Healthy Weight in Children

Monday, January 31, 2011

Okay, we waited until well after the holidays to write this blog so that people could enjoy their cookies, turkey, stuffing, and pumpkin pie. Now it’s time to talk about healthy weight, especially for children. Unfortunately, obesity is increasingly becoming a problem among our nation’s children. This trend is dangerous, and needs to be addressed sooner rather than later. Some children are already struggling with high cholesterol, diabetes, sore joints, and other issues that we once attributed to adults. Not only are there potential physical consequences, there can be emotional ones as well. Children who are overweight may be teased and excluded from other groups and activities. As anyone knows, emotional consequences can be as damaging as physical ones. Here are some tips we would like to offer to help keep your children at a healthy weight

1. First, check with your pediatrician to see what the healthy weight is for your child’s age and size. Plus it’s always better to rule out any possible physical cause if you notice your child is either gaining or losing weight.
2.You don’t have to call something a “diet”; just begin by eating healthier, or better yet, begin eating healthy as soon as your child is born. If you are able to do that, it will be the only thing the child knows, and they may be less picky when it comes to eating those pesky fruits and vegetables. This behavior is good for the entire family. Plus, you will be modeling appropriate eating habits that hopefully your child will pick-up on.
3.Increase your child’s activity. They don’t have to be playing video games or watching TV during every free moment. They don’t have to jog five miles either in order to stay healthy, but if there is just some activity every day, it will go a long way to keeping a child at a healthy weight. These activities can even be during every day errands. If you go to the store, park farther away and walk. Take the stairs when you can; housework and chores keep people active; play games with your children that require some kind of activity; walk the dog, etc. Again, these little changes will help the whole family (including the dog!).
4.If you’re currently trying to change your eating habits, start small if you have to; try water instead of soda, use fruits as a desert. Try introducing lower fat items into your menu.
5.Now, if you notice your child is eating in order to cope with depression or stressful situations, please seek assistance. Compulsive eating can be treated, but it needs to be taken seriously, and counseling and a more multidisciplinary approach may be needed to get to the root of the eating.
We’ve been discussing healthy eating habits as it relates to obesity, but please keep in mind that the number of younger children being treated for anorexia and bulimia is also on the rise. We want to send a message of health to our children, not body image or glamour. Just as with overeating, the anorexia and bulimia behaviors may also be coping mechanisms for a child. There may be underlying depression, or it may be the way in which they cope with stress or feeling out of control. Please seek the help of a professional if you suspect your child has any type of eating disorder. For more information, you may visit or

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