Over the past two decades, the number of overweight children has increased significantly. Today, at least one in five children in the United States is overweight. So why is childhood obesity such a problem? A few of the major reasons include the increase in the number of hours children spend watching television, a lack of physical activity and the availability of processed foods and fast food restaurants.
It is important for parents to teach their child that increased activity, along with good nutrition, work together to improve their overall health.
In most cases, it is not recommended that a child be placed on a diet. Limiting what a child eats can affect growth and development and may lead to an eating disorder. However, if your child has a severe weight problem and is placed on a restrictive diet it should only be done under the supervision of a physician or registered dietician.
If your child is overweight focus on getting fit, not losing weight. By doing so, you can teach your child healthy habits that will follow throughout his or her lifetime. Some simple ways to help your child get fit include:
In addition to physical activity, healthy eating habits are important in finding a weight that is acceptable for your child. Developing a healthy diet might be easier than you think. There are simple things you, as a parent, can do to help your child make healthy eating choices without limiting his or her diet.
Although most children can lose weight and become fit by making minor changes to their lifestyle, there are some children who need more help. If a physician determines that a weight problem could affect your child’s health, he or she may recommend a supervised weight loss program or refer you to a registered dietician. Never allow your child to take diet pills, go on a fad diet or engage in an extreme exercise program. These weight loss methods can be dangerous to your child’s health and can cause poor habits that may last a lifetime. If you feel your child is a compulsive overeater, is depressed or is trying to lose weight but doesn’t need to, contact a physician right away.