Healthy relationships + healthy behavior = fit children

Many people believe obesity can be cured with healthy eating and exercise. Obesity is not just about fixing bad behaviors, it is also about the happiness that comes from healthy relationships.

Obesity in both adults and children is usually caused by poor eating and exercise habits. But it could be that what people need is a strong and loving relationship to help them change their habits and reach their optimum health.

“Psychological factors also influence eating habits and obesity. Many people eat in response to negative emotions such as boredom, sadness, or anger. People who have difficulty with weight management may be facing more emotional and psychological issues,” according to

As an adult, I have been through emotional ups and downs for the last four years since I got married, marriage takes hard work. I have gained around 50 pounds. I cannot say that it was all about emotional issues and relationship issues but it was a very big part of it. Now, I am getting better with my emotional state because of the improved relationship I have with my husband. It is much easier to lose weight and be healthy when I feel happy. I have lost 10 pounds in a month because of a healthy relationship and healthy behavior; both eating and exercising.

Recognize the real issues

Children who are obese can feel boredom, sadness or anger. The most common sources of emotional and psychological issues for children and teens are work, relationships with boyfriends or girlfriends, school, social difficulties and stress in the family. All of these stressors can be helped in the home.

The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry said that, “poor eating habits, overeating or binging, lack of exercise (i.e., couch potato kids), family history of obesity, stressful life events or changes (separations, divorce, moves, deaths, abuse) ,family and peer problems, low self-esteem, depression or other emotional problems are the cause of obesity for children and adolescents.

Work on the real issues

We know so much about the first half of the reasons stated above, but the rest of them are often forgotten because they are actually harder to notice and treat. Most parents might think, “Helping my child eat healthy meals and making him exercise will solve the obesity issue.” However, that child might suffer from low self-esteem or depression which causes him to lack desire to do what his parents want him to do. He may have low self-worth, or a general lack of self-control over his appetite because of his emotional issues.

Don’t work backward

Fixing the behavior first will not always help the situation. If you can, fix the soul inside of the child and help them to actually do something about that situation rather than obeying just for her parents. Our relationship with God is a good example. God gave us commandments to follow because they are good for us, but he also gave us the doctrine to understand them, so we can motivate ourselves to act. AACAP said, “Lasting weight loss can only occur when there is self-motivation.”

Parents need to encourage children

“Parents of an obese child can improve their child’s self-esteem by emphasizing their strengths and positive qualities rather than just focusing on their weight problem,” according to the AACAP. You need to talk to your kids and spend quantity and quality time, be involved in their school life while not being intrusive parents. Then, you will know your child’s strengths and positive qualities and you’ll be able emphasize them. This will give your child more confidence and love.

As a family life educator, I like to see smiles on children’s faces and I like to tell them that they are precious and loved. Obesity isn’t just about overeating for long periods of time; it is about a lack of love and caring for a long time. Parents, think about the last time you were fully engaged with your child, when was it? Take some time to work on the real issues causing obesity. Your children need you.