My daughter is five and already some of her little friends are worried they’re fat. It’s heartbreaking that amongst their thoughts about fairies and Smiggle gel pens are concepts like ‘diet’ and ‘detox’.
My daughter’s peer group is far from unique. 41 per cent of children are worried about how they look and 80 per cent of 10-year-old girls have been on a diet.
Weight loss dieting in children is dangerous. Girls who start dieting before the age of 15 are more likely than their non-dieting peers to experience depression, binge eating and purging. Dieters are also at risk of micro-nutrient deficiencies, loss of muscle and bone mass, and a slowed metabolism which can, ironically, lead to weight gain.
In a culture that champions weight loss dieting as the holy path to redemption, teaching our kids to have a healthy relationship with food and their bodies can seem a Herculean task. But there are some things we can do to minimise the chances of our kids boarding the life-long diet train.