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Elizabeth Cooney is a health reporter for the Worcester Telegram & Gazette.
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Friday, May 4, 2007
Children's author takes kid-sized approach to weight loss
There's no shortage of weight loss books, but few are designed for children, Dr. David M. Ludwig thought. So he set out to condense lessons learned from the Optimal Weight for Life program at Children's Hospital Boston and put them between the covers of a new book.
"What works for adults won't necessarily work for kids, especially when there's conflict about food at home," he said in an interview. "We start with the right eating program, bring in the right amount of physical activity, and then we need the right parenting program."
"Ending the Food Fight" (Houghton Mifflin, $26), with recipes by dietitian Suzanne Rostler, spells out a nine-week program that favors a low-glycemic diet emphasizing high-quality food. Even young children can understand the difference between "fake" foods that are heavily processed and real foods without excess sugar and fat, Ludwig says.
Children's minds and bodies aren't designed for treadmill-like exercise, he said, but they will be active if they are encouraged to play outside or try dance or yoga.
As for parents, they need to shift from coercion to cooperation with their kids, modeling good food and activity choices in a fast-food, sedentary world.
"All too often parents try to take control of the situation, excessively restricting some foods or pushing kids to have other foods," he said. "Criticism, nagging, even punishment seem like they work in the short term, but they really don't over the long term."