Childhood Obesity: Dissecting A Big Problem

By Laura Fenamore

Recently, one of my clients called me because she was very upset. Her eight-year-old daughter was being tested for diabetes. My client and her spouse have struggled with their weight for years, but the idea that their little girl might be overweight and sick was horrifying to them. As I mentored her through the discussion and helped her to see that she wasn't paralyzed, she finally felt safe enough to admit that her daughter was 23 pounds overweight. 

 The sad truth is this: our kids are getting bigger and bigger, while their self-esteem plummets. As a body image/weight release coach, I truly believe that we are all perfect in an imperfect way and I am committed to helping others love themselves from the inside out!

 First, let’s acknowledge we have some hurdles to cross over and slowly and steadily we can get over them. Imagine a child too heavy to run and play – too burdened by low self-esteem to enjoy their childhood. As any overweight adult can tell you, the heaviest burden is definitely not the extra weight.

 Let’s face it, busy parents are often doing all they can to make ends meet and provide loving homes, so it’s easy to think that there isn’t any REAL harm in a fast food treat once a week, right? Well, one problem is that we need to stop calling it a treat. An apple is a treat. Peanut butter on wheat thins can be a yummy treat. Learning to re-language our discussions around food is vitally important to creating healthier families. Fast food is junk food, and junk does not belong in our bodies.

A 2011 study in the journal Pediatrics further indicated a link between childhood obesity and the marketing of fast foods to children, “The sheer number of advertisements that children and adolescents see for junk food and fast food have an effect. So, too, does the shift away from good nutritional practices that increased media screen time seems to create.”  So let’s begin by turning off the television, and quite literally moving our kids, and ourselves, towards a healthier lifestyle.

 In addition to controlling our language about food, here are a few simple tips to help combat the spread of waistlines of all ages:

  • Move. Move every single day. Move in a dedicated, disciplined way WITH your kids. The message is simple. We eat everyday and we move EVERY day. We change our clothes, we brush our teeth, we go to school, and we MOVE. And make it as fun as you can. Walk. Throw the heavy ball. Ride a bike. Dance. Even cleaning their room can be a fun exercise if you do it together (and you’ll have the added benefit of a clean room!)  For more ideas and tips on how to incorporate more movement into your family’s life, check out
  • Kick fast food to the curb. No exceptions. Instead, create alternative quick menu choices WITH your kids. And plan ahead. If you know you won’t get home till 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday and Thursday nights, make something on Sunday or Monday that can be heated and served to hungry bellies right away.
  • Encourage healthy snacking and portion control. If your child loves chips, instead of cutting them out of his/her diet entirely consider allowing them to have a small portion of chips instead. Serve them in a Yum Yum Dish, fun, colorful, 4-ounce bowls that say “Yum Yum Time is…” along the rim, and “Over” at the bottom. Not only will this control the amount of food your child snacks on, but it helps teach kids what a serving really is. And they’re fun for adults too!
  • Most importantly, be sure to address your child’s weight from the outside in – AND the inside out. Weight is math. It is not a statement of value. Your child is valuable and beautiful. Those things are not up for debate. HEALTHY is your goal. From the “inside out,” be sure that there isn’t an emotional piece to your child’s weight.

 Are they eating compulsively? Are they being teased? If so, consider enlisting the aid of teachers, guidance counselors or a therapist. You can’t have too many people on your side in the fight against obesity!

 Remember, no matter what you do, the worst thing you can do is NOTHING. Our kids are our most vital natural resource. Starting them out HEALTHY and FIT is the very least we can do. 

 Click here for more information and to read the Surgeon General’s Call to Action regarding childhood obesity. 

About the Author: Weight Release & Body Image Coach Laura Fenamore is on a mission to guide women around the world to love what they see in the mirror, one pinky at a time, so they can unlock the secrets to a healthy weight and start loving their lives as soon as possible. Laura is the author of the forthcoming book Weightless: 7 Tools to Love Your Body (and Lose Weight For Good) and a frequent contributor to local and national media – including First for Women, Ladies Home Journal, the Dr. Pat Show and blog contributor on Betty Confidential, Daily Love and Positively Positive. Laura believes that self-love and self-care is where the transformation begins. Learn more about her programs, invite her to speak or contribute to your program or conference, at