How to Lose Weight for Kids: Parents Are the Key
Even though it is partly due to the child’s body type, there is much that parents can do to help their children to manage their weight and the problems it causes.
You need to look at all the different things that might affect your child’s weight, such as what he is eating, how much he eats, how much exercise he gets, what food there is about the house and family eating patterns.
It is very important to avoid ‘diets’ to lose weight as they do not work and even if people lose weight, they are very likely to gain weight again when they stop the diet.
Try to help the child to change what he is doing, not to always be thinking about what he should or should not eat. You might think about changing the amount of activities he does.
- Exercise rather than limiting food intake is the best and safest way to become more healthy.
- People who only cut back on food lose some weight, but often this is due to muscle loss as well as fat loss, and the weight is put back on quickly.
- Regular exercise such as brisk walks daily, regular physical education classes or sport can lead to weight loss without muscle loss and improved health. Even if no weight is lost, this exercise makes the person fitter and healthier.
- Find out what exercise your child most enjoys and support him in doing that. This often works really well if you exercise with your child.
- Encourage your child to be involved in clubs and sports if he is old enough.
- Think of ways that your child can get more exercise in ordinary living, eg helping at home could be to take the dog for a walk instead of drying the dishes. Find ways of increasing energy use, such as using the stairs in shops instead of the escalators.
- If television watching or use of a computer is a problem you could have a diary with a certain number of watching hours a week that your child could choose to use up when he wanted to (within reason). Perhaps some extra time could be earned by active chores such as running errands or sweeping paths.
- It is a good idea to get some advice from a dietitian about how to manage weight and the best foods to provide for healthy eating.
- Teach children about healthy nutrition and suitable food choices.
- Remember that children are growing, so losing weight may not be best for them, it may be better to try to slow down their weight gain so it matches their growing.
- Set some small goals that your child can do well at and feel he is getting somewhere.
- Get help about healthy eating and living as a family. Long term weight loss may be possible when the whole family is involved and everybody changes the way they eat – and that is good for everybody.
- Change the way you shop and cook, eg don’t have a lot of fatty type snacks such as sweet biscuits and cake in the house.
- Children should not drink more than 1 serving per day of sweetened beverages, such as fruit juice, fruit drinks, regular-calorie soft drinks, sports drinks, energy drinks, sweetened or flavoured milk, or sweetened iced tea.
- Limit children’s fast-food consumption to no more than once per week.
- Eat meals together as often as possible, on most, and preferably all, days of the week.
Try to help the child to aim for being healthier rather than counting calories (or kilojoules).
Take care of yourself
If you also have a weight problem it helps children if they see you taking good care of yourself.
It is most important to keep up your child’s self esteem and not to let anyone tease him about his weight. Everyone is different and it is not only thin people who are attractive.
- Being overweight can expose children to being teased Bullying for ideas to deal with this).
- It is important not to label a child as fat, chubby, plump etc.
- Work on building the child’s self esteem – encourage the child in what she does well, let her know that you love and value and approve of her.
- Make sure the child has attractive and fashionable clothes.
- Try to ensure that the child is not made to feel bad by being in sports where she will always come last. Look for ways to exercise which are individual and where the child can succeed. Encourage her to play sports that she likes and does well at. Walking and bike riding as a family can be excellent exercise.