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Health and weight (young people)

Advice from parents to other parents and health professionals

Messages for other parents
 
  • If you want your child to lose weight or you are concerned about your child’s weight, ask questions of healthcare professionals until you get action. 
  • Focus on your needs and your child’s needs.
  • Get as informed as you can. You can get a huge amount of information from online forums.
  • Have a healthy balanced diet yourself. Introduce children to a variety of food.
  • Cook from scratch using raw ingredients and teach your child how to use a kitchen and to be self-sufficient.
  • Get help if you feel you need it.
 
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Dee says parents should be honest with themselves about where they are going wrong and be ready...

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Age at interview: 47
Sex: Female
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I think they need to be honest really, I think honesty is important. I think you need to really look at where, as a parent, you might be going wrong, where you might be actually contributing to the child eating too much. You need to also try and understand the child as well, I would say try and understand their thinking and where they’re at with it all, and get help, you know, get help and I would say try and do it, you know, definitely whilst the child is young, don’t wait for them to get… you know… as soon as you recognise there is an issue, deal with it, as it were, don’t leave it, you know, because it just gets worse and worse as they get older. 
 
So I would say go and get the help early and, and be honest. Yes, honesty pays you know, because I think we have got a lot as a parent, we have got a lot to answer for, as well because, you know, the kids, they’re our kids - they’re nobody else’s children - they’re our kids and that, and when they’re very little they don’t choose what they eat, we choose it for them, we do all the sort of, you know, and so if we’re making the wrong decisions it will have an effect later on, so we do need to bear all those things in mind.
 

Sue thinks parents need to take more responsibility to help their children lose weight and...

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Age at interview: 45
Sex: Female
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Do you have any messages for other parents in your situation?
 
Yes, get informed. Start looking, the things that I have I mean I can put some stuff together for you for the, the hints and tips about, you know, about eating out and the tall glass, smaller bowls, like when you have a snack put the snack into the bowl rather than taking the packet out with you, you’ll eat less. Things like that, that, you know, we have an influence on our children, we have a big influence on our children, if you’re going to give your child, if your child is going to have a packet of crisps and there’s nothing wrong with a packet of crisps, depending on the crisps, occasionally there’s nothing wrong with that, as a stable diet obviously not good. But, you know, occasionally there’s no food that’s bad so if they’re going to have some crisps, you know, put half the packet into a bowl tie up the rest of the packet and put it in the cupboard, they probably won’t come back for anymore but if you give them the packet they’ll eat the lot. It’s things like that; I can give you loads of tips on things like that, loads of stuff like that.
 
Little things like just adding a little bit to their daily exercise and the parents, sorry but the parents are going to have to do it, you’re going to have to get off your bum, you know, unless you’re going to pay somebody else to walk your child like a dog, you’ll have to do something and, you know, if they are sociophobic you’re not going to get them in a class and even if they did, you know, look at my daughter joining the hockey team as the goalie, I mean talk about shooting yourself in the foot, it’s just, at least she’s standing on the spot [laughs] but it is about that, you know, it’s about actually putting some effort into it you need to do that, you need to get informed.
 
There are a lot of groups out there, forums and things out there you can get a huge amount of information from forums, that’s most of the research that I did, I backed up the stuff from forums because they’re real people, they’ve done this they’ve been on the diets they’ve been on the different programmes they know what works they know what’s good they know what’s bad, you hear it in their own words, you don’t get better than that. I mean I think the web is a fantastic, just for forums, you can find out the real world just there, forget the professionals, yeah they’ll give you their outline but then you go and look at the forums and see whether actually that works because that is just so true. Forums are fantastic, you can be anonymous, it doesn’t even have to reflect your name, you can say what you want to say, you can ask stupid questions, actually not that stupid, you ask the stupid questions, if you leave it you could leave it too long at the end of the day, when you become a parent you take on responsibility and you are the parent so become the parent, be the parent. The worst that’s going to happen is that you will fail, at least you will try, to do nothing is just unforgivable, it really is.
Messages for health professionals
 
  • More information and advice should be available to parents on how to help their children manage their weight.
  • Dietitians should give individual tailored advice and information and not give the same diet sheets to everyone because it won’t work.
  • Health professionals need to identify weight problems earlier and work with the child and the family.
  • Doctors need to be sensitive. If a child has weight problems arrange to talk to the parents alone.
  • Health professionals shouldn't have pre-conceived ideas and stereotypes in mind when treating different families and children. Everyone is an individual and your approach needs to be tailored to their individual needs. 
 

Provide specialist support for parents for children’s weight management before they reach the teenage years and give the issue greater priority.

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Age at interview: 44
Sex: Male
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I would love there to be much more assistance for parents at a far earlier age probably as early as… there’s a big gap in the healthcare field. You have a child, you have your midwife who comes round, you have a healthcare professional who pops in for a couple of years until the age of five. And then everyone disappears until there’s a problem which manifests itself or the parent is willing or able to go to the healthcare professionals and look for advice. 
 
