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Commenting On Your Child’s Weight Can Bring Terrible Results, Study Finds

Commenting On Your Child’s Weight Can Bring Terrible Results, Study Finds

Childhood obesity is a major problem currently facing our nation today. The statistics are staggering. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), in the past 30 years the obesity rate in children has doubled, and quadrupled in teens. The health risk associated with children who develop issues with their weight early are astronomical.

Most parents may not fully understand all of the health issues stemming from childhood obesity. But most are concerned with the overall well-being of their children and are aware that being overweight is unhealthy and carries consequences.

How a parent approaches this issue is of the utmost importance. So before telling your child that they are looking a little “thick” or “chunky,” here are a few things you may want to consider.

Dealing with a child’s weight can be a touchy subject

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    Should parents talk to an overweight or obese child about their weight? Or do they say nothing? Parents in this situation can really be torn. On one hand, if they do say something they run the risk of shaming a child, damaging their child’s self esteem and distorting his or her body image. This can lead to eating disorders, binge eating, depression and other psychologically damaging issues. On the other hand, if they choose to say nothing, they are missing an opportunity to help prevent their child from having potentially serious and long-term health problems.

    A new study offers this guidance: Don’t make comments about a child’s weight.

    Researchers did not distinguish between positive or negative comments in the study published in the journal Eating & Weight Disorders, because they found that any comment a child (especially girls) remembered hearing about their weight predicted a heavier body mass index and more overall dissatisfaction with their body type–even if weight was not an issue.

    Other studies have been able to link the critical comments of parents to an increased risk of obesity. One large government-funded study that followed thousands of 10-year-old girls found that, at the start of the study, nearly 60 percent of the girls said an adult close to them had told them they were “too fat.” By age 19, those who had been saddled with that label were more likely to be obese, regardless to whether or not they were actually overweight when they were 10.

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    In an interview with The Guardian, Dr. Rachel Rodgers, associate professor at the department of applied psychology at Northeastern University in Boston, put it this way:

    “Parents should avoid commenting on their children’s weight or appearance: that includes criticism, teasing, or even ‘positive’ statements. They should avoid encouraging their children to diet, or suggesting they need to lose weight. They should avoid ‘not allowing’ certain foods, telling their children that certain foods are ‘bad’ or trying to restrict their children’s diets.”

    Dr. Rodgers went on to convey the idea that in the minds of children weight and their physical appearance becomes associated with their self-worth and how they value themselves as a person.

    How to approach the issue of children, weight and your concerns

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    The U.S. Food and Drug Administration

      Experts suggest a more delicate and indirect approach when dealing with issues of children weight concerns and getting them to eat healthier.

      1. Model healthy eating

      Sit down and eat meals with your child whenever possible. When you are watching TV with them, prepare yourself (and them) a healthy snack. Model good portion control and how to stop eating once you’ve had enough

      2. Avoid rewarding and punishing with food

      Try to avoid labeling foods as good or bad. Find new ways to reward your children for good grades or other major accomplishments. Instead of going for ice cream, let them pick a fun activity to do. And in lieu of letting them pick the restaurant to celebrate, allow them to select the movie for movie night.

      3. Allow them to help you prepare meals

      Preparing healthy meals with your children is a great way to bond and model healthy alternatives. It is also a great way to discuss how to make healthy food choices.

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      4. Avoid dieting in front of them and refrain from suggesting that they go on a diet

      If you decide to go on a diet, you may not want to share the details with your children. Also, be careful how you frame your responses. Instead of saying you are dieting to fit into a dress or look better, you may want to tell them you are trying to adopt a healthier lifestyle.

      Featured photo credit: Jeri Johnson via stocksnap.io

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      Published on November 30, 2018

      Signs of Postnatal Depression And What to Do When It Strikes

      Signs of Postnatal Depression And What to Do When It Strikes

      Postpartum depression (PPD) strikes about 15% of women around childbirth.[1] Moreover, this mood disorder is estimated to affect 1% to 26% of new fathers.[2] The causes of which are thought to be linked to hormonal changes, genetics, previous mental illness and the obvious change in circumstance.

      The stigma of mental health – with or without support from family members and health professionals – often deters women from seeking help for their PPD. In this article, I will show you 10 ways to begin overcoming PPD.

