Have you ever caught yourself teasing your daughter with, “Ang taba-taba mo na!”? Maybe it’s time to stop. According to a recent study from researchers at Cornell University, women who remembered their parents commenting on their weight when they were little are more likely to be obese and unhappy with their weight.
“Commenting on a woman’s weight is never a good idea, even when they are young girls,” says lead author Brian Wansink, PhD, and author of Slim by Design: Mindless Eating Solutions for Everyday Life.
Research involved surveying 501 women between 20 and 35 years old about their body image. They were also asked to recall how frequently their parents commented on their weight.
Results showed that women with healthy BMIs were 27 percent less likely to recall their parents mentioning their weight. On the other hand, women who were overweight were 28 percent more likely to recall their parents making comments on their eating habits. These results suggested that comments on weight during childhood could have an impact on one’s BMI during adulthood.
There’s more. For both slim and overweight women, those who recalled their parents commenting on their weight when they were a child were more likely to be unhappy with their current weight and have a negative body image as adults. Your casual comments could have more impact than you realize, parents.
The question now is: how do you help your child keep a healthy weight while ensuring she still grows up with a healthy body image? Dr. Wansink recommends focusing on encouraging healthier food choices.
“If you’re worried about your child’s weight, avoid criticizing them or restricting food. Instead, nudge healthy choices and behaviors by giving them freedom to choose for themselves and by making the healthier choices more appealing and convenient,” he said. “After all, it’s the choices that children make for themselves that will lead to lifelong habits.”
So, the next time you go grocery shopping, go easy on the chips and sweets aisle. Instead, head to the fresh produce section, and let your child pick out fruits and vegetables. Stock your fridge with sliced fruits and vegetables in easy to see and easy to reach places. Consider buying bananas, grapes, apples and oranges because they’re easy to snack on. You may also want to consult your child’s pediatrician on the the right weight for your child's age.
If you want your child to eat healthier, it’s important that the whole family does so too, says Sally Kuzemchak, MS, RD. Your child is more likely to eat healthy food if she sees you enjoying it as well. Make healthy dinners easier by planning out dishes for the week. Include a vegetable dish with every meal and lead by example, pile up veggies on your plate, too. Be kind to yourself as well. If you keep wondering about your own weight in front of the kids, it may negatively affect how your child views his or her body image.