The obesity rate of American children is growing alarmingly, and measures need to be taken for kids to lose weight. Today, 1 out of every 3 children is overweight or obese. By following proper dietary guidelines, parents can help their kids lose weight.
Guideline #1: A Complete Medical Evaluation
The health practitioner will determine whether there is a causative genetic or biomedical basis for the child's need to lose weight. The health practitioner will measure the child's height and weight and calculate the child's BMI (body mass index) and BMI percentile. These numbers should be reviewed at each subsequent visit.
Guideline #2: Support and Encouragement
Kids who are overweight know it. They need support, encouragement, and role modeling from their parents. They never deserve to be ridiculed. It is the parent's job to provide healthy and nutritious food at mealtime, and to make sure there are healthy snacks available at all times.
Guideline #3: Abolish the Clean Plate Policy
Throw out the clean plate policy. Reinforce the idea that everyone should eat until they are no longer hungry. Don't use food as a reward for good behavior.
Guideline #4: Promote Physical Activity
Encourage your child to have at least one hour of vigorous physical activity daily. If possible, get them outdoors. They can participate in a sport, ride bikes, play games, or dance; all activity is good.
Guideline # 5: Discourage Inactivity
In order for kids to lose weight, parents need to limit television watching, video game playing, and internet and computer use. The less sedentary time the child spends, the more likely they are to reach a healthier weight. Lead by example.
Guideline # 6: Allow Treats in Moderation
Don't label foods "good" or "bad," and don't eliminate all snacks and sweets. If you eliminate all the treats, kids are likely to seek them out elsewhere or sneak them in. Decide together in advance when treats will be allowed.
Guideline #7: Healthy Meal Planning
Get the kids involved in planning and preparing healthy meals. Take them food shopping and teach them how to make better choices. Teach them to prepare simple, healthy meals and snacks.
Guideline # 8: Encourage Fruits and Veggies, Limit Sugary Beverages
Encourage kids to have at least five servings of fruits and vegetables a day, and limit the intake sugar-sweetened beverages such as:
- fruit drinks
- sports drinks
- energy drinks
- flavored milk.
Guideline #9: Limit Fast Food
Limit fast food consumption. Fast food companies are beginning to recognize the need to offer healthier choices. If your child is eating fast food, try to be certain they have made a healthy choice for at least part of the meal.
Guideline #10: Offer Guidance
Talk to your kids about living a healthy lifestyle. Encourage their participation and make losing weight a family affair.
Most kids can lose weight by making dietary changes and exercising more. If that doesn't happen, more intensive intervention may be required. This could include working with a nutritionist, counseling, or following specific dietary directives under the guidance of an expert in childhood obesity management.