If your child or someone you know has been diagnosed as obese, there is good news. Childhood obesity can be reversed. A diagnosis from your doctor will likely result in several treatment options and recommendations. Here’s what you can expect.
Obese Children Under 7 Years
If your child is under seven years old, then your doctor may recommend helping your child maintain their weight. The key will be to help them stay the same weight as they grow in height. In a few years their height and weight will balance out. They will have reached a healthy BMI or body mass index. The reason behind this is that dieting can be difficult if not a bit traumatic for young children who may not understand that their body weight is an issue.
It’s important to know that maintaining weight is still quite challenging for an obese child. Dietary and lifestyle changes will have to be made.
Obese Children Over 7 Years
If your child is over seven years a doctor will recommend a weight loss program. The recommendation will range from losing one pound a week to one pound a month depending on circumstances.
It’s important to note that losing weight does not mean going on a diet. It means changing eating habits and lifestyle. The difference is significant. A diet is a short-term solution. Children often return to their old eating habits and lifestyle afterwards. Dieting as a child sets them up for a life of yo-yo dieting. This is hard on a body and on a person’s self-confidence.
Other Treatments and Recommendations
Depending on the case and the age of the child, a physician may offer weight loss surgery as an option. However, weight loss surgery is generally considered a last resort. Instead, common sense strategies are recommended. Here are some of the lifestyle changes your physician will recommend regardless of the child’s age:
- No more sugary drinks
- Replace sugary and high white flour snacks with fruits, vegetables and protein
- Eat as a family
- Monitor serving size
- Eat home-cooked meals rather than fast food or restaurant meals
- Limit time with electronics to two hours or less each day
- Help your child find activities they enjoy. For example, ice skating/hockey, swimming, dancing, martial arts or team sports. Emphasize fun and activity rather than exercise.
Much of the burden to reverse childhood obesity is placed on the parents. This is because parents buy the food, make the meals, and give permission to turn on the television. As a parent the responsibility rests with you to be a good role model and to help your child learn to make healthy choices. With patience and determination, childhood obesity can be reversed.