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Old 02-23-2009, 11:46 AM   #1
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Default I need help with my overweight 7 year old

Does anyone know of a good program or support group (either on 3FC or not) that could give me advice on helping my 7 year old son lose weight? He currently weighs 90 pounds. In the past year we have dramatically changed our eating habits and tried to switch out bad foods for healthy foods about 90% of the time. He is not lazy by any means. He is probably one of the mroe active kids I know. He swims laps for an hour 3-4 nights a week, he is always outside on his bike or playing ball (when its warm enough). He pretty much only drinks water...no soda or anything other than a cup of milk each day. He really loves water. Hes ped has made comments about his weight in the past and got on me about my weight. I told her we made changes to his diet and he is very active. She acted as if she didn't believe me and I am sure by looking at how overweight I was, thats probably why. I didn't want to disclose to her all of my binge eating issues and that it wasn't "family meal time" that made me obese! However, I joined MRC and have lost 45 pounds since Dec. 1, 2008 and I feel fantastic. I still have a long way to go, but it really made me think about how much better my son will feel if he loses even 15 pounds or so. He is so into eating healthy. He asks atleast once a day if something is good for him or not. It just breaks my heart to see him this overweight. He has an older brother who is 12 with a health problem...which he can eat EVERYTHING and not gain weight...in fact we need to push the extra calories on his brother! I feel bad having to hold back on the little one, but something needs to be done. I would be willing to follow a certain meal plan, journal, anything at all to help my son, but I really need guidance!

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Old 02-23-2009, 11:57 AM   #2
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There's a fantastic book by Anne Fletcher called Weight Loss Confidential that might be of help. It's intended to help with teens, but the advice will hopefully help with a younger child. I think generally children are not supposed to go on diets, because it can increase their risk of obesity or eating disorders later on. His pediatrician can provide diet guidelines.

Good luck
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Old 02-23-2009, 12:02 PM   #3
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I'm no expert or anything, but it sounds like your son is doing everything right and so are you. Possibly its baby fat that he'll grow out of? Some kids hit 11 or 12 and shoot up a foot and all that weight is redistributed and they're perfectly normal. I don't think your son needs to be put on any kind of extreme meal plan at the age of seven. He's not seriously obese and he sounds perfectly healthy/active.
My 2 cents says you give him a few years. He's young enough that as long as he continues those healthy eating habits and stays active, he will be a normal-sized young adult barring some health problem.
He may have a thyroid issue thats causing him to retain the weight.
Also, are you sure he's not doing anything like binging in private? It doesn't sound likely if he's that aware of what's healthy, but its always a possibility.

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Old 02-23-2009, 12:07 PM   #4
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i agree wit munchievictim.

it sounds like your son is realy active (muscle mass?) and you're feedin him good foods. check portions by all means but he's gonna hit puberty in a couple of years time and will prbably grow in to his weight.

if your pediatrician is really worried then SHE will ive you some advice or she should do if she's any good.
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Old 02-23-2009, 12:10 PM   #5
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If he is as active as you say he is, and he is not eating a bunch of junk food when he's not at home, then I'd say get guidelines from the pediatrician and don't worry too much about it.

But how do you know what he eats when he's not at home? Like, at school, out with friends, when at the pool... I ask because I've seen posts on here from members who used to hide food when they were kids and binge in secret, and whose parents never knew.

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Old 02-23-2009, 12:28 PM   #6
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With kids that young, the focus generally shouldn't be "weight loss" so much as "growing into weight". As he gets taller and older, if he maintains his activity levels and healthy eating habits, he'll most likely "grow into" his weight (meaning he'll grow taller but not gain as much weight as might be expected, which will result in him growing closer to a "normal" weight for his height).

To get kids who are meant to be growing to lose weight usually means depriving them of nutrients that they need. Most doctors much prefer the "grow into it" approach, from what I understand.
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Old 02-23-2009, 12:34 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by JayEll View Post
If he is as active as you say he is, and he is not eating a bunch of junk food when he's not at home, then I'd say get guidelines from the pediatrician and don't worry too much about it.

But how do you know what he eats when he's not at home? Like, at school, out with friends, when at the pool... I ask because I've seen posts on here from members who used to hide food when they were kids and binge in secret, and whose parents never knew.

