Health & Wellness Articles

Helping Your Overweight Child

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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
A certified personal trainer and fitness instructor with a bachelor's degree in health education, Nicole loves living a healthy and fit lifestyle and helping others do the same. Nicole was formerly SparkPeople's fitness expert and editor-in-chief, known on the site as "Coach Nicole." Make sure to explore more of her articles and blog posts.

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