      Symptoms of Postnatal Depression

      Postnatal depression is defined as depressive disorder, beginning anytime within pregnancy up to the first year of the child’s life. The symptoms of post natal depression are the same as those of depression. In order to receive a diagnosis from the doctor, 5 symptoms must be shown over a two week period. The symptoms and criteria are:

      • Feelings of sadness, emptiness, or hopelessness, nearly every day, for most of the day or the observation of a depressed mood made by others
      • Loss of interest or pleasure in activities
      • Weight loss or decreased appetite
      • Changes in sleep patterns
      • Feelings of restlessness
      • Loss of energy
      • Feelings of worthlessness or guilt
      • Loss of concentration or increased indecisiveness
      • Recurrent thoughts of death, with or without plans of suicide
      • Lack of interest or pleasure in usual activities
      • Low libido
      • Fatigue, decreased energy and motivation
      • Poor self-care
      • Social withdrawal
      • Insomnia or excessive sleep
      • Diminished ability to make decisions and think clearly
      • Lack of concentration and poor memory
      • Fear that you can not care for the baby or fear of the baby
      • Worry about harming self, baby, or partner

      Should you, a friend or your partner be showing any of these signs, I recommend you to seek medical advice.

      Causes of Post Natal Depression

      It is worth noting here that there is a difference between what is commonly known as ‘The Baby Blues’ and post natal depression.

      Postpartum blues, commonly known as “baby blues,” is a transient postpartum mood disorder characterized by milder depressive symptoms than postpartum depression. This type of depression can occur in up to 80% of all mothers following delivery. The Baby Blues should clear within 14 days, if not it is likely an indicator of something more in depth.

      It is not known exactly what causes post natal depression, however there are some correlating factors. These factors have a close correlation and haven’t been shown to cause PPD:

      • Prenatal depression or anxiety
      • A personal or family history of depression
      • Moderate to severe premenstrual symptoms
      • Stressful life events experienced during pregnancy
      • Maternity blues
      • Birth-related psychological trauma
      • Birth-related physical trauma
      • Previous stillbirth or miscarriage
      • Formula-feeding rather than breast-feeding
      • Cigarette smoking
      • Low self-esteem
      • Childcare or life stress
      • Low social support
      • Poor marital relationship or single marital status
      • Low socioeconomic status
      • Infant temperament problems/colic
      • Unplanned/unwanted pregnancy
      • Elevated prolactin levels
      • Oxytocin depletion

      One of the strongest predictors of paternal PPD is having a partner who has PPD, with fathers developing PPD 50% of the time when their female partner has PPD. [3]

      Ways to Overcome Post Natal Depression

      1. Seek Medical Help

      As knowledge of PPD grows, more and more physicians are becoming aware of the indicators and risk factors. This means that health care providers are looking for signs as early as their first prenatal care visit.

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      If you are at risk, letting your provider know early in your pregnancy means that you’ll be given extra support and care throughout the process. It is best to seek treatment as soon as possible.

      If it’s detected late or not at all, the condition may worsen. Experts have also found that children can be affected by a parent’s untreated PPD. Such children may be more prone to sleep disturbances, impaired cognitive development, insecurity, and frequent temper tantrums.

      2. Therapy

      This is the first line of defence against post natal depression and will commonly be prescribed alongside medication. Around 90% of post natal depression cases in women are treated with a combination of the two treatments.

      You don’t need to do anything special to prepare. Your counselor will ask questions about your life, and it’s important you answer honestly. You won’t be judged for what you tell, and whatever you talk about will be just between the two of you. Your counselor will teach you how to look at some things differently, and how to change certain habits to help yourself feel better.

      Therapy is personalized for everyone, but women in counselling for postpartum depression often discuss topics including; who you’re feeling, your behaviour, your actions and your life. (If you need immediate support please call the San Diego Access and Crisis Line at (888) 724-7240. The toll-free call is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.)

      3. Medication

      There have been a few studies of medications for treating PPD, however, the sample sizes were small, thus evidence is generally weak.

      Some evidence suggests that mothers with PPD will respond similarly to people with major depressive disorder. There is evidence which suggests that selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are effective treatment for PPD.

      However, a recent study has found that adding sertraline, an SSRI, to psychotherapy does not appear to confer any additional benefit. Therefore, it is not completely clear which antidepressants are most effective for treatment of PPD.

      There are currently no antidepressants that are FDA approved for use during lactation. Most antidepressants are excreted in breast milk. However, there are limited studies showing the effects and safety of these antidepressants on breastfed babies.

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      4. Communication with Partner

      Don’t blame yourself, your partner, close friends or relatives. Life is tough at this time, and tiredness and irritability can lead to quarrels.

      ‘Having a go’ at your partner can weaken your relationship when it needs to be at its strongest. It can be a huge relief to talk to someone understanding.

