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Tips To Help Your Kid Maintain A Healthy Weight
Published on March 9, 2022 and last updated for accuracy on August 12, 2022
Over the last two decades, the number of childhood obesity in the United States has continued to climb. Obesity in children has both acute and long-term health consequences.
Parents, guardians, and instructors can assist youngsters in maintaining a healthy weight by promoting healthy eating habits and limiting calorie-dense temptations. You should also encourage them to be physically active, limit their screen time, and get enough sleep.
The goal for overweight children is to slow down their weight gain while allowing them to grow and develop normally. Without the advice of a health care expert, you should not put children on a weight-loss diet.
Create good eating habits.
To assist children in the development of good eating habits,
- Vegetables, fruits, and whole-grain goods should be plentiful.
- Low-fat or non-fat milk, as well as dairy products like cheese and yogurt, should be included.
- Protein sources include lean meats, chicken, fish, lentils, and beans.
- Drink plenty of water with your family.
- They should avoid sugary beverages.
- They should consume sugar and saturated fat in moderation.
Remember that making minor adjustments daily can lead to success!
Limit your intake of calorie-dense foods.
Reducing the availability of high-fat, high-sugar, or salty snacks can aid in the development of healthy eating habits in your children. Allow your children to eat these meals only on rare occasions so that they are genuine treats! Here are some 100-calorie snacks that are simple to prepare and minimal in fat and sugar:
- Two tablespoons hummus and 1 cup carrots, broccoli, or bell peppers
- A medium banana or apple
- 1 cup grapes or blueberries
- A quarter-cup of tuna wrapped in a lettuce leaf
- A batch of oven-baked kale chips
Assist children in remaining active.
Regular physical activity provides many health benefits for children and is enjoyable.
- Bone strengthening
- Blood pressure reduction.
- It reduces anxiety and tension.
- Boosting self-esteem
- Assisting with weight loss.
Toddlers should be active throughout the day. Do at least 60 minutes of physical activity for children and adolescents aged 6 to 17. Include aerobic activity, defined as any activity that causes their hearts to beat quicker. Include bone-strengthening exercises like running or jumping.
It’s important to remember that youngsters imitate adults. Begin to incorporate physical activity into your daily routine, and urge your youngster to do the same.
Reduce the amount of time you spend sitting.
While the quiet time for reading and studying is excellent, youngsters should spend no more than 2 hours per day watching television, playing video games, or surfing the web. Furthermore, the American Academy of Pediatrics advises against watching television with children under two. Instead, encourage children to engage in more active activities with their families or own.
Make sure you get enough sleep.
Sleep deprivation is linked to obesity because it causes us to consume more and be less physically active. Children require more sleep than adults, and the amount needed varies according to age. See how much sleep is advised and how to improve your sleep habits.
Taking Care of Your Overweight Child
You can do a lot to assist your child reach and maintain a healthy weight as a parent or other caregiver. You may play an active part in helping your child—and your entire family—develop healthy behaviors. Your child must be active and consume nutritious foods and liquids.
I’m not sure how to discern if my child is overweight.
It’s not always easy to discern whether a youngster is overweight. Children develop at various speeds and at multiple times. In addition, the amount of body fat a child has varies with age and between girls and boys.
Body mass index (BMI) is a measurement of body weight about height. Calculating your child’s BMI is one approach to see if they are overweight (BMI). The BMI calculator employs a formula to get a score commonly used to determine whether a person is underweight, average weight, overweight, or obese. Children’s BMI is called “BMI-for-age” because it is age and sex-specific.
BMI-for-age is based on growth charts developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the United States. Doctors use these charts to keep track of a child’s development. The graphs utilize a percentile to show how your child’s BMI compares to the BMI of other children. For children and teenagers, the main BMI groups are:
- healthy weight: 5th to 84th percentile
- overweight: 85th to 94th percentile
- obese: 95th percentile or higher
What makes you think I should be concerned?
If your child is overweight, you should be concerned since being fat increases the odds of your child developing health problems now or later in life.
They may experience breathing difficulties or joint pain in the near term, making it challenging to keep up with friends. Some youngsters may acquire health issues such as type 2 diabetes, hypertension, and cholesterol. Teasing, bullying, sadness, and low self-esteem may also affect some children.
