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Health & Wellness Articles  ›  Family & Lifestyle

Helping Your Overweight Child

Start the Journey to Better Health Together

-- By Nicole Nichols, Fitness Instructor & Health Educator
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According to the American Heart Association (AHA), adults aren't the only ones at risk for heart disease, stroke and other cardiovascular diseases—kids are too. More and more children of all ages are overweight than ever before. As a result, weight-related health problems that are typically found in adults are becoming more common in our kids. Overweight children are at risk for diseases that will affect them in childhood, such as Type 2 (formerly called "adult-onset") diabetes, and for health issues that they'll face as adults if they don't lose weight. By reducing your overweight child's weight gain now, or helping him lose weight by eating healthy foods and becoming active, you can lower his risk of developing several serious conditions, including:
  • Diseases that can occur in childhood, including asthma, breathing problems, high blood pressure, Type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol, depression, liver and gallbladder diseases, sleep apnea (cessation of breathing during sleep) and more.
  • Long-term diseases that occur in adulthood, including cardiovascular disease (heart attack and stroke), heart failure, respiratory problems, certain cancers, infertility and pregnancy complications, arthritis, and higher risk for sudden death.
Helping Your Overweight Child
If you think your child is overweight, check with his doctor to help you evaluate your child's weight and develop a family action plan for weight management. The doctor may refer your child to see a dietitian who can help your child meet his nutrition goals. Typically, professionals will recommend one of three weight management options:
  1. Slowing down the rate at which your child is gaining weight
  2. Stopping your child from gaining weight (weight maintenance)
  3. Losing excess weight
When children are involved, any weight loss program should be monitored by professionals, such as a doctor and dietitian. When changing your family's lifestyle to emphasize healthy, long-term lifestyle changes, be sure to avoid:
  • Fad diets and quick fixes—these usually result in unsafe, short-term weight loss.
  • Programs designed for adults—most commercial programs (including SparkPeople) are not appropriate for children.
  • Weight loss camps and clinics—even though these are marketed to children, they often promise unrealistic results. Continued ›
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About The Author

Nicole Nichols Nicole Nichols
Nicole was named "America's Top Personal Trainer to Watch" in 2011. A certified personal trainer and fitness instructor with a bachelor's degree in health education, she loves living a healthy and fit lifestyle and helping others do the same. Her DVDs "Total Body Sculpting" and "28 Day Boot Camp" (a best seller) are available online and in stores nationwide. Read Nicole's full bio and blog posts.

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Member Comments

  • ECONWSU2012
    This article had a lot of common sense tips..but nothing about the importance of making sure your child knows that losing weight isn't about trying to look good or look acceptable to society. Kids are bombarded with messages about how being fat is the worst possible thing a person can become. No doubt there are big health risks that come from being fat but there are a lot of risks from kids having a negative body image and thinking their worth depends on a number on the scale. I was hoping this article would touch on that but it did not. Quite the disappointment! - 7/2/2013 1:55:24 AM
  • I have a nephew who is 12 and he weigh 200lbs. And he eat everything. I use to keep him and when I first took him, he was own his way to being a diabetic. So now that he is with his mother, he have gain all that weight. It break my heart so bad. - 5/5/2013 3:22:02 PM
  • My three boys are very active and I really try and watch what they eat. Thankfully they like fruits and most veggies, so that is a good thing! I have a neice who just turned 8 and she weighs probably 65-70 pounds and is a bit chubby for her age. She was the baby of the the family until her baby brother came along 3 years ago. then she got pushed to the back burner. It breaks my heart to see what she goes through. My sil is always taking them out to eat and has all sort of junk in the house. At dinners and picnics, sil always makes TONS of desserts. At her youngest's birthday party on memorial day, the only healthy thing there was a veggie tray (and the kabobs that bil made weren't too bad). No fruits, just mac and potato salad, broccoli salad, hot dogs, chips, pop, etc.

    We are hosting a picnic for 4th of July and I vow to have healthy options! - 6/24/2010 8:29:12 AM
  • I was extremely overweight as a kid and now I know that my parents horrible example was to blame. It would not be unusual to have 4 or 5 plates of food at a buffet, and you WERE NOT done eating until your plate was empty. It was okay to eat a carton of ice cream if you had a bad day. It was normal to go to McD's and order a 50 piece mcnuggets and the largest size fries. Kids follow examples NOT advice! This is a great article because its stresses that you keep things positive with your children. More than likely, your overweight kid is getting teased in school and getting their self esteem hammered on, on a daily basis because of their weight. Encourage a healthy lifestyle and engage in healthy activities with your kids that will help your bodies, boost your confidence, and strengthen those parent/offspring bonds. - 5/27/2009 4:47:09 PM
  • I appreciated this issue being addressed. My son is one point below the obesity level on his BMI. We are trying to lose weight together. We met with his doctor 2 weeks ago and he and I both weighed 184 lbs. Neither of us really overeat, and we eat healthy for the most part. We are lacking enough activity however. Also the doctor recommended he only drink water and diet drinks. This was a big area of over indulgence for us both. Lattes, energy drinks, juice... not so much pop however. So I vowed to give it up with him. Since then, he has lost 4 lbs. and I have lost 7!!! Yeah. - 8/21/2008 12:00:41 AM
  • great article. Being a SPARKER, I'm talking to my children daily about their health and fitness. - 2/29/2008 5:57:04 AM