This question was proposed to me today. In which I said “no” you never tell a parent anything they don’t want to hear. Clearly you want the best for every kid and especially a friend’s kids whom you care about. But the backlash of critiquing one’s parenting choices might not be worth the worry.
I think the best thing to do in that situation is for the entire family to have a new healthy way of eating. You never want your kid on a “diet” where they feel bad or left out. So if the whole family eats well together then it will be the norm.
I remember when I was 16 and first diagnosed with diabetes my parents said “if you can’t eat sugar no one will – we will throw all the sugar out of the house” and that lasted about a week. And then there was ice-cream back in our freezer. Which was fine I was 16 and I understood.
But a small child would have a harder time grasping the idea that they were on a diet while mommy eats french fries. Or even worse their sibling gets cookies and they don’t.
I am very conscious of my eating style especially raising girls in L.A. – a city where a man told me it was good that Ila’s weight was in the 5% because skinny girls were hot (she was 6 months old at the time). I want them to grow up with a healthy relationship with food and body image. So it is hard to balance setting a good example and teaching your kids to eat well when you are so tired all you want to do is eat cereal for dinner.
So no you probably should not tell someone their kid is fat – leave that for the doctor. But you could lead by example.