Weighty Issues

Motivating an obese child about losing weight may not be just about his/her weight.

Ever hit rock bottom trying to address your adolescent child about being overweight? It is indeed a tough call. On one hand, you are worried about their health, the psychosocial stigmas, and the negative physical consequences associated with being overweight or obese. On the other hand, you also realise their need for autonomy.

An elaborate survey of parents and adolescents was carried to determine factors contributing to successful weight loss among adolescents. The investigators from the University of Minnesota posed two questions:

  1. What issues do parents of overweight adolescents face?
  2. What advice do parents of overweight adolescents have for other parents?

The investigators found that the issues raised by parents included difficulties in effectively communicating with their adolescent about weight-related topics, perceived inability to control the adolescent’s decisions about eating and physical activity, concern for the adolescent’s physical and mental well-being, and feelings of personal responsibility. Parental advice for helping overweight adolescents included having a healthful home environment, modelling healthful behaviours, and providing encouragement and support to adolescents for positive behaviour changes.

As Kerri Boutelle, PhD, professor in Pediatrics and Psychiatry and lead investigator put it, “Exploring other methods of addressing weight issues besides just focusing on weight loss may be needed when working with adolescents— such as being fit and physically active, or eating for health.”



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