This article is looking at child obesity as the result of poor diet. Medical conditions resulting in child obesity, or the physical appearance of obesity, are issues to be discussed with your physician and beyond the scope of this article.
If you are concerned about your child possibly being overweight then you need to decide whether the excess weight is part of a growth pattern, that may change over time, or whether there is a weight problem. Your doctor will advise you on this. Child obesity can result in an increase in health problems. Don’t be embarrassed about seeking help, your doctor would rather treat child obesity or teen obesity now, than diabetes or heart disease later.
Statistics show that the level of child obesity in America is amongst the highest in the world, and a major cause is a diet of fast food, or food that is high in fat or sugar. Most children, with a change in diet and an increase in exercise, should see an improvement.
Look at the diet of your child. Is it mainly takeaways and processed food? These often contain high levels of fat, sugar and salt and should be cut back. Snacking is a bad habit, think of the calories in a candy bar! Fizzy drinks can also pile on the weight, when pure water is what the body really needs.
Every parent should try to implement the 5 A Day program. At first it may seem difficult to serve five portions of fruit and vegetables, never mind persuading your child to eat them, but if you study a list of suitable foods it is surprising how varied a diet you can provide. A glass of orange juice at breakfast, a banana mid- morning, beans or salad for lunch, fresh or frozen vegetables with dinner, dried fruit as a snack, the list is endless once you start looking. Having found the right food, the next problem is persuading your child to eat it . Try making small changes gradually altering the eating habits of the whole family. Unless a child is very overweight, maintaining the present weight without increasing it and letting the child grow to absorb the excess fat, is better than dramatic dieting. Ask your doctor about this as he can make a decision based on your child’s age and weight.
One idea worth considering is to appeal to your child’s consideration for others. Nowadays there is a lot of publicity given to world poverty and children are generally responsive to the needs of others. Get your child to add up how many dollars you spend monthly on expensive fast food, snacks and fizzy drinks, then consider spending that money on sponsoring a child. If your child feels he is helping to feed or educate another, it may well be the incentive needed. If you feel you cannot make such a commitment, why not just have a poverty jar, every time your child eats a piece of fruit instead of a candy bar, put a few cents into the jar and then let him/her chose which charity to give it to. But don’t make him feel guilty about others, anorexia isn’t healthy either!
The next thing to consider is increasing the amount of exercise your child takes and cutting the number of hours that television is watched. Overweight children find exercise difficult so start by increasing it slowly. Just walking a few hundred yards daily is a start. Your child may try to avoid exercise, but remember he may have been teased at school about being fat and failing to be athletic. As weight is lost, exercise will become easier and confidence increase, then he will become more willing to try new sports.
Finally remember that children need the support of the whole family if they is going to lose weight. If everyone follows a sensible diet your child is much more likely to succeed.