      By spending time with your partner doing activities that you both enjoy, like going for a walk, can really help. This change of state, from moving location, can significantly elevate mood whilst providing ‘neutral ground’ in which to open up communication.

      Be honest with your partner and show ways in which they can support you best through this time, even if it’s just talking or letting you have time to go take a shower.

      5. Self Care and Rest

      Don’t try to be ‘superwoman’. Try to do less and make sure that you don’t get over-tired. It’s common that women are the experts at ‘being busy’ and ‘doing it all’.

      Rest whilst the baby is sleeping, and really take time to prioritise yourself. Throughout life, if you’re constantly giving out energy, you will be left feeling unbalanced. It’s important to become aware of one’s energy and making sure to give yourself energy first, before giving out is imperative.

      Your body has just been through the trauma of the birth, which is very stressful. It therefore needs time to recover so taking time to yourself is important. Things as simple as a cup of tea, or shower or listening to music will really help.

      6. Supplementation (especially DHA)

      St John’s Wort is a herbal remedy available from chemists. There is evidence that it is effective in mild to moderate depression. It seems to work in much the same way as some antidepressants, but some people find that it has fewer side-effects.

      One problem is that St John’s Wort can interfere with the way other medications work. If you are taking other medication, you should discuss it with your doctor. This is very important if you are taking the oral contraceptive pill. St John’s Wort might stop your pill working. This can lead to an unplanned pregnancy.

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      It is also worth noting that fish oil (containing DHA) is being shown to correlate with lower instances of PPD. DHA consumption during pregnancy — at levels that are reasonably attained from foods — has the potential to decrease symptoms of postpartum depression,” conclude study researchers led by Michelle Price Judge, PhD, RD, a faculty member at the University of Connecticut School of Nursing.

      7. Movement

      Before starting any exercise program, you should consult with your doctor and find a fully qualified pre and post natal specialist. That being said, there is plenty of movement that can be done prior to ‘hitting the gym’, such as walking.

      Not only does being outside positively benefit you by getting some fresh air and vitamin D. The same is said for your baby, who will likely sleep better once they’ve been outside. Exercise gets your endorphins going, which helps alleviate depression symptoms, It can also get you focused on something for yourself. In an analysis of data from 1996 to 2016, researchers discovered that moms who stayed physically active after birth experienced fewer depressive symptoms.[4] In contrast, one study found women who led a more sedentary lifestyle were, in general, more likely to experience postpartum depression in the first place. [5]

      The type of workout doesn’t matter much. Yoga for pregnant women, stretching, and cardio are essentially equal in terms of making you feel better.

      8. Socializing and Support Groups

      Do go to local groups for new mothers or postnatal support groups. Your health visitor can tell you about groups in your area. You may not feel like going to these groups if your are depressed.

      See if someone can go with you. You may find the support of other new mothers helpful. You may find some women who feel the same way as you do.

      9. Accept Help

      Some cultures believe that the symptoms of postpartum depression or similar illnesses can be avoided through protective rituals in the period after birth. Chinese women participate in a ritual that is known as “doing the month” (confinement) in which they spend the first 30 days after giving birth resting in bed, while the mother or mother-in-law takes care of domestic duties and childcare.

      Whilst this may seem extreme, it’s worth noting that being able to accept help from your friends, partner and family can be extremely beneficial.

      10. Avoid Smoking, Drink and Drugs

      Which may seem common sense, however you may be tempted by the short term ‘fix’.

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      Don’t use alcohol or drugs. They may make you feel better for a short time, but it doesn’t last. Alcohol and drugs can make depression worse. They are also bad for your physical health.

      Final Thoughts

      Most women will get better without any treatment within 3 to 6 months. One in four mothers with PND are still depressed when their child is one-year-old. However, this can mean a lot of suffering.

      PND can spoil the experience of new motherhood. It can strain your relationship with your baby and partner. You may not look after your baby, or yourself, as well as you would when you are well.

      PND can affect your child’s development and behaviour even after the depression has ended. So the shorter it lasts, the better.

      Sometimes there is an obvious reason for PND, but not always. You may feel distressed, or guilty for feeling like this, as you expected to be happy about having a baby. However, PND can happen to anyone and it is not your fault.

      It’s never too late to seek help. Even if you have been depressed for a while, you can get better. The help you need depends on how severe your illness is. Mild PND can be helped by increased support from family and friends.

      Featured photo credit: Derek Thomson via unsplash.com

      Reference

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