YOUR CHILD'S WEIGHT
Help Your Child with Successful Weight Management
A child with weight problems faces
serious medical, emotional, and
social consequences. Extra pounds can
Components of Weight Management
Weight management programs for all but the
most severely overweight children and adoles-
cents should not focus on weight loss. Instead,
lead to high blood pressure, diabetes, the goal is to keep weight stable while the
heart disease, and orthopedic and child gets taller and more muscular over time.
mobility problems, not to mention low As with adult programs, the cornerstones are
physical activity and a healthy diet. However,
self-esteem and social problems. a child has a much better chance for success
All kids and families handle this difficult when her family also adopts healthy behaviors.
situation differently: some make it the focus of
family life; others pretend it doesn’t exist. But Target the Whole Family
there are two basic truths about all families: With family participation, the overweight child
1) parents are constantly influencing their is not singled out, and can learn and practice
child’s relationship with food, activity, and new behaviors with positive examples from
themselves, and 2) weight control is a family the most important people in his life. In addi-
problem that requires a family solution. You tion to teaching kids about healthy choices,
can help your child with the challenge of you must also be a role model, support system,
weight control by being a positive role model and participant. When all family members join
with your attitudes, your eating habits, and in positive activities, you’ll not only help your
your physical activity behaviors. overweight child, you’ll also become a healthier
and closer family.
Causes of Overweight
Simply speaking, overweight occurs when Be Physically Active
more calories are coming in than are being
Moving your body is a critical element in
spent. But it’s really not that easy. Although
weight management. Movement and exertion
physical activity and food choices are the most
help everyone feel healthier, manage weight,
critical factors in weight gain and loss, other
control stress, and increase strength, coordina-
factors, including genetics and family and
tion, and self-esteem. Researchers jokingly
social influences, play a role.
point out that the most
Your doctor can help
evaluate your child’s
activity a child can do is
weight using tools such
turning off the television
as body mass index
set or walking away
(BMI) and growth
from computer games.
charts, and considering
Hours of tag, stick ball,
age, sex, maturity level,
and hopscotch have
ethnicity, and physical
been replaced by
activity. Remember, no BAYLOR
one has a specific ideal COLLEGE
such as television
weight; we all have a
range of acceptable
watching and computer OF MEDICINE
games. Experts recom- Office of Health
mend that most chil- Promotion
dren get at least 60 One Baylor Plaza,
Help your child with minutes of moderate Rm 176B
the challenge of weight physical activity daily. Houston, TX
control by being a And if you’re looking to 77030
positive role model spend “quality” time
YOUR CHILD'S WEIGHT
limit portion sizes of foods high in
calories, such as cookies, cakes, and
other sweets, and fats, oils, and
spreads. Here are some tips to work
toward these goals:
• Use less fat to cook and at meals
• Choose lean cuts of meat
• Prepare foods (and order out) in
ways that don’t add fat—bake,
roast, poach, grill
Plan vacations around movement and play • Avoid fried foods, heavy cream or
with kids when you’re not distracted daily and weekly schedule. For • Use low or non-fat dairy products
or rushed, physical activity is a example, each day after school and and cheeses (except for kids
great opportunity. work, the family can go for a walk, younger than two years)
ride bikes, or play Frisbee. On rainy
Support an Active Lifestyle
days maybe everyone can exercise
• Combine “new” foods with
All family members should help “favorite” foods: mix bran cereal
along with Mom’s fitness video, or
select family activities as well as with the ‘fun’ cereal your kids are
just put on fast music and dance.
their own pursuits. Here are some used to; serve low-fat ice cream
Many active families pick a
ways you can be supportive: with fruit on top
special activity for weekends:
• Buy birthday and holiday pre- flying kites, playing tennis, swim- • Drink water instead of soda or
sents that promote movement, such ming, ice skating, etc. Help your fruit drinks
as roller skates, frisbees, a croquet kids find activities that appeal to • Remember breakfast, but forget
set, or a softball and glove. them, and pursue them through traditional ideas. How about a slice
• Involve your extended family and lessons, clubs, teams, and/or of veggie pizza, a fruit smoothie
friends in your activities. camps. Remember that some kids with low-fat milk, or low-fat peanut
enjoy team sports and events while butter on whole wheat toast?
