Parents worried about their teen’s extra pounds should avoid using the “d word” — diet — because it ultimately backfires, new research shows.
A University of Minnesota study found that overweight teens whose parents urged them to diet were far more likely to still be heavy five years later than hefty adolescents whose parents had said nothing.
“My advice to parents is to stop talking about dieting and weight,” said Dianne Neumark-Sztainer, lead author of the study published this month in the journal Pediatrics.
Surprisingly, the parents who accurately perceived their teens as overweight were no more likely than the other group to engage in positive behaviors to help them manage their weight, she said.
Those parental behaviors include: making more fruit and vegetables — and fewer soft drinks — available at home, increasing the number of meals eaten as a family and giving encouragement to make healthy food choices or be more physically active.
The only difference between the groups was the prodding to diet, said Neumark-Sztainer, author of “I’m, Like, So Fat,” a book to help teens make healthy food and exercise choices.
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