Marla Ahlgrimm Weighs in on Matters of Body Image

Marla AhlgrimmAdolescent and teenage girls are the most at risk for suffering mental and physical health problems directly resulting from body image issues, says leading healthcare expert Marla Ahlgrimm. Here, the founder of Women’s Health America offers suggestions on how to approach weight issues with children.

Acknowledge that people come in all shapes and sizes.

According to Marla Ahlgrimm, the image of the “average body” portrayed on the media is way off the mark. Children need to understand that a “healthy weight” is a range, not a set size of designer jeans. Discussions about weight should not be limited to girls. Boys, too, should be taught to respect people for who they are, not how much they weigh.

Teach moderation and lead by example.

Focus on showing children that healthy lifestyle choices always trump fad diets and extreme weight loss. Marla Ahlgrimm suggests allowing kids to help prepare fresh, whole foods and teaching them how to read hunger cues. Children should be brought up understanding that treats aren’t off the table, but should be consumed in moderation.

Stay physically active.

Children mimic the lifestyles their parents model for them, says Marla Ahlgrimm. Get outdoors and enjoy the fresh air with the entire family. Walks around the neighborhood are a great way to not only bond with children but to instill in them a love of exercise.

Do not criticize a child’s weight.

Marla Ahlgrimm reports that body image issues start as early as ten years old, with nearly 8 out of 10 girls reporting having dieted by their first double digit birthday. Negative remarks about a child’s physical appearance is demeaning and can leave an emotional scar that never goes away. Instead, talk about all the amazing things the human body can do and how important each system is to overall health and wellness.

© 2019 Marla Ahlgrimm. All Rights Reserved.