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Experts Say Talk To Your Daughter About 'Health' Not 'Weight' To Instill A Positive Body Image

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- A new study reveals what might be the best way to talk to your child about weight.

It found that commenting on a daughter's weight could have long-lasting impacts on her body image and her adult weight.

"I'm very happy with my body. I have a much healthier view than I used to," Dax Dupuy told CBS2's Vanessa Murdock.

Dupuy admits that years back she felt fat.

"My parents didn't contribute to that," she added.

That could be why Dupuy has a positive body image today, because her parents didn't discuss her weight.

Cornell University's Food and Brand Lab just released results of a nationwide survey of more than 500 women which found that the way parents speak to their daughters about weight matters.

If parents commented specifically on their daughters weight she was more likely to have a negative body image as an adult, and be overweight.

Comments about how much a child ate didn't have the same effect.

Jessica Colas read the study this morning, she said it will change the way she speaks to her daughters.

"Yeah it's definitely something to keep in mind," Colas said.

The bottom line according the the survey - don't discuss weight.

"We don't use the word fat or skinny in our house ever," therapist and parenting expert Tammy Gold said, "We've associate fat and skinny with good and bad, that's what our children have in their head."

Gold says it's time to break that cycle by using words like healthy and unhealthy, that change the conversation.

"Health is not about being big or small. Health is eating healthy foods and being strong," she said.

Gold suggested that if your child does have a weight problem, address it as it relates to his or her health.

"It isn't about wearing the right jeans. It strains your heart, you could be sicker down the line," she said, "If they're into sports I like to say when you eat specific foods they help enhance your performance."

Sharon Zarabi, nutritionist at Lenox Hill Hospital, said it's important to teach healthy eating habits early, make foods from the earth easily accessible, and looking good.

"When fruit is cut up and already in the refrigerator they can grab it," Zarabi said.

She said not to use food as a reward.

"When you give them all these candies, cookies, they might think they're healthy foods and become part of their normal meals," she said.

Always focus on healthy eating and a healthy lifestyle, and avoid the subject of weight it will give your kids a boost down the road.


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