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Personal Trainers Say Families Often Work Against Children Trying to Lose Weight

Bethesda, MD—Have a teenager at risk of Type II diabetes? In planning your summer vacation, make sure that staying healthy is a project for the entire family.

That’s what trainers at Fitness Together say is required to help children who need to lose weight and get healthy.

“Families often unwittingly work against a child trying to lose weight,” says Rick Coe, a West Point grad and former Army officer who now owns Fitness Together gyms in Rockville, Bethesda, and soon Potomac. “We’ve seen teenagers who need to lose weight, yet the family still goes out for ice cream every night of vacation. That’s oppressive. When a parent keeps a child in an environment that reinforces his or her difficulties, it’s demoralizing for the kid.”

The key, says Coe, is to view personal fitness for kids as a family issue, rather than an individual concern. “Parents frequently consider an overweight child going to the gym as medicine,” Coe says. “More often it’s about the need for an entire lifestyle change—both for the child and the family.”

Positive changes begin at the grocery store. Overworked parents may buy unhealthy snacks out of a misguided belief these treats can make up for inattention or simply make their kids happy. But if it doesn’t go into the shopping cart, it won’t be consumed in the home.

In order to create a supportive environment, parents must first understand what is involved in living a healthy lifestyle, says Coe.

Some healthy tips: 

  • Parents, not children, should firmly control the refrigerator and meal times.
  • The gym is a full-family activity. If one child goes, everyone should go.
  • Encourage, encourage, encourage! Getting healthy can be one of the hardest things anyone ever does. “Remember,” Coe says, “It takes a whole family to make it happen!”

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