I do know that he eats school lunch everyday...and we ALL know thats not healthy! I have recently (in last couple of weeks) started packing his lunch a couple of days a week. I am pretty much a stay at home mom and go with him to all his extra activites so I know there is no extra calories there. I will admit, most of his extra weight came between the ages of 4-6 when we didn't monitor his food, gave him whatever he wanted and maybe that will take some time to come off. He said for Lent he is giving up ALL bad food. He wants oatmeal for breakfast every morning, he wants a sack lunch with healthy food for lunch every day and I told my husband that we should really cut back the red meat to NO more than 2 times a week.

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Old 02-23-2009, 12:55 PM   #8
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My 9 year old daughter has lost eight pounds over the last month. We as a whole family have decided to start "healthier eating". We don't tell her she is on a diet, we just tell her we are all cutting out sugar and flour. No prepackaged pantry food anymore. Sugar and flour account for so many wasted calories. Since we are all doing it together, she doesn't feel singled out and things are going smoothly.
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Old 02-23-2009, 12:59 PM   #9
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Does your son eat lunch at school or take one from home? Same with his breakfast? I have heard of so many kids who eat a healthy breakfast and dinner at home, but have fries with gravy and a huge burger, plus a pop with chips or chocolate bar for lunch which is equal to or over their entire days needed calories in one meal. We had friends that had two very overweight children who they bought large size bags of chips, nachos, and candies for every day and the mother said they were watching them. One day she bought them each a large bag of chips plus a chocolate bar & a pop for a snack (well over a thousand calories). I'm talking about a 270 grams + bag each; and ... sometimes, grammy and grampy were doing the same thing while she was at work; and that was just for a snack, not a meal.

So ... like JAYELL says, you really have to watch what they are eating at school, at friends, at relatives homes, and anywhere outside the home without coming off like a sergeant major. A doctor once told me (when I was young) that children and teens don't need to go on a diet, but to just eat 3 balanced meals with 2 healthy & portioned snacks a day; and that eventually their weight would balance out as they grow. He said it was unhealthy snacks and food choices that caused the overall weight gain over time, and I know in my family that was certainly the truth (but weight issues ran in the family on both sides, so we needed to watch even more).

He had me write down everything we ate for two weeks and noticed that we weren't eating enough veggies and fruit, so he said he wanted to see two veggies on the dinner table every day plus 1-2 fruits each day for us kids. He said it was fine to have one serving of a treat dessert on Sundays, and the rest of the time to have things fruit, yogurt, or sugar-free jello or pudding.

It may be due to his body type and age and height (?), if you have ruled out all the things we mentioned above. I know a boy that looked chubby from 10-13 (and was eating healthy), but had a growth spurt from 14-16, and is now almost 6 feet tall and slim; it was his body type but that changed at puberty. Sometimes, between 7-12 children appear chubby, then they spurt up at puberty (which is different for each child and younger today than ever before).

And since you just started your family on a new healthy eating style in December, I would just give him more time. Have you thought of journalizing your daily foods for two weeks; that's what my doctor did for me, so he could see where we needed to make improvements. I would make this volunteer and like a game for your son that you could do together; maybe ask him to help YOU, so the onus isn't on him and there's no pressure.

You could go see a dietician for advice as well; they are very helpful and real pros in this area and can offer lots of tips and advice. As kids, we were very active year-round: outside running around every day from the time we got home from school and after dinner til bedtime and on the weekend in sports and outside games as well like baseball & biking, skipping & soccer, skating plus road & ice hockey. Your son is fairly active in the summer, but what about the winter? He needs DAILY activities all year round ...

PS ~ I was typing while you responded? Yah, lunches at school are a big issue today, and hard to monitor. We didn't have that issue as children. I might eventually try for packed lunches all but one special day, but would that upset him too much??? Maybe every other day? Oh, I see he's game for this ... so go with him on it and have one special day, say Fridays for fun. Yah, have fish, chicken, and turkey some dinners as well if you can. I think you just need more time to iron all these things out ... good luck!
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Last edited by Justwant2Bhealthy; 02-23-2009 at 01:16 PM.
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Old 02-23-2009, 01:20 PM   #10
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I would like to know how tall your son is. I agree with the comments here that as active as your son is he probably just needs to grow into his weight, and as he gets a bit taller he will be fine.

