Book Review: Your Child’s Weight: Helping Without Harming

by Maryann Tomovich Jacobsen, MS, RD on July 23, 2009

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Parents today are inundated with childhood obesity statistics. We are told that if our children are big they are likely to be overweight as adults. We are told that children are more overweight today than ever before in history. It’s no wonder that parents become anxious when their child starts moving up the growth chart. I mean, a parent cannot just will their child to be slender. Or can they?

My favorite childhood nutrition expert, Ellyn Satter, MS, RD, LCSW, provides parents with much-needed guidance in her book Your Child’s Weight: Helping without Harming. Like all her books, Satter focuses on the Division of Responsibility of feeding – adults are responsible for the when, what and where of feeding and children are responsible for the whether and how much of eating. She says that in order to help your child arrive at a weight that’s right for him or her, you need to focus on providing, not depriving. With many real life examples, she shows how depriving children backfires and can set them up for life-long weight struggles.

Satter discusses appropriate food selection, the importance of family dinners, physical activity and how parents can optimize feeding at each stage of growth – from birth through adolescence. No matter how many times I read her books, I am always amazed how simplistic and ingenious her feeding advice is. After working with overweight adults for years, I’ve witnessed firsthand how parental feeding strategies contribute to weight problems in adults.

But don’t expect the typical diet and healthy eating advice from this book. Instead, Satter gets to the heart of what causes children to balloon to weights nature did not intend for them.

This is a must read for anyone with a family history of excess weight or obesity.

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