Children grow at different rates at different times. They, just like adults, come in all different shapes and sizes. What can parents do if they believe that their child’s weight is negatively impacting his or her health. First, don’t blame the child and expect them to take full responsibility. Dr. Yoni Freedhoff is an obesity expert, author of The Diet Fix and video blogger of the YouTube channel The Diet Fix: Why Diets Fail and How to Make Yours Work, says that talking with your child about his or her weight is like “lecturing passengers about where a car is going”. Adults struggle with weight loss and it is unrealistic to expect a child to manage their own diet. Parents are the ones that are responsible and the ones that need to make the changes. A long term solution is for parents and families as a whole to live a healthy lifestyle.

Don’t focus on the weight. Talking with your child about his or her weight is risky. It can lead to low self-esteem, poor body image or an unhealthy relationship with food.

Increase your family’s activity. Try to get out of the house and move around. Go for walks, bike rides or play games in the backyard.

Don’t force your child to do physical activities that they do no enjoy. Signing up your child for karate when they hate it can create a bad experience with physical activity and cause your child to dislike any physical activity.

Change what is available to eat at home. If there are whole food choices and less processed food choices, you can improve your family’s health.

Reduce eating out. Restaurant meals are more caloric than those made at home. Aim to eat out less than 3 times per month.

Reduce or eliminate caloric beverages, ie, juices, soda. Many children are drinking a large portion of their daily calories without knowing it.

Encourage a breakfast with protein. Eating regular meals helps your child stay satisfied and decreases the risk of your child wanting snacks or overeating later.

Cook meals together as a family and eat as a family. This creates a healthy relationship with food. I discourage parents from labeling foods as “good” or “bad”. We need food as a fuel source for our bodies.

Your goal is to encourage a healthy lifestyle and manage your child’s weight without highlighting that you are doing so. Remind yourself that we all have different body types and if your child is active and healthy and still heavy, then maybe they are just heavy. Of course, any concerns that your have about your child’s health should be addressed by your primary care provider. You will want to rule out any health issues, prior to making lifestyle and nutrition changes at home.

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