Q: My daughter is a little overweight. How can I help her slim down naturally without damaging her self-esteem?
A: Although obesity is an epidemic problem in the U.S., I suggest being very cautious about how you discuss weight concerns with your daughter. I make a point in every wellness visit to stress the importance of being healthy rather than focusing on the scale. Quick fixes like dieting with the intention of losing weight are not the answer for kids (or adults). If you help her adopt healthier nutritional and fitness habits instead, you’ll enable her to develop ownership over her body. Also important: working on emotional coping techniques to help her see that how she treats herself now can carry through her entire life.
Lawrence D. Rosen, M.D., is the founder of the Whole Child Center in Oradell, New Jersey, and co-author of Treatment Alternatives for Children.