How to help your child have a healthy weight
What causes weight gain in children?
Children need a certain number of calories to grow and develop. But if a child consumes more calories than he uses, the body stores them as fat. In healthy children, weight gain is often observed because the child consumes more calories than he burns.
Why is it important for my child to learn good eating and exercise habits?
Good nutrition and regular physical activity can help your child achieve and maintain a healthy weight. If you teach your child good eating and exercise habits when he is young, these good habits will continue to benefit him as he grows up as an adult. Staying fit helps prevent health problems that being overweight or obese can cause later in life, including the following:
Severe obesity can lead to liver problems and arthritis.
An overweight or obese child may also be irritated or irritated about their weight, feel bad about their body, or feel isolated and lonely. These feelings can interfere with a child’s ability to learn, make friends, and interact with others.
Limit screen time
Limit your child’s screen time to no more than 1-2 hours a day. Screen time includes playing video or computer games, surfing the Internet, sending text messages, watching TV or DVD. Give a good example by limiting your own screen time.
How can I motivate my child to be more physically active?
As a parent or primary caregiver, you have a great influence on your child. Even if you don’t realize it, what you do affects the decisions your child makes. If your child sees that you are physically active on a regular basis, they are more likely to be active.
Make physical activity part of your family’s routine. For example, you can take your dog for a walk every morning or play basketball before dinner every night. Find physical activities that you enjoy doing with your family.
What can I do to help my child choose healthy foods?
By teaching and promoting healthy eating habits, you are giving your child important tools for healthy living. You can shape your child’s view of healthy eating by setting a good example.
Help your child choose healthy foods
- Be a good example. Choose healthy foods and snacks for yourself.
- Eat healthy snacks (such as fruits such as apples and bananas and raw vegetables such as carrots and celery) that are ready at home.
- Include lots of low-fat protein, vegetables and whole grains in the meals you prepare.
- Be consistent in your efforts to present healthy food options. Children are not always ready to try new things right away. By continuing to offer healthy options, you will improve your child’s chances of developing healthy eating habits.
- Teach your child how to make healthy choices for school lunches.
- Avoid eating fast food. If you dine at a fast food restaurant or other restaurant, choose the healthiest options available.
- Forget the rule of eating everything. Let your child stop eating when he feels full.
- Avoid using food as a reward. Instead, reward good behavior with fun family activities (such as bowling instead of eating ice cream).
When should I worry about my child’s eating habits or physical habits?
Watch for any changes in your child’s normal eating or physical habits. For example, does your child seem to eat when he is bored to feel better or in response to other emotions? This is called “emotional eating out.” Eating out of one’s emotional output can lead to weight gain. This may also be an indication that your child is having trouble managing feelings such as depression or stress.
Pay attention to the warning signs of an eating disorder. These include being very concerned about calories, worrying about your weight, not eating at all, overeating or exercising too much. Eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia are rare in children, but can occur. The risk increases when the child grows into an adolescent and a young adult.
If you have any concerns about your child’s behavior, be sure to talk to your family doctor.
Copyright © American Academy of Family Physicians
This information provides an overview and may not apply to everyone. Talk to your family doctor to find out if this information applies to you and for more information on this topic.
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