Obesity + Children: Helpful Weight Loss Tips
Mama’s it’s time to get your child on the healthy lifestyle train. Childhood obesity is at an alarming rate, which continues to rise. According to the CDC, approximately 17% (or 12.5 million) of children and adolescents aged 2-19 years are obese. This trend has almost tripled since 1980, a trend that is putting many children at risk for a multitude of health problems – from cardiovascular disease to high blood pressure to early type 2 diabetes. So what has changed in the last 33 years? The food supply! If you walk into the supermarket, almost 80% of the food on the shelves are processed and loaded with tons of added sugar. Let’s not forget the fast food joints that are quick, fast, convenient and coupled with a pretty packaged toy for your child. It’s time to do things differently, and educate yourself (or hire someone) and child on the importance of healthy eating and staying active. Kids should be having fun and enjoying life not sad and depressed due to weight issues. Here are four tips to help you switch their circumstance in a healthy and loving way.
It All Starts With You. If you are overweight as well, change starts with you. I’ve had moms tell me they want their child to lose weight, but never factor themselves into the equation. Your child looks up to you and you are their role model. You have to make healthy changes in your life and they will follow. You don’t have to do a complete 360 in one day, just start by introducing healthier options. Studies have shown that a child’s risk of obesity greatly increases if one or more parent is overweight or obese. Even if you are not overweight this still applies, as being healthy isn’t always reflective of your outward appearance.
Make It A Family Affair. The worst thing you could do is single out your child and have them eat differently from everyone else. Healthy eating should be a priority for the family, and it’ll create an environment of unity. So the “skinny” child shouldn’t be free to stuff their face with cookies and you have your overweight child eating an apple. It’ll create an environment of isolation and a host of other psychological issues for your child. You can also get your kids involved by letting them help you plan and prepare healthy meals. Take them along when you go grocery shopping so they can learn how to make good food choices.
Get Your Kid Moving. With the advancements in technology and video game consoles, came the age of sedentary life for kids. Your kid should not be watching hours and hours of TV and /or playing video games. Get out and play with your kid. Take them to the park and have them play on the playground. Bike riding is also a fun active thing to do with your child. One thing I’ll let slide on the game console is Wii Fit! That’s a fun way to get moving and not make exercise feel like a chore. There are afterschool programs and places like the YMCA that offer a host of fun active things for your kids to do. I know busy schedules get in the way sometimes but it doesn’t excuse finding activities to keep them active. One thing I do caution against is sending your child to the gym, it should be about being active while having fun.
Watch What You Say. Telling your child that they need to lose weight or making them feel isolated will have a negative impact on their emotional psyche. Your child is well aware of their struggle so teasing and making jokes, or making references to their weight will make them feel even worst. When a child is unhappy they are more likely to develop bad dieting habits as they get holder, develop eating disorders, suffer from depression and prone to substance abuse. You should always serve as their cheerleader and help them transition to a healthier lifestyle. Always make your kid feel like you love them no matter what size/weight they are and that you just want them to be happy and healthy.
Much of what kids eat to day is quick and easy meals that are either pre-packaged, or from the drive through because it’s a fast option. Don’t let the excuse of “I don’t have time” jeopardize your family’s health. Make time to prepare healthy meals for your family and for being active. You will notice positive changes in their behavior and attitude; plus you reap the benefit of a happy and healthy environment. Remember, it’s all about balance so you and your family can still enjoy your favorite treats in moderation.
Vanessa Cunningham is a nutrition and lifestyle coach and dynamic speaker based in New York City. She helps her clients get out of their own way and take charge of their health and wellness. Trained in over 100 dietary theories, Vanessa creates customized plans for all her clients that are fun, sustainable and empower them to meet their goals. She has also been featured on The Huffington Post, Essence.com and MindBodyGreen. To learn more about her nutrition courses and upcoming events, head over to her website: