I am often asked about how to raise children that have positive relationships with food and their bodies. One factor that comes to mind is to consider the messages your children receive about their body from their physician. I recently wrote a post about talking to teachers and coaches about weight-neutral and age appropriate approaches to nutrition and feeding children in school. This post got me thinking about what resources I have collected for pediatricians and that the information I give pediatricians is different than what I give teachers. Pediatric visits may not necessarily be able to be completely weight-neutral, but they can certainly do no harm.
In 2016, the American Academy of Pediatrics published a new statement stating that providers should not focus on weight when talking with young patients. The statement highlights the potential harm that can be caused when pediatricians focus on weight when talking with children and adolescents. However, it is standard practice for a well child visit at the pediatrician’s office to include a review of growth charts. Childhood is a time of growth and development and because of this a health assessment of a child can’t truly be as weight neutral as it can with an adult. It’s important for children’s weight and height to be monitored so that if something is interfering with growth and development it can be addressed, if needed. As parents, how can we advocate for our children to not be harmed by talk about weight and at the same time have these important vitals monitored as part of the health assessment?
Talk with your pediatrician about how weight is discussed in front of your child.
As a parent, I think it’s important to support my child in having a positive experience at the pediatrician’s office that does no harm and is free of diet talk. Of course, I’m supportive of each parent handling things how they are most comfortable. Something I have done, when my child reach a certain age, is ask my pediatrician to put a note in their chart to not review growth charts in front of the child. The first time I asked this of my pediatrician, she said “What’s wrong with your child’s weight?” I said, “Nothing is, and I don’t want her ever to think there is.” I asked her to give me the print …