Childhood obesity is growing at an alarming rate, but experts say parents are more powerful than they imagine at helping kids fight the problem.
Mothers in families where food is sometimes scarce due to money problems have a tendency to give their children high-calorie foods to boost overall calories or foods to stimulate the appetite -- two practices they should avoid if they want their child to remain at a healthy weight, said Emily Feinberg, an assistant professor of maternal and child health at Boston University School of Public Health and an assistant professor of pediatrics at Boston Medical Center.
Helping your child have good self-esteem can also motivate him or her to lose weight, found Kiti Freier, a pediatric psychologist at Loma Linda University in Loma Linda, Calif., and director of the Growing Fit Program there. "Their readiness to change relates to whether they felt supported, not how big they were," she said.
By the time they were three years old, more than 43 percent of the children were statistically overweight. But, "in the group of kids overweight by our measure, three-quarters of those mothers thought their child's weight was just fine," Fuentes-Afflick said.