Managing obesity and overweight in children

April 2, 2008

Encourage your child to observe healthful behaviors, develop healthy eating habits, and be physically active.

Key Points

If your child is overweight, he/she may feel self-conscious about his/her appearance and be teased by classmates, which damages self-esteem. Being overweight also can have serious physical consequences. Compared with normal-weight children, those who are overweight are far more likely to develop diabetes, heart disease, liver disease, and orthopedic problems, among other health concerns.

Modifications in three areas can help control weight: diet, exercise, and eating-related behavior patterns. But even a child who is highly motivated to make these modifications is unlikely to succeed unless his/her family is committed to making healthful lifestyle changes as well (see subsequent tables).

Nothing is more important than being a good role model for your child, by being physically active, and eating a healthy diet. Reward your child (but not with food) when he/she succeeds in following a healthy new behavior, such as eating only one dessert a week, but don't give rewards for losing weight.

Encourage your child to develop healthy eating habits

Encourage your child to be physically active

Adapted from Guide for Parents, Contemp Pediatr 2006;23(3):108