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Helping Your Overweight Child

Por Alvin N. Eden, M.D. -
Helping Your Overweight Child

Unfortunately, more children are growing up overweight.  You, as a mother or father, are responsible in doing everything in your reach to prevent that your child develop health problems in the future, related to excess weight, like diabetes, hypertension or heart problems.

Prevention is the key.  The first thing to do is prevent that your child gain excess weight.  Once your child is obese, it’s harder for them to lose the extra pounds. The evidence is clear. It is much easier and more effective to prevent obesity than to treat it.

There are simple sensible principles, yet effective, that can be followed in order to raise a child who won’t have to fight against obesity. 

  1. Arm your house with healthy choices.

One easy way to to provide a child with a healthy and nutritious diet that does not have an abundance of calories, is to keep healthy choices in your home. This means keeping only minimal amounts of less nutritious foods around such as: soft drinks, cookies, cakes, pastries, potato chips and donuts. Instead of having these types foods available for snacks, fill your refrigerator with fresh fruit and vegetables, low-fat yogurt, low-fat cheese and unsweetened fruit juices. If your child is used to having these foods in the house, they will likely be unhappy at first about the change, but don't back down. Be prepared for your child to complain. They will say, “There is nothing decent to eat around here.” Simply smile and suggest a nutritional snack. Just say, “This is the way we eat in our house. We love you and are interested in your health.”

    2.  Encourage your child to be active.

If your child does not get enough physical activity on a regular basis, he/she will not burn enough calories each day to maintain a normal weight. Overcrowding, increased automobile traffic, less green space, and fewer play areas all reduce opportunities for kids to run around and play. Too much TV, increased home computer use, and video games make easy for your child to become sedentary and physically inactive. Children’s lack of physical activity is widespread in the United States and is becoming a bigger problem each year. According to the latest statistics, over 50% of children in grades 5 to 12 exercise less than twenty minutes a day, three times a week.  Compared to twenty years ago, walking and bicycling have decreased by 40%.Every child deserves daily physical education sessions. Encourage your child to get involved in regular daily exercise outside of school. It’s always a good idea to set the right example by exercising regularly yourself.

     3.  Emphasize low-fat and low-cholesterol foods.

If you can get your child accustomed to eating low-fat, low-cholesterol meals and snacks, they will have a lower risk of developing heart problems later on in life.

      4.  Cut down on salt.

Teach your child to eat and enjoy less salty food and to not sprinkle extra salt on it. By doing so, he/she will decrease their risk of developing high blood pressure as an adult.

      5.  Limit foods with large amounts of sugar.

Cut down on the junk foods (foods like candy and soda that contain mainly refined sugar). This type of food provides “empty” calories that have little or no nutritional value but are high in calories.

     6.  Include enough iron.

Many studies have shown that iron deficiency and iron deficiency anemia are associated with poor learning and the impairment of mental development. Prevent your child from becoming iron deficient by ensuring they eat enough iron-rich foods, such as: liver, lean red meats, beans, enriched grain products, greens, chicken and turkey. Make sure your child eats a diet that is rich in iron. If your youngster is a poor eater, a daily iron supplement may be needed. Always make sure to consult your doctor before giving any supplements.

     7.  Add more fiber. 

Fiber will help your child’s digestion, and there is also evidence that shows that it helps protect against a number of gastrointestinal illnesses including appendicitis and diverticulitis, as well as cancer of the colon and rectum. Fresh fruits and vegetables and whole grains are good sources of fiber.

Always reme mber that it is important to set an example


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