Childhood obesity is one of the hottest health topics among doctors today. According to the CDC, the incidence of childhood obesity has more than doubled with children and quadrupled with adolescents in the last 30 years. Obesity is having excess body fat, or a body mass index (BMI) of 30% or over for most pediatricians. Obesity can be genetic, but many factors—such as eating habits—are environmental and can be changed.
If your child is overweight or already obese, there are ways to turn the situation around. At Green Hill Pediatrics, we want all our young patients and their parents to be as healthy as possible.
Eliminate the Word “Fat”
The first way to help an obese child is to stop using “fat talk” on yourself and on the child. For example, don’t say, “Stop eating those cookies or you’ll get fat.” Say, “Cookies are okay once in a while, but healthy snacks are good for you.”
Involve the Whole Family
Your child will know if you’re making diet and exercise changes because of him or her. It’s better to help the whole family become healthier. Do exercises you enjoy, and look for healthy recipes that also taste good. For example, if your family always has pizza on Fridays, keep the tradition but make a grilled pizza instead of ordering out. Instead of screen time, go for a walk or play a game together to exercise minds as well as bodies.
Use Food Correctly
Many families encounter weight problems because they use food as a reward or punishment (for example, “Eat your broccoli or no dessert”). This often leads to disorders such as binge eating or anorexia nervosa. All foods, including treats, should be eaten in moderation. Encourage everyone to try a little of everything. Accept that your kids won’t like some things, and get them involved in choosing and cooking foods so they find more things they do like.