Have you started to notice that your child is looking a little chunky, shall we say? While it’s normal for kids to fill out as they get older, what you don’t want is them gaining weight too quickly and ending up being overweight. At one point or another, most kids go through phases of being a little chubby - normally referred to as puppy fat. However, it’s important to be able to tell the difference between normal amounts of body fat and a child who is overweight or obese.
In the UK, research has shown that around 30 percent of children between two and 15-years-old are either overweight or obese. Being overweight impacts a child’s health, so if you’ve noticed that your child is a little chunkier than they should be, it’s important to take steps to help them to become healthier, which can sometimes be easier said than done as a lot of kids are stubborn when it comes to what they eat and how they spend their spare time. (For a lot of kids, gaming seems to be the activity of choice.)
The question is, what does it take to help your child lose a little weight and get back to being healthy again? For everything that you need to know and do, read on.
Don’t say anything to them
When it comes to your child’s weight, don’t make the mistake of saying to them about it. Children can be incredibly sensitive about how they look, which is why mentioning their weight to them isn’t a good idea, as the last thing you want to do is damage their self-esteem. The thing is, once a child’s self-esteem is damaged, it can be incredibly difficult to help boost it again. Obviously, if your child broaches the subject with you first and tells you that they feel uncomfortable with their weight, then it’s okay to talk to them about it. However, if they’re unaware that there is a problem, then there’s no need to bring it to their attention, especially if they’re young - you can help them without mentioning their weight to them.
Speak to their doctor
If you’re worried about your child’s weight, taking them to the doctor’s for a health check could be a good idea. By going to see your child’s doctor, you can have them weighed, and their height checked to see whether their weight is healthy or whether they could do with losing a few pounds. Their doctor may even be able to suggest a weight loss plan to you for your child or may be able to refer you to a dietician, for help getting your child’s weight under control.
Make changes to their diets
The first step to getting your child’s weight under control is to make changes to their diet. Spend a couple of days monitoring what they’re eating, and then find ways to give their diet a health boost. It could be a case of making small changes, such as cooking all of the meals that your child has from scratch, or you may need to change everything about their diet, from what they have for breakfast to what they snack on. Don’t just change your child’s diet, change the way that the whole family eats, that way your child won’t feel singled out by the changes. Aim to cook healthy, homemade meals every night, swap fizzy drinks and juices for soda water and fruit infused water, swap chocolate and crisps for fruit, vegetables, yogurt, and plain popcorn.
Be a more active family
One of the most important things when it comes to helping your child to lose weight and become healthier is exercise. They say that when it comes to being a healthy weight, it’s 80% diet and 20% exercise. However, just because exercise isn’t as important as food, it’s still crucial if you want your child to become healthier. To encourage your child to do more exercise, commit to becoming a more active family and lead by example. Kids often mimic their parents’ behaviour, so by becoming more active yourself, you will encourage your child to do the same. As a family, spend your spare time going swimming, taking bike rides, going for walks, and playing sports - the more active you can be as a family, the better. Remember, it’s about creating healthy habits.
Encourage them to join a sports team
One of the best forms of exercise for kids is joining a sports team. To encourage your child to join a sports team, talk to them about all the best things about being part of a team, such as making new friends, learning new skills and taking part in tournaments with loads of other teams. Perhaps you could also tell them about how much fun you had playing sport as a kid and winning loads of football trophies, basketball medals, and certificates in swimming as part of a team? To help your child find the sport that is for them, take them along to taster sessions and let them try out various different sports so that they can find the one that’s the best fit for them. Whether your child falls in love with football, hockey, basketball, or swimming as part of a team, it doesn’t matter. All that matters is that they find a sport that they enjoy taking part in.
Teach them about being healthy
While you don’t want to mention your child’s weight to them, as you don’t want to risk giving them a complex, it could be worth talking to them about being healthy. A lot of younger children don’t understand how important eating well and exercising regularly is, which is it’s important to talk to them about it. To help you explain to your children about the importance of regular exercise and eating well, there are various books and TV documentaries aimed at kids that you could use, so if you’re not sure how to go about it, don’t stress.
There you have it, everything that you need to know about dealing with a child that’s overweight and helping them to get their weight back on track.