NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Weight Watchers just released a program for teens.

With the obesity rate growing, what is the best way for parents to bring up the sensitive issue of weight with children?

Weight Watchers will open its weight loss program to teens across the country for free this summer with access to meal plans and coaches.

It’s being hailed as a step towards fighting childhood obesity, and introducing healthy living.

Marcial Ortega remembers feeling insecure as a teen. She was a bit overweight and turned to unhealthy habits to drop the pounds. She’s now the mother of an 8-year-old.

“When it comes to that touchy of a subject, I would sit my daughter down and say, ‘ya know, I’m not saying you have to change,” she said.

She wants to set a good example for her children.

“I would talk to her, tell her maybe we can do it together,” she said.

That’s exactly the method parenting expert Tammy Gold said moms and dads should employ. The subject of weight can often times trigger insecurity and eating disorders in kids.

“If you are going to get on your kids for eating poorly, you can’t be a hypocrite,” parenting expert Tammy Gold said, “With kids you can’t take away all of the sweets. Everything has to be about moderation.”

Teenagers go through a lot of changes during puberty, and kids can be mean. Bullying can lower self-esteem. The last thing a parent should do is add to that stress. Change the subject from weight to health.

“You want to take the whole vanity piece away. Focus on teens getting healthy, not getting skinnier, not vanity, not about how you look physically. Talk about protecting muscles if you fall, getting sicknesses like diabetes,” Gold said.

Getting into healthy habits at this critical life stage can have long lasting benefits.

Gold reminds parents not to label children according to size, refrain from using words like fat, skinny, or chunky to describe people.

  1. Gene Rey says:

    Golly gee wow! Will Oprah be hawking it? Oh wait—she getting “thicker” every day…never mind.

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