Now is the best time for an overweight kid to lose weight. According to "Family Doctor," the longer a person remains overweight, the more challenging it is to lose the weight. Maintaining a healthy weight as a child can prevent obesity related health problems, like high cholesterol, high blood pressure and diabetes, from developing in the future. There are many things overweight kids can do to start losing weight now.
- Skill level:
Help your child set and record realistic weight loss goals. The Mayo Clinic recommends writing down goals and the progress made toward meeting them. Base goals on behaviour your child can actually change. Instead of setting a goal of losing 2.27kg. by next week, set a goal of exercising 30 minutes a day every day this week. Every day, your child should write down the date he exercised, what he did and how long he did it. Another goal could be to avoid snacks between meals. Every day, your child should write down what he ate that day, when he ate it, and whether it was a meal or a snack between meals.
Encourage your children to stand up and move. Sitting around watching TV, playing video games and texting doesn't help them lose weight. Limit children to one hour of "screen time" on school days, when they have to sit for hours in class. Instead of texting their friends after school, get them to play basketball, ride bikes or walk around the mall.
Eat healthy meals. Start with a breakfast of whole grain cereal, fruit, and skimmed milk or yoghurt. Instead of letting the kids buy pizza or chicken strips in the school cafeteria, pack a nutritious lunch at home. Some ideas for simple lunches that can help kids lose weight are a peanut butter and fruit jam sandwich, an insulated container full of broth-based soup with whole grain crackers or a pocket bread sandwich filled with leftover chicken or turkey. Teach kids to love water. Avoid sports drinks, sweetened fruit drinks and carbonated beverages, even if they contain some fruit juice.
Get the whole family involved. Discuss the family's individual weight loss goals and support progress toward those goals. Go grocery shopping with your kids to make everyone accountable for choosing healthy foods. Instead of stopping at the drive-through for fast food, plan and cook meals together. Set up exercise classes and fitness camps at home for the family. Walk the dog together as a group. If you don't have a dog, offer to walk a neighbour's dog. If your family likes to read, walk or ride your bikes to the library. If your children like to write stories or create art, take them for a walk outside for inspiration.
Assess your child's success. Setbacks are inevitable, but over time your child's weight should drop. Weigh in every week and track your progress on paper. Adjust your goals every week to keep them challenging and fresh and to keep your weight loss on track. Reward your child when he loses weight, but don't use food as a reward. Alternative rewards could include an extra hour of screen time during the week, a lesson in a new sport or a new skateboard, tennis racket or bike.
Tips and warnings
- As long as you are growing, some weight gain is natural. Don't set unhealthy weight loss goals if you are just a few pounds overweight. You could grow tall enough to make your weight normal for your height.