Parents play a crucial role in helping children who are obese feel loved and in control of their weight. Take advantage of every opportunity to build your child's self-esteem. Don't be afraid to bring up the topic of health and fitness but do be sensitive that a child may view your concern as an insult. Talk to your kids directly, openly, and without being critical or judgmental.
In addition, consider the following advice:
April 10, 2015
- Be sensitive to your child's needs and feelings. Becoming active is an important lifestyle change for your child to make, but your child is more likely to stick to those changes if you let him or her choose what physical activities he or she is comfortable with.
- Find reasons to praise your child's efforts. Celebrate small, incremental changes but don't reward with food. Choose other ways to mark your child's accomplishments, such as going to the bowling alley or a local park.
- Talk to your child about his or her feelings. Help your child find ways to deal with his or her emotions that don't involve eating.
- Help your child focus on positive goals. For example, point out that he or she can now bike for more than 20 minutes without getting tired or can run the required number of laps in gym class.
- Be patient. Many overweight children grow into their extra pounds as they get taller. Realize, too, that an intense focus on your child's eating habits and weight can easily backfire, leading a child to overeat even more or possibly making him or her more prone to developing an eating disorder.
- About BMI for children and teens. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/healthyweight/assessing/bmi/childrens_BMI/about_childrens_BMI.html. Accessed Feb. 27, 2015.
- Understanding childhood obesity. American Heart Association. http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/GettingHealthy/WeightManagement/Obesity/Childhood-Obesity_UCM_304347_Article.jsp. Accessed Feb. 27, 2015.
- Normal childhood nutrition & its disorders. In: Hay WW, et al. Current Diagnosis & Treatment: Pediatrics. 2nd ed. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2014. http://www.accessmedicine.com/. Accessed Feb. 27, 2014.
- Huang JS, et al. Childhood obesity for pediatric gastroenterologists. Journal of Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition. 2013;56:99.
- Klish WJ. Definition; epidemiology; and etiology of obesity in children and adolescents. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Feb. 27, 2015.
- Barlow SE, et al. Expert committee recommendations regarding the prevention, assessment and treatment of child and adolescent overweight and obesity: Summary report. Pediatrics. 2007;120:S164.
- Currie C, et al. Is obesity at individual and national level associated with lower age at menarche? Evidence from 34 countries in the Health Behaviour in School-aged Children Study. Journal of Adolescent Health. 2012;50:621.
- Keeping children at a healthy weight: A review of the research on ways to avoid becoming overweight or obese. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. http://effectivehealthcare.ahrq.gov/search-for-guides-reviews-and-reports/?pageaction=displayproduct&productID=1714. Accessed Feb. 17, 2015.
- Skelton JA. Management of childhood obesity in the primary care setting. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Feb. 27, 2015.
- Petjar R, et al. Pharmacological management of obese child. Archives of Diseases in Childhood Education and Practice Edition. 2013;98:108.
- Sherafat-Kazemzadeh R, et al. Pharmacotherapy for childhood obesity: Present and future prospects. International Journal of Obesity. 2013;37:1.
- Braet C, et al. The assessment of eating behaviour in children who are obese: A psychological approach. A position paper from the European childhood obesity group. Obesity Facts. 2014;7:153.
- Klish WJ. Clinical evaluation of the obese child and adolescent. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed March 2, 2015.
- Media and children. American Academy of Pediatrics. https://www.aap.org/en-us/advocacy-and-policy/aap-health-initiatives/pages/media-and-children.aspx. Accessed March 2, 2015.
- Klish WJ. Comorbidities and complications of obesity in children and adolescents. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed March 3, 2015.
- Papoutsakis C, et al. Childhood overweight/obesity and asthma: Is there a link? A systematic review of recent epidemiologic evidence. Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. 2013;113:77.
- Helping your overweight child. Weight-control Information Network. http://win.niddk.nih.gov/publications/over_child.htm#d. Accessed March 25, 2015.
- Barlow SE, et al. Expert Committee Recommendations Regarding the Prevention, Assessment, and Treatment of Child and Adolescent Overweight and Obesity: Summary Report. American Academy of Pediatrics. Pediatrics. 2007;120:S164.
- Fitch A, et al. Prevention and management of obesity for children and adolescents. Bloomington, Minn.: Institute for Clinical Systems Improvement; 2013.
You Are ... The Campaign for Mayo Clinic
Mayo Clinic is a not-for-profit organization. Make a difference today.