If Your Child Needs Treatment for Weight Issues
For overweight children, the most successful treatment combines healthy lifestyle changes—improved diet combined with exercise—with a focus on changing such behaviors as eating while watching TV. Overweight children also need psychological support to deal with the lack of self-esteem and social isolation they often face.
What about drugs or surgery? Most doctors consider them last resorts for severely overweight adolescents with other serious risk factors.
If you're worried about your child's weight, talk with your doctor. Depending on your child's weight and age, the goal might be simply to stabilize your child's weight so that, as he or she gets taller, your child "grows into" a more appropriate weight. Or, the goal might be to gradually lose and keep off excess pounds.
What if your doctor suggests a treatment program? Look for a program that involves both you and your child. This is especially important with younger children, because you're the one who's buying and preparing the food.
What to look for
Experts say a child's weight-control program should also:
Employ a variety of health professionals. The best programs may include registered dietitians, exercise physiologists, pediatricians, family doctors, psychologists, and in some cases, psychiatrists.
Evaluate your child's medical status. A doctor should review your child's weight, growth, and health before enrollment. During enrollment, a health professional should continue to monitor your child's weight, height, growth, and health.
Fit the age and unique capabilities of your child. Programs for 4-year-olds differ from those for 12-year-olds. They place differing degrees of responsibility on the child and on the parents.
Focus on behavioral changes.
Teach your child to select a variety of foods in the right portions.
Encourage daily activity and limit sedentary activity like watching TV.
Once your child has achieved a healthy weight, be sue to include a maintenance program to reinforce new behaviors and deal with issues that led to the weight problem in the first place.
Be a role model for your child in terms of eating habits and regular exercise.
Beans, Bruce E.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Healthy Weight/Assessing Your Weight/BMS/Child and Teen Calculatorhttp://apps.nccd.cdc.gov/dnpabmi/ <a href="" target="_blank"></a>
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Childhood Obesityhttp://www.cdc.gov/healthyyouth/obesity/facts.htm <a href="" target="_blank"></a>
US Department of Agriculture. Be a Healthy Role Model for Children 10 Tips for Setting Good Exampleshttp://www.choosemyplate.gov/food-groups/downloads/TenTips/DGTipsheet12BeAHealthyRoleModel.pdf <a href="" target="_blank"></a>
American Academy of Pediatrics. Weight Loss Programshttp://www.healthychildren.org/English/health-issues/conditions/obesity/Pages/Weight-Loss-Programs.aspx <a href="" target="_blank"></a>
American Academy of Pediatrics. Downsizing a Super Sized Problem/Curbing Childhood Obesityhttp://www.healthychildren.org/English/healthy-living/nutrition/Pages/Healthy-Active-Living-for-Families.aspx <a href="" target="_blank"></a>
Online Medical Reviewer:
Bowers, Laurie, RN
Online Medical Reviewer:
MMI board-certified, academically affiliated clinician
Date Last Reviewed:
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