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U of M study: Parents should talk to kids about healthy food – not weight

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Ever complain about your weight around your children – or subtly hint to them that they might get fat? University of Minnesota researchers warn: Take care with your words.

The researchers reported Monday that adolescents are less likely to try risky diet measures if their parents focused discussions on healthy eating and not on bodies and weight, the Star Tribune reports.

The U of M findings were published in the journal JAMA Pediatrics.

The bottom line: Peppering kids with judgmental statements, telling them that they are heavy – or might get heavy – puts them at a higher risk for experimenting with extreme diets, laxatives, fasting, and eating disorders. It's better to talk instead about how to eat healthy, the study concludes.

The researchers surveyed 2,800 racially and socioeconomically diverse middle and high school students and one or both parents about food, weight and the conversations they had about eating. Among the findings: Dieting and unhealthy eating patterns were more common among both normal-weight and overweight children of parents who focused conversations on weight, FOX News notes.

As any parent knows, talking to kids about food is tricky, but the U of M study suggests the stakes are even higher than parents might have thought, one Time magazine health blogger notes.

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