July 19, 2017
For a child struggling with obesity, the issue of weight touches every aspect of life, including daily interactions at home, at school and in the wider social environment. Children with overweight or obesity are often mischaracterized as lazy or gluttonous and may be shamed or mocked by their peers or family members.
Conversely, peer groups and family members can have a tremendously positive influence in terms of helping to foster healthy lifestyles and self-esteem.
“Peers and family play an important role, and sometimes it can be a force for good, and sometimes it can make [childhood obesity] more difficult,” said Eleanor Mackey, PhD, a clinical psychologist who works with the Obesity Institute at Children’s National Health System in Washington, D.C. “Research shows that social support for exercising and eating healthily is important, and the more people a child has on their side, doing it with them and supporting them, the better off they’ll be.”