Here’s a disturbing fact: Thirteen percent of 9-13-year-olds have reported dieting in the last month. Dieting pre-teens?
You might think, “What’s the big deal – it’s only 13%”? But I’m blown away that any child that age would be dieting at all. Dieting, as we commonly use the term, rarely means changing one’s dietary habits to healthy ones, but instead means following one of the current fad diets, or just not eating at all. In the 9-13 year old age range, it’s probably more like the latter.
Where on earth do kids this age learn about dieting anyway? Probably from their parents. And at the risk of sounding sexist – I guess I’m going to go out on a limb here – probably from their mothers. Whether we want to admit it or not, children observe and copy everything we do. If you smoke, expect your children to smoke; watch a lot of T.V., expect your children to watch a lot of T.V.; look in the mirror and say, “Ugh, I need to lose 10 lbs.”, expect the same from your child.
Okay, you may, in fact, really need to lose ten pounds. But how many women (men too, but mostly women) are trying to live up to some standard set by fashion magazines or the film industry? Knowing what I know about the epidemic rise of childhood obesity, I really doubt it’s the kids who actually need to lose weight that are dieting. My guess is that it’s more likely kids trying to emulate mom, and those looking up to the Lindsays and Nicoles of super-celebrity stature.
Do your kids a favor: eat healthy, well-balanced meals, exercise regularly, and stop obsessing about your weight. They’re watching you – and even though they won’t admit it – they’re copying most everything you do.