Grocery stores: Key to the childhood obesity struggle?

Picture of obese teen.Psy­chol­o­gist Denise Wil­fley thinks she one of the keys to fight­ing the ris­ing preva­lence of child­hood obe­sity. Her sug­ges­tion? Avoid the food power strug­gle in the first place by not bring­ing unhealthy foods into the home.The find­ings of her research were pub­lished in 2007 in the Jour­nal of the Amer­i­can Med­ical Asso­ci­a­tion(Vol. 298, No. 14). She notes that obese chil­dren need ongo­ing sup­port from adults and peers to drop their extra weight–and keep it off. But accord­ing to Wil­fley, it’s not a mat­ter of willpower.

So many par­ents say, ‘My kid should have willpower to stop eat­ing’, but that’s not the right approach…part of good par­ent­ing is avoid­ing the food power strug­gle in the first place by not bring­ing unhealthy foods into the home. The deci­sion should be made at the gro­cery store, not at the din­ner table.

Sup­port­ing her stance, Wilfley’s research demon­strated that chil­dren who lost weight were more likely to be suc­cess­ful at keep­ing the weight off after two years if their par­ents and friends sup­ported improved habits such as increased exer­cise and healthy eat­ing reg­i­mens. The mes­sage to par­ents and care­givers of obese chil­dren is clear: help chil­dren make healthy choices and model healthy eat­ing and an active lifestyle.

Reported in the Mon­i­tor on Psy­chol­ogy, Octo­ber 2011, p. 17. Image © 2009 Toby­ot­ter, used under a Cre­ative Com­mons Attri­bu­tion license.


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