One of the most important things you can do to help overweight children
is to let them know that they are okay whatever their weight. Children's
feelings about themselves often are based on their parents' feelings
about them. If you accept your children at any weight, they will be more
likely to accept and feel good about themselves. It is also important to
talk to your children about weight, allowing them to share their
concerns with you. Your child probably knows better than anyone else
that he or she has a weight problem. For this reason, overweight
children need support, acceptance, and encouragement from their parents.
Focus on the family.
Parents should try not to set children apart because of their weight,
but focus on gradually changing their family's physical activity and
eating habits. Family involvement helps to teach everyone healthful
habits and does not single out the overweight child.
Increase your family's physical activity.
Regular physical activity, combined with healthy eating habits, is the
most efficient and healthful way to control your weight. It is also an
important part of a healthy lifestyle. Some simple ways to increase your
family's physical activity include the following:
The point is not to make physical activity an unwelcome chore, but to
make the most of the opportunities you and your family have to be
Teach your family healthy eating habits.
Teaching healthy eating practices early will help children approach
eating with the right attitude-that food should be enjoyed and is
necessary for growth, development, and for energy to keep the body
running. The best way to begin is to learn more about children's
nutritional needs by reading or talking with a health professional and
then to offer them some healthy options, allowing your children to
choose what and how much they eat. The pamphlet "Dietary Guidelines for
Americans" is a good source of dietary advice for healthy Americans ages
2 years and older. This pamphlet is available from WIN.
- Be a role model for your children. If your children see that you are
physically active and have 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 and
enjoyment, like walking, dancing, biking, or swimming. For example,
schedule a walk with your family after dinner instead of watching TV.
Make sure that you plan activities that can be done in a safe
- 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.
- Reduce the amount of time you and your family spend in sedentary
activities, such as watching TV or playing video games.
- Become more active throughout your day and encourage your family to do
so as well. For example, walk up the stairs instead of taking the
elevator, or do some activity during a work or school break-get up and
stretch or walk around.