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Raising Fit Kids: Healthy Nurtition, Exercise, and Weight

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Help for Your Overweight Child: 2 to 5 Years Old

As a parent, it can be difficult to know the difference between overweight and healthy weight in a child this young. Many kids still have baby fat from their infant years, while others may appear thin. One study found that parents tend to underestimate their preschooler's weight. This means that your child could be overweight, and you may not even realize it.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends BMI screening starting at age 2, so it's a good idea to talk with your pediatrician about your child's weight at every visit.

Here are some questions you can ask the pediatrician about your 2- to 5-year-old.

  • What can I do to help my child develop healthy eating habits at this age?
  • How many meals a day should my child be eating?
  • What is a healthy snack?
  • What are appropriate portion sizes for my child?
  • How can our family change our eating habits to help our child?

Help for Your Overweight Child: 5 to 12 Years Old

If your grade-school child is overweight, her health care provider will likely recommend that you focus on maintaining her current weight as she gets taller so that she can grow into her weight.

Questions to ask your pediatrician about your overweight child in grade school:

  • How can I get my child to pick healthy foods without nagging her all the time?
  • How can I talk to my child about the food she sees on TV?
  • Can you recommend activities she might like? She stays indoors more and more these days.
  • How can I decrease TV and video game time for my child?
  • How will puberty affect my child's weight?

Help for Your Overweight Child: 13 to 18 years old

When your teen is overweight, one thing his health care provider will assess is how far along he is in his growth and physical maturity. Teens who still have a lot of growing to do still need calories and nutrients to fuel that growth, so as with younger kids, they may be advised to decrease weight gain or hold their weight steady for a while. If your teen is through puberty or is very overweight or obese, particularly if he has associated problems such as diabetes or signs of diabetes, medically supervised weight loss may be recommended.

These are great topics to discuss with your teen's health care provider.

  • How can I motivate my overweight teen to eat healthier without making him feel bad about himself?
  • Are some foods better than others when he goes out with his friends? What are some better choices in fast-food restaurants or malls?
  • My teenager always seems hungry. Is this normal?
  • How much physical activity should he get per day, and what will help him achieve that goal?
  • How much more growing do you think my teen will do? Will it be enough to help him grow into his weight?
  • Do we need to think about other ways to help make his weight healthier for his age?

 

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