Parents are finding it harder and harder to talk to their children about weight problems and body image.A new study has revealed two fifths of parents fear talking to their children about weight and body issues. These parents believe that talking about weight problems might lead their children to develop eating disorders like anorexia and bulimia.
This fear is even greater for parents who see their children as overweight or obese. Of these adults, 65% believe they could harm their child’s body image by bringing up issues of weight according to a study conducted on behalf of Netmums and non-profit organisation Mend - Mind, Exercise, Nutrition... Do it.
Mend clinical director and co-founder Dr Paul Chadwick said, "The majority of parents of overweight and obese children are taking the courageous step of talking with their child about weight-related issues despite concerns that by doing so they may also be doing harm. This is an awful situation for parents to find themselves in and many parents are probably quite distressed about this. Our survey shows that they clearly want and need more help in this area.”
The study included 1,000 parents with children between the ages of 5 and 16. If revealed that many parents are very worried about damaging their childes self-esteem or body image. Of these parents, two thirds said they would like more support to help them talk about weight issues with their child. .
"With obesity affecting a third of the UK's children, we can no longer afford for weight to be a taboo subject” Chadwick said. “It's crucial that we talk about obesity in a helpful way with a focus on the positive aspects of being healthy rather than looking good."
With the rising number of obese children in the UK, more and more parents will need support and help to address weight issues in their children. Currently, 10.5% of boys and 8.8% of girls aged 4-5 in the UK are considered Obese. This number rises to 20.5% of boys and 17.4% of girls by age 10 and 11.
Some of the worst affected areas like Great Yarmouth are already working on campaigns to help stem the tide of childhood obesity but for many, the damage is already done. Being overweight can drastically increase the risk of developing cancers, type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
This means more than just health problems, it means higher bills for the NHS. Obesity is projected to cost the National Health Service £9.7 billion by 2050. By then, the overall cost to society could total nearly £50 billion per year.