Children who are overweight are more likely to carry excess weight into adulthood. Adults who are overweight are more likely to acquire health problems such as heart disease and some types of cancer.
Body mass index (BMI) is a screening tool that does not directly evaluate body fat or a child’s risk of developing health concerns. Consult your child’s doctor or another health care expert if you are concerned about their weight. They can monitor your child’s overall health and growth over time and advise you on whether or not weight loss is beneficial. Many children still growing in length do not need to shed weight; instead, they may need to limit how much weight they gain as they grow taller. Practice a weight-loss regimen only if your child’s doctor recommends it.
What can I do to assist my child in developing healthy habits?
You may play a crucial part in assisting your child in developing healthy eating, drinking, physical activity, and sleeping habits. Teach your child, for example, how to balance the amount of food and liquids they consume with the amount of daily physical activity. Take your child grocery shopping and let them select healthy foods and beverages, and assist in the planning and preparation of healthy meals and snacks. The 2015 United States Dietary Guidelines outline the sorts of foods and drinks that should be included in a healthy diet.
Here are some other techniques to assist your child in the development of good habits:
- Set a positive example for your children. Choose nutritious foods and beverages, as well as active pursuits. Children are quick learners who frequently imitate what they see.
- Discuss what it means to be healthy and how to make healthy choices with your child.
- Discuss how physical activities and healthy meals and beverages can help their bodies become stronger and healthier.
- Children should engage in at least one hour of physical exercise per day (PDF, 14.2 MB) and restrict their screen time NIH (computers, television, and mobile devices) to no more than two hours per day outside of schoolwork. Allow them to do a walk or bike ride daily.
- Discuss how to make healthy food, drink, and activity choices at school, friends’ houses, and other locations outside of your home.
- Encourage everyone in the family to develop good eating, drinking, and physical activity habits. Everyone benefits and your overweight child will not feel singled out.
- Ensure that your youngster receives enough rest. While further research on the link between sleep and weight is needed, several studies have linked excess weight in children and adults to a lack of sleep. 1 The amount of sleep your child needs (222 KB) is determined by their age.
What can I do to help my child improve their eating habits?
In addition to consuming fewer high-calorie, high-fat, high-sugar, and high-salt foods, drinks, and snacks, you may encourage your child to eat healthily by providing these options more frequently:
- fruits, vegetables, and whole grains such as brown rice
- lean meats, poultry, seafood, beans and peas, soy products, and eggs, instead of meat high in fat
- fat-free or low-fat milk and milk products or milk substitutes, such as soy beverages with added calcium and vitamin D, instead of whole milk or cream
- fruit and vegetable smoothies made with fat-free or low-fat yogurt, instead of milkshakes or ice cream
- water, fat-free, or low-fat milk, instead of soda and other drinks with added sugars
You can also assist your youngster in eating better by attempting to:
- Limit the amount of food or liquids your youngster chooses for a meal or snack by serving prominent NIH external links. Begin with tiny portions and allow your youngster to request more if still hungry. If your child picks food or drinks from a package, container, or can, check the Nutrition Facts Label (PDF, 753 KB) to learn how much is one serving. To eliminate excess calories, fat, and sugar, match your child’s amount to the serving size specified on the label.
- Put healthful foods and beverages in plain sight, and keep high-calorie meals and drinks hidden—or don’t buy them at all.
- Consume fast food in moderation. If you do go to a fast-food establishment, urge your child to get sliced fruit instead of fries as a healthier option. Introduce your toddler to various foods, such as hummus and vegetables.
- Sit down for family dinners as much as possible, and eat fewer “on-the-go” meals.
- Avoid eating while watching television, using a computer, or using any other electronic device.
To assist your child in developing a positive attitude toward food and eating, follow these steps:
- Don’t make your child clean their plate.
- Offer rewards other than food or drinks when encouraging your child to practice healthy habits. Good dessert for eating vegetables conveys that vegetables are less valuable than dessert.
