over the fries at McDonalds?

Sunday, August 15, 2010, 8:15 AM

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Trick question - we don't eat at McDonald's! :)

Sunday, August 15, 2010, 10:03 AM

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a great idea is to map specific healthy foods to activities that they love. For example, if they are into chess or "brain" activities, teach them how certain vegetables help them think better.

If they have glasses, talk about how certain foods help with their eyesight and that might help them in the future.

If they are into football, show them how much protein and calcium is in green vegetables. Too often we want to preach- kids are pretty smart- if we create logical associations and gently reinforce them, they just may follow.

Friday, September 24, 2010, 2:50 PM

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I woud definitely recommend trying affirmations or other similar techniques. When it comes to creating weight loss affirmations for children, it's important to keep them age-appropriate and positive. For example, instead of saying "I hate my body," try saying "I love my body and want to take care of it." This helps shift the child's mindset from a negative one to a more positive and empowering one.

Thursday, June 01, 2023, 2:25 AM

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