While the childhood obesity rate has tripled in the U.S. since the 1970s, a new survey finds that parents would rather talk to their kids about almost any other topic before discussing weight.
The survey, jointly conducted by WedMD and nonprofit Sanford Health, found that parents are more comfortable talking about sex, drugs and alcohol with their teens than bringing up weight. For parents of 8-12 year olds, only sex is a more uncomfortable topic. Nineteen percent of parents surveyed said they believed weight was an issue for only doctors to discuss.
The fear of communication over the issue could come at the expense of kids, as doctors say talking to children about the risks of being overweight is one of the best ways to prevent obesity. However, WebMD says that simply setting a positive example for your children--implementing healthy eating choices and exercise into your day-to-day family life--is another way to combat the problem.
Eating out--where fried food choices and sugar-sweetened beverages on kids' menus are commonplace--can be part of the problem for many families, who often turn to restaurants due to time constraints. But some restaurants are now jumping in to make dining out less risky for health-conscious parents.
The company that owns the Olive Garden, Red Lobster and four other popular restaurant chains is pledging to reduce the calories and sodium in its meals and overhaul its kids' menu.
Drew Madsen, president of Darden Restaurants, tells The Associated Press he will make the announcement Thursday at one of its restaurants in a Maryland suburb of Washington.
The first lady, who is campaigning to reduce childhood obesity, will be on hand for support.
Madsen says the company will reduce calories and sodium by 20 percent over 10 years. It will also make a fruit or vegetable side and low-fat milk standard with kids' meals. If a child wants French fries or a sweetened drink, an adult will have to ask.
September is National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month.