I think a) sit up and take action because not enough is being done for children. There is not enough informative documents or information available to parents to be able to assist them in controlling their child’s weight management. And there isn’t enough assistance particularly from GPs, which is always the first call to be able to do something about it. And I think that if there was some form of club or child obesity clinic before they reached the teenage years available in regions if nothing else, then it would have a huge impact on the child and the parent’s ability to control their weight loss.
 
The problem that we’ve found is that no one is willing or I say been willing until now to see the weight management as a really serious issue a) probably because I don’t think there’s anywhere in Britain that I’m aware of that actually does anything about it. And there doesn’t seem to be a great deal of information apart from a few leaflets. And unless the healthcare [system] takes weight control much more seriously in children I don’t think anything is going to happen because it’s just pushed to one side and seen as a minor issue that parents have to control. And unfortunately there aren’t enough parents who are willing to do that and I don’t think there are enough parents who are able to do that because there isn’t any information to help them. 
 
 

GPs should take more notice of children's weight during routine consultations.

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Age at interview: 49
Sex: Female
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I suppose maybe it would be nice if when you do visit a doctor with your child or something they had the time, to be able to ask you more general things about your child. I mean you tend to only go and see the doctor when somebody is ill. And you know, it tends to be about a specific problem and I’m not sure I don’t know, I can’t say that for a fact, but I’m not sure if I took had taken my son in with, with let’s say a sore throat the doctor would deal with that, but I don’t know if he would kind of look and say, “Well by the way - what’s your diet like?” And notice that there might be an issue with something else, you know. So it would be nice if they could look at the bigger picture I think.  
 

Don't have preconceived ideas and stereotypes in mind when you try to treat different families and children; everyone is an individual.

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Age at interview: 47
Sex: Female
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And what sort of messages would you give health professionals?
 
Well, I think, you know, to try and to try and understand, I think it’s actually trying to work with where the young person, and where people are at and trying to sort of really understand their situation and understand kind of what’s going to work for them and that’s going to be a very individual thing, it’s not going to be the same for everybody. So certainly sort of a dietitian giving everybody the same diet sheets or whatever, or get them, it’s not going to work for every child, as it were, you need to understand and, you know, the psychologist or whoever it is, I don’t know, that they see, you know, you need to understand where the other person, where that family is at and try and work with that family at their level and that. And sort of taking away, as we were saying, sort of like the ethnicity and the class, you know, try and not have the pre-conceived ideas and judgements and stereotypes and all those sorts of things and just see a family as an individual and the children as individuals and their situation as unique and deal with it that way.
 
So what recommendations would you make or suggest to services?
 
Ooh, suggestions for the services. I suppose it’s that, isn’t it? I suppose it’s identifying the problems early, working with the families, sort of in a very individual sort of unique sort of way and trying to sort of help the families and the young people and everything, set goals and targets and that sort of thing but it’s getting into it earlier rather than later, as it were.
 

Take more responsibility and provide hands-on help.

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Age at interview: 45
Sex: Female
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Health care professionals, it is your responsibility. I don’t care which part of health care you’re in, it is your responsibility so take some responsibility, stop passing the buck. Do what you can do, I know you can’t do everything just like I can’t do everything, but you can do a bit, you can get together with other like-minded people, which is what I’m going to do I’m just thinking through as I’m talking to you here, I’m just thinking okay, alright I’m just going to do it whatever, it’s going to have to happen because we’re going to have to do something, get together with other like-minded people and do something about it, but take responsibility. You know, if you’re a health care professional then be professional what you’re seeing in front of you because it’s not just me. Little booklets don’t help, they don’t help, you know, hands-on help, someone standing there talking to these people about their specific problem.
 

Make sure young people know about local activities that might be helpful to them.

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Age at interview: 49
Sex: Female
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I don’t think there’s enough, whatever activities, playgrounds, anything it all seems to be the other side of [the city]. There just doesn’t seem to be an awful lot going on round here, you know, for that age group. “You mentioned, oh where’s that?” “Oh it’s the other side of [the city]” or it’s [another city] or, you know, I don’t know [our city] seems to get missed out, or there’s not enough information maybe, maybe I just don’t know about all these places, there’s just not enough going on, like this dancing club shut down and so that’s it. You know, unless you travel miles or, you know, there’s just, there doesn’t seem to be enough. There is another one actually and I’ve tried to get her to go to that but she just won’t go because it’s not disco dancing which she loves doing. But I don’t think there’s enough information goes round somehow [informing] what goes on.
 
What would be the best way of getting that information out?
 
I don’t really know. I’m just thinking, maybe a newsletter to all 16-21 year olds or something or 14-21. Some kind of newsletter or once a month or every two months or something, you know, what’s on, what’s happening, where, activities.

Last reviewed July 2017.

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