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    Obesity in Children

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    How Do I Know if My Child Is Overweight?

    The best person to determine whether or not your child is overweight is your child's doctor. In determining whether or not your child is overweight, the doctor will measure your child's weight and height and compute his ''BMI,'' or body mass index, to compare this value to standard values. The doctor will also consider your child's age and growth patterns.

    How Can I Help My Overweight Child?

    If you have an overweight child, it is very important that you allow him or her to know that you will be supportive. Children's feelings about themselves often are based on their parents' feelings about them, and if you accept your children at any weight, they will be more likely to feel good about themselves. It is also important to talk to your children about their weight, allowing them to share their concerns with you.

    It is not recommended that parents set children apart because of their weight. Instead, parents should focus on gradually changing their family's physical activity and eating habits. By involving the entire family, everyone is taught healthful habits and the overweight child does not feel singled out.

    How Can I Involve My Family in Healthful Habits?

    There are many ways to involve the entire family in healthy habits, but increasing the family's physical activity is especially important. Some ways to accomplish this include:

    • Lead by example. If your children see that you are physically active and having fun, they are more likely to be active and stay active for the rest of their lives.
    • Plan family activities that provide everyone with exercise, like walking, biking, or swimming.
    • Be sensitive to your child's needs. Overweight children may feel uncomfortable about participating in certain activities. It is important to help your child find physical activities that they enjoy and that aren't embarrassing or too difficult.
    • Make an effort to reduce the amount of time you and your family spend in sedentary activities, such as watching TV or playing video games.

    Whatever approach parents choose to take regarding an overweight child, the purpose is not to make physical activity and following a healthy diet a chore, but to make the most of the opportunities you and your family have to be active and healthy.

    WebMD Medical Reference

    Reviewed by Roy Benaroch, MD on September 02, 2014
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