Here’s how to help an overweight child

One of the most important things you can do to help overweight children is to let them know that they are okay, whatever their weight.

Children’s feelings about themselves often are based on their parents’ feelings about them. It is also important to talk to your children about their weight, allowing them to share their concerns with you.

Your child probably knows better than anyone else that he or she has a weight problem. For this reason, overweight children need support, acceptance, and encouragement from parents.

Focus on the family. Parents should try not to set children apart because of their weight, but focus on gradually changing their family’s physical activity and eating habits.

Regular physical activity, combined with healthy eating habits, is the most efficient and healthful way to control your weight. Some simple ways to increase your family's physical activity include the following:

*Be a role model for your children. If your children see that you are physically active and have fun, they are more likely to be active and stay active.

*Plan family activities that provide everyone with exercise and enjoyment, such as walking, dancing, biking or swimming. For example, schedule a walk with your family after dinner instead of watching TV.

*Be sensitive to your child’s needs. Overweight children may feel uncomfortable about participating in certain activities. It is important to help your child find physical activities that he/ she enjoys, and those that aren’t embarrassing or too difficult.

The point is to not make physical activity an unwelcome chore. Teach your family healthy eating habits.

Teaching healthy eating practices early will help children approach eating with the right attitude — that food should be enjoyed, and that it is necessary for growth, development, and energy.

The best way to begin is to learn more about children’s nutritional needs by reading or talking with a health professional, and then offering them some healthy options to choose from.

(The writer is a CSCS (NSCA), C.H.E.K. and expert trainer)

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