Is your child overweight? If so, he or she is not alone. Obesity is a growing concern for children and one that can lead to many serious health problems if it is not addressed early. For instance, childhood obesity is related to poor self-esteem, depression, liver problems and childhood diabetes, among other things. The effects of obesity can also follow children into adulthood, causing high blood pressure, heart disease and diabetes. Therefore, it is important to take steps now to help your child lose weight and learn how to make healthy eating choices.
- Understand the causes of your child's weight problem. Is it related to making poor food choices, ignoring portion control recommendations or having too sedentary a lifestyle? Often, the problem is a combination of those factors. It can also be a hereditary condition.
Look at your own eating choices. Children often follow your example, so make sure you are all eating well as a family.
Follow the USDA recommendations when it comes to food groups and portion control.
Structure mealtime and snack time in your house, so your child eats at predetermined times. This will help eliminate unhealthy snacking on high-fat foods.
Have low-fat snack options at hand. Instead of potato chips or packaged cookies, have vegetables and fruit cleaned and ready.
Help your child recognize when he or she is hungry and full, and encourage that he or she eat accordingly.
Get moving. Take on more activities that you can do as a family, so your children get used to exercise. For instance, you can all take a walk or a bike ride after dinner or go bowling instead of sitting around.
Limit time spent watching television or playing video games. Encourage your child to get outside and exercise regularly.
Set short-term diet and exercise goals for your child and work with him or her to meet them. Offer lots of enthusiasm and encouragement.
Reward your child periodically for meeting small goals. This can be important motivation for continued success.
Use this as an opportunity to counter media images of unrealistic body weight. You want to be sure your child doesn't't feel pressured to achieve unhealthy standards.
Teach your child that losing weight and exercising is not just about looking good on the outside, but also important to feeling good inside.