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When Your Kid Asks, "Am I Fat?"

Be honest: “Say ‘Well, according to your doctor, your body is overweight. He told us that it isn't healthy, so we need to work together to help you,’” says Garry Sigman, M.D., director of the pediatric weight management program at Loyola University Chicago. But also emphasize the bright side: “For some children you can say ‘Because you're still growing, it won't be hard—you won't have to lose weight, just be more careful about how much you are gaining,’” he advises.

How it played out in real families:

“I told my daughter, ‘No, you're adorable!’ Later, I talked to her about being healthy—what is good and bad for our bodies. I am trying to educate her on eating right. It's so important to be supportive and loving to our girls at this precious age!”

—Cari Andreani
Jacksonville, FL

“When I saw how upset my daughter was when her physician expressed concern about her weight, I told her, ‘Yes, you're overweight, and you're also very beautiful! You can be both!’ I also told her that if she wanted me to help her lose weight at some point, I would. Meanwhile, we go swimming together almost every day.”

—Robert Epstein
San Diego

“My daughter, who's a healthy weight, became worried after a school test mistakenly said her BMI [body mass index] was too high. I told her that her body is going through a lot of changes, and dieting would be very unhealthy. I said I'd buy her any healthy foods she wanted to eat, though, and she should keep exercising.”

—Laurie Gray
Fort Wayne, IN