Obesity is a danger for around 18.5% of American children, this is a staggering figure, and one that should frighten us. As parents, we don’t always have control over what our child eats and the prevalence of brightly colored, addictive and sugary snacks that are targeted at our children is only increasing.
Furthermore, some children are more prone to putting on weight than others, whether that be because of genetics or a health condition. Some parents are so desperate to help their children that they turn to medications to help their child’s weight. This is the last resort for most, as many obesity drugs have been found to have serious side effects, such as Saxenda. Click here for more info on Saxenda.
There are ways to help them lose weight without affecting their self-esteem, here are some ways you can help:
Don’t Put Them Down
Firstly, don’t put your child down for being overweight. Having issues with their own body can make them want to eat more or it could have the opposite effect and your child could wind up malnourished and go into eating disorder territory.
Instead, focus on making changes for good health, as opposed to appearance and make your child feel confident by letting them make some of their own choices and praising them.
Be a Good Role Model
Children copy behavior, so if you are eating well and getting exercise then they are more likely to do the same. This also means that you will have less junk food in the house for them to eat.
You can also find a physical activity that you both enjoy and use it as a good time to bond. It might be going for walks, swimming, cycling or perhaps something different like hula-hooping or Zumba.
It sounds obvious but make sure they are eating healthy, even when it comes to snacks and drinks. For example, sugary drinks can be a big culprit for people putting on weight. If your child has a snack they love, try to find a way to make it more healthy. Encourage your child to try new, nutritious dishes as well.
Top tip – frozen fruit makes a great alternative to sweets, grapes are my personal favorite, just be sure to cut them in half for little ones as they can be a choking hazard.
One major downfall for people that causes them to put on weight is eating too much. Even healthy food can be overeaten. Sometimes we do not feel full until some time after we eat, which can cause us to overeat to begin with.
Put out your child’s food and then put any leftovers in the fridge so that they can’t come back for more. You can read more about portioning food for children here.
Encourage Daily Physical Activity
If possible, then walk to school together or walk your dog or an elderly neighbor’s dog. You could also encourage them to join clubs with their friends. Some children hate anything that they think resembles exercise so you might have to be creative. Perhaps a dance focused video game (like DDR) or treasure hunt.
You could also consider dancing together when they have finished their homework or have a competition as to who can do the most star jumps!
Less Screen Time and More Sleep
Sitting watching a screen makes people want to snack. For children, this may partly be because they are bored. If they have other things to do with their hands they won’t feel the need to snack.
Furthermore, lack of sleep has been tied to weight gain. Watching a screen before bed causes all of us to have lower-quality sleep. Restricting screen time and removing it before bed could make a big difference.