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Talking to Kids About Childhood Obesity

Talking to Kids About Childhood Obesity – A University of Michigan study found that childhood obesity has tied drug abuse as the number one overall health concern parents have for children.

WebMd and Stanford Health conducted a survey, Raising Fit Kids, to ask parents what the most awkward conversations are to have with kids. What they found is that weight ranks higher in awkward conversations than sex, drugs, alcohol, and smoking.


Dr. Susan Bartell, a nationally recognized psychologist, provided me with this interview that discusses a recent survey regarding parent/child discussions as they relate to childhood obesity. While awkward, talking to kids about childhood obesity is extremely important.

Talking to Kids About Childhood Obesity

Lisa LaGrou Oakland County Moms – Why is talking to kids about childhood obesity so awkward?

Dr. Susan Bartell – There are a few different reasons. For one reason, parents think their kids are at a healthy weight, even if they’re not, so they avoid the conversation. Other parents are worried that if they even broach the topic, it might trigger an eating disorder. And some doctors think that parents are avoiding the conversation because they are overweight themselves so they are feeling awkward about talking with their kids about it.

Lisa LaGrou Oakland County Moms – So what are your tips then for starting this conversation?

Dr. Susan Bartell – You want to start talking about health rather than talking about weight. You really want to focus on, for example telling your child go out and play, you don’t want to focus on “exercise.” Keep the focus on play, let’s do something fun, let’s wash the car, let’s go pile up the leaves… You want to focus on sleep. Make sure your child is getting enough sleep. Make sure they are really destressing. Build in some downtime for them so they can recharge the next day. Parents can go to for great information on how to start the conversation with their kids, and also for the kids for how to start making these small changes that will get them excited about being healthy.

Lisa LaGrou Oakland County Moms – Some parents are probably very hesitant to let their children think they are anything less than perfect.  Is there some easier way or some tip you have for starting the conversation and easing their concerns about giving their child any kind of insecurity?

Dr. Susan Bartell – Well your goal is to focus on the whole child. To focus on making sure they know you accept and love them no matter who they are and what they look like. And so long as you focus on health rather than weight less and dieting, your child is going to start to feel that everything you are describing and talking about to them is good and if you do it as a family rather than focusing on one child alone, everyone will be on board and start to feel like they can make the changes.

Lisa LaGrou Oakland County Moms – And where can we go for more information for raising fit kids and talking to kids about childhood obesity?

Dr. Susan Bartell – Kids of all ages from 2-18 can go to And parents can begin the conversations with their child at and there’s lots of tips there for parents, too.

For more info on talking to kids about childhood obesity, visit

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