By Dr. Gary Pepper
Weight management is a key component of a healthy lifestyle although keeping one’s weight on track is often a frustrating and perplexing task. To get the whole family involved in the weight management effort may seem almost impossible.
Simply identifying a younger member of the family as overweight can be a challenge. A 2015 study from the U.K. found that 31% of parents underestimated their child’s weight status. For a child who is “very overweight” per government guidelines there was an 80% chance the parent would classify the child as healthy weight. Teens themselves are not very good at identifying themselves as overweight as 80% of overweight teenaged boys and 71% of overweight teenaged girls perceived themselves as normal weight. Recognizing that a child is overweight is crucial to preventing the progression to adult obesity. 72% of overweight kindergartners were obese by the time they reached 8th grade.
Being overweight as a child is more than an issue of esthetics or social acceptance. Children who are obese have a 400% increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes as adults and possess a significantly higher risk of eventually dying from coronary artery disease as adults.
Perhaps overweight parents fail to recognize how their own habits and attitudes toward nutrition influence others in their family. In another study from the U.K., 48% of overweight children had overweight parents while only 13% of overweight children had normal weight parents. The odds of developing obesity if one parent is obese are 3 times normal and increase to 15 fold above average if both parents are obese.
What can be done to influence all family members to adhere to a healthy diet and maintain proper weight? Experts in pediatric obesity are quick to point out that most medical interventions designed to reverse obesity in children and teens including behavioral modification and medications have failed to produce consistently good results. These same experts are unanimous in suggesting that prevention is the key. A study from University of Minnesota in 2014 showed that family meals during which parent and child experience a positive interaction regarding healthy food choices and appropriate portions result in a reduction in risk of the child becoming obese. Conversely, hostile or indulgent interactions during family meals increase obesity chances for the child. An important factor in the success of family intervention in preventing childhood obesity is that adults themselves participate in the healthy eating process and are aware of what constitutes appropriate portions and calorie content of the different food choices.
To provide help to families needing a weight management strategy we developed Colors, Shapes and Sizes or “CSS” for short. The program is based upon a scientifically and artistically designed plate and bowl to guide portion control while still being fun, and pleasing to look at. The Facebook page “cssdiet” provides complete information about the program. Find out now if CSS is right for you and your family.