Study: Children as Young as 5 Worried About Weight - Philadelphia News, Weather and Sports from WTXF FOX 29

Study: Children as Young as 5 Worried About Weight

Posted: Updated:

A startling new study shows some disturbing trends about young children and their weight.

The study is out of Ireland, and it says that kids as young as five are worried about looking fat in their swimsuits. 

That in turn puts them at greater risk of having an eating disorder. 

One expert we talked to says it's not just Ireland-- the same thing is happening here.

In a perfect world, childhood should be carefree, where the biggest concern is whether to jump on a swing or head to the monkey bars-- not which diet will work best. 

But more and more, often even very young children, are focusing on their weight. 

Dena Gillis, a mother visiting Philadelphia from Washington, D.C., told FOX 29 it happened to her daughter. 

"I was trying to get her to finish her dinner, and she said I don't want to eat too much, I don't want to get fat," Gillis said. 

"So I was just shocked, I didn't realize that at her age, she was six at the time, that she would be concerned about that."

Experts blame images like magazine covers that glorify weight loss and show perfect bodies, the kind of ideal few of us will ever attain. 

The underlying message: look like them and your life will be better. Dr. Rebecca Walter, a psychologist at the Renfrew Center, which specializes in eating disorders, told FOX 29, "If you hear your child say 'I need to diet, I'm getting too fat,' I think it's useful for parents to be curious." 

Dr. Walter suggested that parents ask, "What makes you say that?"
    

Part of the problem may also be parents themselves, who perhaps are too focused on their own weight and unknowingly passing that anxiety along to their children. 

Tom Heine, a father of five from Haddonfield, New Jersey, says he's careful to put the focus elsewhere. 

"You focus on other things in life," Heine explained.  "You focus on things like school and sports and how they can be good kids, and not focus on things that pertain to diet and weight and things like that."

And if your child is worried about his or her weight, you don't want to give the typical adult advice to go on a diet. 

"If a child is saying that," Dr. Walter said, "then most likely there are other things going on, in terms of not feeling so good about herself."

It can be tricky territory, especially when we're fighting an obesity epidemic in this country.  Experts say parents should focus on healthy eating, and being active.  And try to limit kids' exposure to TV shows and other media that focus too much on body image.  You want to try to protect them from that for as long as possible.

  • Local NewsMore>>

  • Only On Fox: Arsonist On The Loose In South Jersey Town

    Only On Fox: Arsonist On The Loose In South Jersey Town

    Wednesday, April 16 2014 4:45 PM EDT2014-04-16 20:45:07 GMT
    It started with a brush fire, then another fire at the rear of this home on Monroe Street and finally a blaze that swept through this vacant home up the block, just a few feet away from where Emma Sethman
    It started with a brush fire, then another fire at the rear of this home on Monroe Street and finally a blaze that swept through this vacant home up the block, just a few feet away from where Emma Sethman
  • 1 Injured After Skydiving Accident In New Jersey

    1 Injured After Skydiving Accident In New Jersey

    1 Injured After Skydiving Accident In New Jersey

    Sunday, April 20 2014 4:46 PM EDT2014-04-20 20:46:17 GMT
    A person was injuredafter askydiving accident in Gloucester, Washington Township on Sunday afternoon.Police say the parachute did not open. The person landed on Tuckahoe Road right across from the United Artists movie theatre, which is about a half mile from Cross Keys Airport.Police are currently on the scene still investigating.Stay with Fox 29 for any updates on this story.
    A person was injuredafter askydiving accident in Gloucester, Washington Township on Sunday afternoon.Police say the parachute did not open. The person landed on Tuckahoe Road right across from the United Artists movie theatre, which is about a half mile from Cross Keys Airport.Police are currently on the scene still investigating.Stay with Fox 29 for any updates on this story.
  • Police Search For Man In Collingdale Hit-And-Run

    Police Search For Man In Collingdale Hit-And-Run

    Sunday, April 20 2014 4:44 PM EDT2014-04-20 20:44:03 GMT
    A man was struck by a SUV in Collingdale early Saturday morning. Police responded to reports of a hit and run on the 900 block of Bedford Avenue around 5:30 a.m. Upon arrival, they found a Range Rover crashed into a Chrysler 300 and a man was also laying the lawn of 919 Bedford Avenue covered in blood. The victim was transported to Crozer Chester Medical Center. He is in surgery with severe head and severe lower b...
    A man was struck by a SUV in Collingdale early Saturday morning. Police responded to reports of a hit and run on the 900 block of Bedford Avenue around 5:30 a.m. Upon arrival, they found a Range Rover crashed into a Chrysler 300 and a man was also laying the lawn of 919 Bedford Avenue covered in blood. The victim was transported to Crozer Chester Medical Center. He is in surgery with severe head and severe lower b...
Powered by WorldNow

WTXF-TV
330 Market Street
Philadelphia, PA 19106-2796

Phone: (215) 925-2929
Fax: (215) 982-5494

Didn't find what you were looking for?
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Fox Television Stations, Inc. and Worldnow. All Rights Reserved.
Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Ad Choices