Suggestions for healthy snacks
Try these healthier snack options instead of candy, cookies, and other unhealthy snacks to help your child consume less candy, cookies, and other harmful snacks:
- air-popped popcorn without butter
- fresh, frozen, or fruit canned in natural juices, plain or with fat
- free or low-fat yogurt
- fresh vegetables, such as baby carrots, cucumbers, zucchini, or cherry tomatoes
- low-sugar, whole-grain cereal with fat-free or low-fat milk, or a milk substitute with added calcium and vitamin D
What can I do to encourage my child to be more active?
Make physical activity enjoyable for your youngster. Children require approximately 60 minutes of physical activity every day, though this does not have to be done all at once. Several small 10- to 5-minute bursts of movement throughout the day are just as beneficial. If your youngster isn’t used to being active, begin cautiously and gradually increase to 60 minutes per day.
To encourage everyday physical activity, try the following:
- Allow your child to pick a preferred activity to participate in regularly, such as climbing a jungle gym at the playground or joining a sports team or dance class.
- Playing tag, jumping rope, playing catch, shooting hoops, or riding a bike are all simple, exciting activities that your child may perform at home or on their own (wear a helmet).
- Spend no more than 2 hours a day on the internet, television, mobile phone, or other electronic devices.
- Allow your child and other family members to organize active trips, such as a walk or trek to a favorite location.
Where can I get assistance?
Ask your kid’s health care expert about additional possibilities if you have tried to change your family’s eating, drinking, physical activity, and sleep habits and your child has not achieved a healthy weight. They may be able to suggest a healthy food and exercise plan or refer you to a weight-loss specialist, registered dietician, or program. Weight-management programs for children and teens may be available through your local hospital, community health clinic, or health department, or you may be able to find out where you may enroll.
What qualities should I seek in a weight-loss program?
When selecting a weight-loss program for your child, seek one that focuses on your child’s specific needs.
It has several healthcare professionals on staff, including doctors, psychologists, and certified dietitians.
- Before and during the program, your child’s weight, growth, and health are assessed.
- Changes according to your child’s age and ability. Children in elementary school should have distinct programs than teenagers.
- Assists your family in maintaining healthy eating, drinking, and physical activity habits after the program is completed.
What else can I do to assist my child?
Assist your child in setting clear goals and keeping track of their progress. You may assist your child by remaining positive and supportive throughout any method or program you use to help them loses weight. You should give praise and hugs to those who achieve accomplishment.
Tell your youngster that they are memorable, cherished, and valued. Children’s self-perceptions are frequently shaped by their perceptions of their parents and other caregivers.
Pay attention to your child’s weight-related issues. They require adult support, understanding, and encouragement.
What are clinical trials, and how do kids get involved in research?
Clinical trials are research investigations in which participants of all ages participate. They explore innovative ways to prevent, detect, and treat diseases. Researchers also use clinical trials to investigate other aspects of care, such as enhancing the quality of life. Children’s research is beneficial to scientists.
- identify care that is best for a child
- find the best dose of medicines
- find treatments for conditions that only affect children
- treat conditions that behave differently in children
- understand how treatment affects a growing child’s body
By balancing what your child consumes with physical activity, you can help them maintain a healthy weight. The following are five of the most effective techniques to assist your child in maintaining a healthy weight:
- Avoid sugary beverages. They’re high in calories and have little nutritional value. People who consume sugary drinks regularly are more likely to be overweight. Most people prefer water or low-fat milk.
- Get some exercise. Physical activity burns calories and builds muscle, all of which help you look and feel better while also helping you lose weight. Increase the intensity of your workout and include some strength workouts to build muscle if you want to burn more calories. Walking the family dog, cycling to school, and other activities that improve your daily activity level can help.
- Limit your screen time. Obesity is more common among people who spend many time in front of screens. Set realistic time limitations for watching TV, playing video games, and using computers, phones, and tablets for purposes other than schoolwork. Turn off all screens at least one hour before bedtime to obtain enough sleep.
- Keep an eye on portion sizes. If you’re eating out, split an entrée or reserve half of your meal to take home.
- Consume five servings of fruits and vegetables every day. There’s more to fruits and vegetables than vitamins and minerals. They’re also high in fiber, so they’ll keep you full. You’re also less prone to overeat when you consume fruits and vegetables. Furthermore, getting active and creating nutritious meals with your family are excellent ways to spend valuable time together.