More and more, childhood obesity is becoming prevalent in the U.S. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, over the past two decades it has doubled in children and tripled among teens.
Obesity during childhood is a serious matter that can lead to medical problems, including diabetes, asthma, sleep apnea and high blood pressure. Additionally, being overweight can also take an emotional toll on kids, leading to depression and low self-esteem brought on by various psychological stresses.
As a parent, you should play an important role in encouraging your child to make important changes to help them lose weight and overcome obesity. Ask your pediatrician for support in guiding your child toward an overall healthier lifestyle.
Incremental Lifestyle Changes Starting at Home
Kids who are overweight or obese need guidance from their parents to make healthier lifestyle choices. These changes start at home and include eating better and exercising. Involve the entire family in your child’s efforts to lose weight, supporting him by setting good examples and modeling healthy eating behaviors that you want him to adopt both now and into adulthood.
- Be a good role model, leading the way to a healthy lifestyle by eating healthy and staying active.
- Remove unhealthy temptations from the home and gradually introduce healthier foods into your child’s diet over a period of time.
- Prepare meals that are rich in vegetables, fruits and whole-grains, and limit consumption of foods high in sugar and saturated fats.
- Allow your child to participate in preparing the family meals to learn the benefits of cooking at home.
- Limit the amount of time your child can spend watching television playing video games or using the computer.
- Incorporate exercise into your child’s daily routine, which can include a wide range of activities such as walking the dog, raking leaves, swimming, playing tag or washing the car.
Talk to Your Pediatrician
Your child’s pediatrician can also play an important role in monitoring your child’s weight gain starting from age one, helping to make sure it remains within normal guidelines as he grows. If the pediatrician suspects a weight problem, they can discuss it with you and your child, and then help you prioritize the changes that need to be made to manage the child’s weight. Your pediatrician can work with you to help you set health goals and make the necessary lifestyle changes such as improving diet and becoming more physically active starting at home.