This is Part 5 of my Puberty and Growth Series [Interview]
We live in a crazy world where food and weight are concerned. On the one hand, we hear about an obesity epidemic that researchers predict will only get worse. On the other hand, making weight the focus only exacerbates the issue. This leaves many parents confused and unsure about what to do.
Today’s guest Dianne Neumark-Sztainer, Ph.D., MPH, RD, has been studying the formation of eating habits in adolescents and young adults for many years. As principal investigator of Project EAT (Eating and Activity in Teens and Young Adults), her insights help us understand what we can do to help our child navigate their environment with success. Dianne Neumark-Sztainer is a professor in the School of Public Health’s Division of Epidemiology and Community Health at the University of Minnesota. Her research focuses on adolescent health, nutrition, obesity and eating disorder prevention, and she is the author of “I’m, Like, SO Fat!”: Helping Your Teen Make Healthy Choices about Eating and Exercise in a Weight-Obsessed World.
Highlights from the Show
- Why Dr. Neumark-Sztainer chose prevention as her focus and what continues to drive her work.
- Why parents need not blame themselves when problems arise but instead explore what their role should be given the complex environment in which we live.
- The vital importance of focusing on healthy habits versus weight in children.
- Why body satisfaction is so important in the development of health-sustaining habits and avoiding unnecessary weight gain.
- The four cornerstones for helping children build a positive body image associated with beneficial health outcomes.
- The difference between boys and girls development and how that affects how they feel about their body during the gradual transition to adulthood (and how they are watching how we treat/feel about our own body).
- Why restriction, dieting, and skipping meals is linked to weight gain and poor health outcomes in children.
- Why the stigma associated with weight leads to all the things we don’t want — body dissatisfaction, dieting, and unhealthy control practices.
- Why it’s so vital to address the emotional health of children, and how it relates to eating habits.
- The surprisingly easy strategy any parent can do to help their child eat a more nutritious diet.
- The role stress plays in overeating, activity, and general wellness and how mindfulness exercises like yoga can help (she has emerging research in this area).
Quote from the Show
Often, efforts by parents to help their child with weight can be counterproductive. They encourage that child to go on a diet or they talk about their own weight or they talk about other people’s weight. We have found that is not helpful. It predicts body dissatisfaction, it predicts disordered eating behaviors, and it’s a very strong predictor of significant weight gain over time. My advice is not to talk about weight, or keep that talk very, very minimal — Dianne Neumark Sztainer
Dr. Neumark-Sztainer at the University of Minnesota
“I’m, Like, SO Fat!”: Helping Your Teen Make Healthy Choices about Eating and Exercise in a Weight-Obsessed World.
Dr. Neumark-Szteiner’s studies
Podcast Music: Corporate Uplifting by Scott Holmes
Posts Included in the Series:
Intro: 6 Things About Puberty and Growth Every Parent Should Know
1. The Stages of Puberty: What Families Can Expect
2. How to Get Your Child Through Puberty Without Hating Their Growing Body
3. How to Normalize Sexual Development with Elizabeth Trejos-Castillo [Podcast]
4. Why Puberty is the Ideal Time to Invest in Bone Growth