I want to bring in a word of caution here; it sounds like your son is already very focused on eating right, and wants to make good choices; a kid that wants to give up all bad food for Lent is probably not sneaking food.

But here's my caution; it's a real fine line between a kid wanting to eat healthy and a kid starting to obsess about losing weight----a 9 year old that starts to put too much emphasis on being overweight or fat can drift into a 9 year old that begins to quit eating, maybe just a bit at first, but then sees results and begins to quit eating more, until it is a disorder.....as boys can develop eating disorders as well.

So I would say definitely encourage him to eat healthy and give him information about the right kinds of food to eat, and make eating healthy fun. But with all his activity, see how he does--if he isn't gaining, it may just drop off as he gets a little older.

Take care, it's great that you want him healthy.

(Oh, and about the drifting into eating disorders, I speak from experience so just caution...)
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Old 02-23-2009, 01:28 PM   #11
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I think the best thing that you can do is to have the house fully stocked with HEALTHY foods. Healthy, DELICIOUS foods that is. Ones he will fully enjoy. Rethink what treats and snacks are as well. Veggie plate with red pepper dip or hummus. Homemade pita crisps. Lots and lots of fruit, cut up so it's instant. Fruit skewers are cute too. Very kid friendly. Low or no fat yogurt smoothies. Things like that.

I would keep all junk out of the home. Maybe go out for an occasional splurge, but not keep it in the house.

I think he would most likely be much better off taking lunch and snacks from home instead of relying on school food.

I would also keep him as active as possible. Walks after dinner or bike rides. Roller blading. Frisbee. Have hula hoops and jump ropes lying around.

I agree with the growing into it method. Especially for boys. For now, I'd just try to focus on the whole family being healthy - together.
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Old 02-23-2009, 03:13 PM   #12
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Our family has also taken the healthy living approach. I homeschool my kids so I know what is being taken in, but you also have to teach them to make their own choices. We do this about once a week, I give them either an ad from a grocery store or a fast food place and have them chose things. We then add up the calories and they can see that they can eat more by eating healthy. However they will get fuller sooner by eating healthy.

My girls (6-15) have done great, I am trying to teach them this is one of the most important things you will learn. This is there life after all. My 6 yr has lost 6 lbs in 12 weeks which is great for her, she is not very tall.

I would suggest just starting with what you can not control, helping him make good choices. If there are none then you have to step in and provide him with something healthy. Also make sure he is not sneaking. My 6yr was sneaking candy into the house. She has friends at church that will buy her candy and teachers that will give her candy. It took me 6 months to find out that she had it in the bathroom, with 4 girls someone is always in there. I explained that if she had to sneak it like that she knew it was wrong and she agreed. I now allow 1 piece of sugar free candy a day, if you do not want it then you can put it up but it is yours. They have been putting some away and now share with friends.

Anyway, you have to really look at how much he is taking in because those calories add up fast for little ones.
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Old 02-23-2009, 03:17 PM   #13
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Since he is just 7 could you possibly start calorie counting for him without him knowing anything about it? I think you must be very careful going about this the right and I am sure you know that already. It seems to me there should be a skilled pediatrician or nutritionist in your area that could help as well.

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Old 02-23-2009, 03:24 PM   #14
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It is hard to know what's going on at school and it only gets worse. I do remember my mother actually stopping by the school during lunch a couple of times to make sure I hadn't gotten chocolate milk Might I suggest NOT doing that?

If you are providing healthy food at home and doing your best to make sure he has healthy food at school and he is an active child, then I would wait and see. There really isn't much else to do and I wouldn't personally saddle a kid to a weight loss program, especially at such a young age.

I do remember also being a really active child and my dad packed awesome lunches (healthy), which I always preferred over junk. I did make awful choices in high school, but being active and being used to healthy food laid a great foundation for being a healthy adult.

It's ok if your doctor doesn't believe you. Just remember that she isn't in your home and YOU are the mom and the head caregiver. You know what's best.

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Old 02-23-2009, 03:45 PM   #15
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I am so thankful for all of you who have given your advice. I think I will REALLY monitor what he's eating at home/school and maybe journal it on my own. I really don't know what a serving size is for kids compared to what an adult should have tho. I will make sure he has an extra veggie each day...I am sure the whatever veggie the school had is NOT that healthy. Everyone gave good advice! Thank you!

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