The rates of childhood obesity have tripled in the past 3 decades. Today, 1 in 3 American kids are overweight or obese. Our changes in lifestyle have led to this sad epidemic. We’re eating food on the run in lieu of sitting as a family for a home-cooked meal. Video games have replaced exercise, PE has been reduced at schools to 2 or 3 times a week, and portion sizes have tripled.
Children are now facing serious health issues that, in the past, were primarily associated with adults. These health risks include: asthma, diabetes, high blood pressure, sleep problems, heart disease, and more! That’s a big burden for a child to deal with. Parents of overweight children are often frustrated and searching for answers.
The first step to helping your overweight child is to make an appointment with your child’s pediatrician for a check-up. It’s important to find out if they are clinically obese and if there are any underlying health issues. Then, follow these guidelines:
*MAKE THEM FEEL LOVED: Above all, make them feel loved no matter what size they are. Their self- esteem is often lacking and they feel stressed and anxious.
*EDUCATE: Teach your child about proper nutrition, how to read labels, and even how to cook. Explain the importance of exercising every day.
*INVOLVE THE WHOLE FAMILY: When a family member has a chronic illness, it affects the entire family. Likewise, if one of the kids is obese the family is impacted. Everyone needs to be encouraging, supportive, and eat home-cooked meals together. Challenge the whole family to eat healthy in order to set a good example.
*NUTRITION: Ensure they eat breakfast every day, drink lots of water, refrain from sugary drinks, limit sweets, and consume sufficient protein.
*EXERCISE: Encourage your child to fit in60 minutes of moderate intensity activities every day. Participate as a family:
*Sign up for a Family-friendly 5K race/walk
*Take the family on vacations where they can hike, ski, climb, or swim
*Sign your child up for a sport
*Take fitness/dance classes together
*LIMIT ELECTRONICS: Use electronics as positive reinforcement after they’ve completed their homework and gotten some exercise. The American Academy of Pediatrics suggests no more than 2 hours a day for electronics (TV, IPAD, computer, etc…). Studies have shown that children with TV’s in their bedrooms are more likely to be obese.
As a parent you have the responsibility of setting a good example for your kids by eating healthy and exercising regularly. Help them lead a healthy, active lifestyle and provide them with love and support.
For more support and advice on helping your overweight child, listen to Dr. Clark’s podcast interview with Childhood Obesity specialist, Dr. Wendy Sinclair at: http://cfwls.com/blog/bouncing-back-from-childhood-obesity/