• Emphasize fun, not skill. others prefer to participate in • Take a multi-vitamin daily
• Volunteer for physical activity solitary or family-only activities.
events at your child’s school. Healthy Habits
• Find activities in your community, Eat for Health • Don’t draw attention to healthy
such as hiking trails, swimming Experts agree that kids shouldn’t be foods you’ve purchased.
pools, skating rinks, etc. placed on highly restricted diets. • Eat meals together so you can be
• Plan parties and vacations around Instead of going on (and off) diets, a role model. Make meals a pleas-
movement and play. Instead of a most people who control their ant time to discuss your day, not a
birthday outing at the movies, how weight view food as a tool they use time for lecturing or punishing.
about miniature golf, or roller to feel good and healthy. They have • Don’t eat in front of the television.
skating? Or a vacation that includes modified what they eat, how much
swimming, camping, canoeing, they eat, and how they feel and
• Stock your kitchen with healthy
lunch and snack foods (raisins,
hiking, etc.? behave regarding food.
popcorn, fruit, etc.), and store the
Everyday Ideas Guidelines for Lifetime cookies out of sight.
Your family doesn’t have to launch Weight Management • Rethink the way you eat and
into a vigorous exercise regime to While no foods are “off limits,” a shop. Have vegetables, beans, or
expend more energy. Try making sensible, healthy eating plan pasta as the focus of your meal,
changes in your everyday routine: highlights foods that have moder- with meat as a side dish.
walk instead of drive, park further ate amounts of fat, sugar, and • Serve healthy snacks and have
from the store, or take the stairs sodium. Use the Food Pyramid (see smaller meals.
instead of the elevator. Everyone box) as a guide for food choices,
and include a variety of foods,
• Involve the kids in planning,
can help do yard work, washing shopping, and preparing meals,
the car, and housecleaning. Try to especially whole grains, fresh
snacks, and school lunches using the
schedule active times into your vegetables and fruits. Be careful to
YOUR CHILD'S WEIGHT
Food Pyramid (see ”Food Groups”) Acknowledging the Problem
as a guide. Research shows that kids Most kids with a weight problem
usually eat the dishes they fix, and are very aware of it, but may not
that parents do too! know what to do or where to turn.
• Don’t use food as punishment or Try acknowledging your child’s
reward. concerns, providing hope for the
future, and promising that you will
• Help your child consider healthy
be there to help.
choices in places he eats, such as
the school cafeteria or fast food
People with weight problems often
• Choose smaller sizes, share side eat for reasons that have nothing to
orders, set aside half of a restaurant
do with appetite, such as boredom,
dinner for lunch the next day.
frustration, sleepiness, anger, etc.
• Don’t overly restrict sweets or Help your kids recognize why they Encourage your children
treats—try “everyday” and “some- eat, and suggest alternatives to to find activities that
times” foods. automatically reaching for a snack. help them flourish
And note that it takes about 20 What can your son do to make him
Strategies for Success minutes after you start eating before feel valuable? Picking up an
Studies have shown that children you realize that you’re getting full; elderly neighbor’s newspaper?
who make small, progressive remind your child to eat slowly to Can your daughter volunteer at a
modifications in behavior are able avoid getting “over-full.” recycling center? Take an art class?
to build on their achievements and It may take some creativity to help
make permanent changes. These Goal-Setting your child try new things, but with
behaviors focus on a healthy diet Set family goals such as “eat family encouragement and partici-
and increased physical activity, and healthy” or “get fit.” Break each pation, new habits are within
are supported by a combination of goal into smaller objectives, such as everyone’s reach.
emotional and behavioral features. “drink 8 glasses of water daily” so
you’ll consistently make progress Professional Assistance
toward your long-term goal. Tips to
help you stay on track: You can learn more about healthy
eating habits and how to incorpo-
• Be positive: “I am going to walk rate them into your family’s life by
when I get home from school”, as
working with a registered dietitian.
opposed to “I’m not going to watch
If your doctor says that your
TV every day when I get home
child’s health is at risk, you may
want to consider a formal weight
• Be specific: “I am going to walk management program. A qualified
on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.” program will be staffed with a
• Be realistic. variety of professionals (dietitians,
• Write goals and objectives down. exercise physiologists, pediatri-
cians, psychologists), perform a
• Re-evaluate progress regularly, complete medical evaluation, focus
and reward yourself (back scratches,
on the whole family, and include a
movies, camping trip, basketball
maintenance program. Avoid any
hoop) for all small and large victories.
clinic, program, or fad diet that
promises a quick fix or instant
Self-Esteem cure. If your child is extremely
Just as with adults, when kids feel overweight and/or has serious
good about themselves, they’re more emotional issues regarding weight,
likely to make healthy changes. Point you should consider professional
Involve your kids in planning, out your child’s unique strengths and medical and/or psychological
shopping and preparing meals abilities, and encourage them to find assistance in addition to the ap-
activities that help them flourish. proaches suggested in this brochure.