Weight management tips for families

Help your child lose weight

Extra body weight can put your child at risk for type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, liver disease, snoring or sleep problems, orthopedic concerns and polycystic ovarian syndrome. Being overweight also can make asthma worse and lower your child’s self-esteem.

  • If your child needs to lose weight, always check with your health care provider or dietitian first to determine safe weight loss goals. And don’t expect weight loss to happen too quickly – slow and steady wins the race!
  • Because kids still are growing, a balanced diet with a sufficient amount of calories is necessary. Each food group has a role in our health and well-being and fad diets don't work in the long run.
  • To help your body process foods well and provide energy throughout your day, it needs to be fed every 4 hours. If your body does not get food every 4 hours, it will start to store food as fat and slow weight loss.
  • Serve the same meals and foods for all family members regardless of their weight status. Healthy eating helps the entire family. Singling out a person will make him or her feel worse and decrease his or her chance of success.
  • Do not tease or punish. This only will hurt the person and discourage efforts.
  • Find other options for rewards instead of food – this includes time together, family activities (going to the park or playing games) or positive comments.
  • Both food and physical activity play a crucial role in improving health and managing weight.
  • Set aside time for moderate to vigorous exercise above and beyond your typical routine. Activity does not need to be boring or take place at a gym. Moderate to vigorous activity makes your heart beat faster, makes you breathe harder and sweat. Riding bikes or playing tag are great examples.
  • Be a role model. Kids constantly watch their parents. Improving health should be "do as I do,” not “do as I say.”

Include these when working on weight management:

  • Include the entire family as you create a healthier lifestyle.
  • Try not to make too many changes at one time. Set your child up for success.
  • Increase the variety of fruits and vegetables you serve. And include a fruit or vegetable with all meals and snacks.
  • Try to decrease the number of times you eat out each month. This includes deli, takeout, delivery, fast food, sit-down restaurants and specialty stores such as ice cream shops. When you eat out, you can’t control portion sizes and often you will eat more than you know.
  • Choose drinks that have 3 grams or less of sugar per serving – they are lower in calories and decrease risk for dental problems. White milk is the only exception to this rule. Remember, juices can have as much sugar as soda.
  • Fit some physical activity into every part of your day.
  • A regular routine is important for overall health. Kids need regular wake-up, going-to-bed and meal times, even in the summer.