With the ever-growing rates of childhood obesity dieting may seem like a good idea for children who are more than pleasantly plump. However, as a Children’s Hospital in Boston study found, dieting is not always an effective means of weight loss for children. Researchers at this hospital determined that children who dieted seemed to regain weight more rapidly and suffer from an assortment of other ill effects as a result of their calorie restriction efforts. Before encouraging your overweight kid to try a diet, consider some of the negative side effects that child dieters may experience.
Increased Binge Eating Risks
When children are placed on highly restrictive diets, they are more prone to engaging in binge eating, found the Ochsner Clinic Foundation. While the exact cause of this phenomenon is not known, many attribute it to the fact that children whose parents encourage dieting take advantage of time away from their parents and down the unhealthy foods that their parents prohibit when their diet guardians are not around. Researchers suggest that, just like adult dieters, child dieters must be committed to the task of losing weight themselves or the efforts will be ultimately unsuccessfully.
Body Image Development
When parents encourage dieting, they should consider the impact that their focus upon weight may be having on their child’s body image development, reports Get Fit Tennessee. This startup-funded weight-loss movement argues that parents who continually push their children toward losing weight may be sending the message to their child that he is not good enough as he is, leading the child to view his body negatively, a viewpoint that can later prove difficult to overcome.
Bone Development Challenges
As children grow and develop, their bones change. If children are on a calorie-restrictive diet, their bones may not receive the nutrients they require to properly develop, reports the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases. As this source reminds parents, children need a balanced diet and adequate calories for proper development. If they fail to provide their child with these dietary needs, their child could suffer long-term developmental challenges.
Eating Disorder Development
Achieving successful weight control is all about building a healthy relationship with food. When children diet instead of changing the way that they view food, they run the risk of developing an eating disorder, reports KidsHealth. If your child is a chronic overeater, she can easily turn the tide and become an equally addicted under-eater, presenting a whole new array of potentially life-threatening challenges.
Instead of encouraging children to adopt strict diets, parents should focus upon teaching their children to make healthy choices, reports Get Fit Tennessee. While small changes, like picking a banana over a bag of chips or snacking on reduced-fat crackers instead of cheese puffs, may not produce as sudden a change, they will ultimately help children lose weight. Compared to diets, these habit-changing efforts are more likely to produce healthy and long-lasting changes.