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Raising Fit Kids: Healthy Nurtition, Exercise, and Weight

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If you have a child who's overweight, praise her when she makes smart food choices or is active. But don't get in the position where you're ever rewarding weight loss, says Schwartz. Compliment a child if she grabs an apple for a snack or decides to shoot hoops after school. But don't throw a party if she loses 10 pounds.

Remember what motivates kids, says Don Morgan, PhD, director of the Center for Physical Activity and Health in Youth at Middle Tennessee State University.  If you tell them that eating right and exercising is going to help lower their cholesterol or lessen their risk for heart disease when they're 50, they'll zone out.

"They can't even think about what they're going to do later in the day," he says. "Tell them they'll be able to run faster or play basketball better. Give them a goal that they understand, that resonates with them."

Bring in the Expert

If you are worried about weight issues with your child, talk to your child's pediatrician. Mention your weight concerns at your child's next well checkup or make an appointment now to discuss your questions. 

The pediatrician can measure your child's height and weight to get his body mass index (BMI) and chart his growth if indeed your concerns are valid. You can talk with her about your family's eating habits and activity levels. She may be able to offer suggestions to help make sure your family is taking all the best steps to stay healthy.

Your pediatrician can also talk to your child about food and exercise, reinforcing the message that healthy food and regular activity will keep her body strong and help her perform better in school.

Weight and Teasing

As much as you may not want to, sometimes you have to directly address the issue of weight with your child because she comes to you. If your child mentions that she's been teased, explain how much you love her and find out how the teasing made her feel. Then work together on a plan to make her feel better while making healthy lifestyle changes.

 Get more tips on how to talk to your child when she's been teased about her weight.

 

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