Dieting Culture Among Children


Video vixens on music shows, adverts on TV, body shaming comments online and offline as well as the harsh judgement we pass to ourselves or those around us have affected our definition of beauty and the ideal body type. That notwithstanding, the comments made by adults about body size have been adopted by the kids; a case of monkey see, monkey do.   Unfortunately, this has resulted in the fat children being the joke of the school.  At this point, their esteem is low and all they desire is to change their physique in order to be accepted.  How they go about it may be questionable and this raises the concern of dieting among them.

The diet culture is often perceived as wellness or clean eating despite it hindering our innate ability to honour hunger and satiety.  Further, by promoting thinness as the ideal physique and defining food as either good or bad, has increasingly promoted eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa.

Identifying one is on a diet

  1. Cutting out a food group
  2. Eliminating your favorite food because it is perceived as bad
  3. Counting calories
  4. Intentionally skipping meals
  5. Ignoring hunger signals
  6. Doing a juice cleanse
  7. Buying and consuming supplements and protein shakes in place of food

Parents to children practising the aforementioned tactics to lose weight should be on the look out as dieting has its effects on their well-being.  As kids are continually growing any reduction in energy can result in interrupted growth. Also, their cognitive development is impaired and they tend to have nutritional deficiencies especially Iron and Calcium.  As for dieting girls, menstrual irregularity will be the order of the day.  Considering the risk factors in place, it is the role of parents and caregivers to ensure that their children are safe and healthy, away from the lose-weight quick mentality.

How to help your child

  1. Allow the child to grow into their weight since their bodies are frequently changing
  2. Involve them in meal planning and preparation
  3. Encourage your kid to listen to their hunger and satiety cues
  4. Eliminate any talk on weight and body size around your child
  5. Avoid making negative comments towards their body size or weight
  6. Model balanced eating habits and never forbid certain foods
  7. Focus on health over weight
  8. Promote an active lifestyle by limiting screen time
  9. Encourage family workout sessions

If these strategies are put in place, the process of self-acceptance and self-love becomes easier for the child. 

As adults, we have a responsibility to the young ones. The greatest of this is to direct their path of health and well-being.  If we can only shun body shaming and adopt a different perspective to body size then we can save our children from the diet craze.


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