Weight Loss For Children
If you think your child may be overweight, you can use a BMI calculator for children. This tool will help you know if your child’s weight is right for their height, age and sex. The calculator is suitable for children aged two and above.
Being overweight in childhood must be diagnosed and treated early because this disease increases the risk of obesity in adulthood. Furthermore, it raises the chance of developing cardiovascular risk factors such as diabetes, hypercholesterolemia, hypertension, etc.
If you have done your child’s BMI calculation and the result was overweight or obesity, it is time to take action.
Treatment of obesity and overweight during childhood is totally different from that used in adults. In children, weight loss treatment is performed in conjunction with the family. It is very important that you accompany your child in this process since much of the success of treatment depends on this. Do not change the child’s diet without consulting the GP or other professional help.
The child’s diet should always ensure proper growth.
What is the desired goal in the treatment of weight loss in a child?
The goal is not to lose weight, but to get to a healthy weight for growth. The calorie intake of the diet will be appropriate to their age, height and weight. Most overweight or obese children do not eat or consume small amounts of fruits and vegetables. Then the diet will also be composed of foods from all the food groups. It is important to be creative with the menus because you will cook foods that your child is not accustomed to eating.
Another important issue is to not use food as a reward or punishment
If your child misbehaves, it is better to give a time out and not leave a child without nutrition. Avoid giving sweets or snacks when something is good because in the future he will be an adult that relates mood with food and he will be more likely to develop an eating disorder.
Change As A Family
Diet changes in the family work very well. Children often copy what parents do. Therefore, if they see their parents eating fruits and vegetables, it is likely that they too want to. This is what works and allows your child eat a healthy diet and keep a healthy weight. Meals with family all together without distractions like TV can be a big step in your child’s healthy diet. If he is distracted by the radio or TV, he may not register when he is full and will tend to eat more than necessary.
Also, if you cook, children are likely to eat fewer calories, fats and sugars because home cooking is healthier than the ready to eat foods. The packaged foods such as pureed fruits or vegetables have high amounts of sodium and are not recommended for your child´s diet.
If your family eats snacks that are high in fat or sugar such as chocolate, biscuits, sweets and fizzy drinks, aim to replace these with healthier alternatives such as fruit and yoghurt.
Physical activity should be part of the weight loss treatment of the child
It has to be a pleasurable activity for children. Choose a sport that you know they enjoy like soccer, tennis, basketball, etc. and try to be part of this routine. If the child is sedentary, it is advisable to incorporate physical activity slowly.
Many children have shame of being overweight and do not want to play sports. Remember that sports should be a pleasurable activity for them, so they will keep an active lifestyle. Sport will also help your child to socialize with other children.
For more on how much activity children should do, and what counts as activity: If your child is under five, read physical activity guidelines for children. If your child is aged between five and 18, read physical activity guidelines for children and young people. You should also restrict the amount of time your child spends in front of the TV or playing videogames.
Your Child At School
School should provide support if the child is on a diet. For example, it should provide healthy options at lunch. It can also provide the option of eating healthy snacks like popcorn without sugar, fresh fruit, yoghurts, cereal bars, etc.
On the other hand, school should provide nutritional education to parents to prevent obesity and overweight, and also to know how to prepare the food carried to school. School is also a good environment for your child to practice sport and to maintain a healthy weight.
If, despite changes in diet and lifestyle, your child cannot maintain a healthy weight, it is recommended for you to consult a nutritionist or GP. Your GP or practical nurse can assess your child’s weight and provide further advice on lifestyle changes.
They may also be able to refer you to a local weight management program for children in your community. At these workshops, you’ll learn more about the diet and lifestyle changes that can help your child to achieve a healthy weight.
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