“Mom, Dad… Am I Overweight?”

Scott Kahan, MD, MPH

Talking about weight with your child is tough. But with one-third of young girls and one-quarter of boys reporting weight-based teasing from peers, helping your kids address weight and health is a necessary conversation.

When parents search online or ask a medical professional for help in talking with their children about tough topics like sex or drinking, they can find an array of useful tools.  Yet if they search for information on weight, they won’t find much beyond the simplistic ‘eat less, move more’ message we’ve heard for years. That message is is simply not sufficient to help the millions of families facing this serious and emotional health issue.

But what do you say if your child asks a question that may be harder to answer or take you off guard, such as, “Am I fat?”  Knowing what to say can be tricky.

In an effort to help parents, the Strategies to Overcome and Prevent (STOP) Obesity Alliance and the Alliance for a Healthier Generation (Alliance) collaborated to create Weigh In: Talking to Your Children About Weight and Health. This free, one-of-a-kind resource fills the void of information on discussing weight and health with children by providing research-based practical advice to parents struggling with this sensitive and difficult topic.

The Weigh In website breaks down real world scenarios so parents can easily review the issues that are most important to them. The scenarios include BMI confusion, BMI screenings, cultural differences, body image, bullying, weight bias, inter-family weight differences and parental obesity. Parents and caregivers can easily download information for the scenario that suits them best.

This website is part of a series of resources which include:

      • The Weigh In Guide: an online e-book, available in English and Spanish that fills the information gap and offer practical advice for parents struggling with how to discuss weight and health with their children.
      • The Weigh In Discussion ToolKit, based on the Weigh In Guide, which provides everything a community leader might need to host a small group discussion with parents to help them talk to their kids about weight and health.
      • Ways to Weigh In which outlines ways that you can get involved anywhere in your community to host a discussion with parents to empower them to talk to their children about weight and health.

While STOP and the Alliance continue to work to address obesity and stigma associated with the disease, we need help from everyone to help change the conversation. We look forward to hearing how Weigh In has helped you and are always open to feedback on STOP’s work to change the conversation around obesity and health. If you would like to contact us, please feel free to email obesity@gwu.edu.

About the Author:
Scott Kahan, MD, MPH
, is the director of the Strategies to Overcome and Prevent (STOP) Obesity Alliance as well as the director of the National Center for Weight and Wellness and faculty member at The George Washington University’s School of Public Health & Health Services.



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