Years (and years) ago when I was a kid, I can remember very few kids in my class that were overweight. These days, overweight is slowly becoming the norm. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention1 reports that the percentage of obese kids has tripled over the last thirty years and that one-third of American children and adolescents are obese or overweight.
That is a terrifying prospect for the health of our future generations.
No parent wants their child to be unhealthy or to be subjected to ridicule by other kids but somehow this thing has gotten away from us.
But who doesn’t squirm at the thought of talking with a child about losing weight? That could potentially be an emotionally scarring experience for them if not approached in a thoughtful, sensitive manner. However, it is well worth a bit of discomfort to prevent a lifetime of ill-health for our children.
The best way to broach the subject is by implementing a whole family approach to healthy living.
This is the time to be selfless. Your kids depend on you to steer them in the right direction. If you constantly eat unhealthy foods with your kids they are going to learn unhealthy habits. Give them headstart, not a handicap.
If your child is already overweight, but still has a lot of growing to do, experts do not recommend cutting calories unless their health care provider has recommended they do so. Rather, as Dan Kirschenbaum, PhD, an obesity expert and professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Northwestern University suggests, aim to maintain your child’s weight rather than lose weight. This will allow your young overweight child to grow into his or her weight.
As a whole family approach to your child’s weight loss there are several easy things you can do to help them embrace a healthier lifestyle.
Ban sugary drinks in the house. Sodas, fruit punch and fruit juices are terrible culprits in childhood obesity. Simply eliminating these drinks and replacing them with water will jump-start any child’s safe weight loss journey.
Limit television to under two hours a day and replace that T.V. time with exercise. Any kind of exercise, even walking up and down stairs or doing jumping jacks doing commercials, is good.
Make meals at home as often as possible. Restaurant food is almost always less healthy than home-cooked and fast “food” is nothing but a caloric wasteland with little to no nutritional value and tons of extra calories.
While you’re at it, eat at a table instead of in front of the T.V. At least part of the time. It really does help to prevent overeating.
Keep washed, bite-size fruit and veggies available to encourage healthy snacking.
Making these small changes for your whole family might take a bit of adjustment but will be well worth it for your child’s long-term health and happiness. Ask your Genetix Program coach how they can help you make the right choices for yourself and your children. You can do it and we can help!