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Children ad Weight Loss October 18, 2007

Posted by 4fitkids in Uncategorized.
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Len Saunders at Children’s Health & Fitness wrote this response to a letter:

This message is to answer Sam’s question…..

“Len, my daughter is overweight.  She does not want to be, but every time she tries to watch her eating habits, she does not lose the weight, and give up after a week.  She is 15 years old, and I worry about her socially.  What can I do?”

It is always tough for any child (or adult) to deal with weight issues.  Children’s weight loss is always about self-esteem.  Self-esteem can be low due to being overweight, but self-esteem can be what saves your child.  More about that later.

First, it is always important to go to your daughter’s pediatrician.  This way, they can evaluate the child and make sure the weight gain is purely from over-eating or lack of activity.  The doctor would be able to tell you if there was other problems causing the weight issues.  Next, it may be important to go to a nutritionist.  This way, your child will be eating the correct foods.  Lastly, talk to your child’s physical education teacher to get some input on a safe exercise routine for your child.  Once you get the green light from all three of these professionals, the parent must work with the child on the weight loss program.

In many cases, a child will expect the weight loss to occur very quickly.  They need to understand it will take a substantial period of time to lose weight.  Many children get frustrated and quit after a week because they are not seeing the results they would like to see.  Talk with the pediatrician to find out healthy weight loss goals per week, and set your standards from there.  A good combination of healthy diet and exercise will do the trick for most children.  Add in to this equation proper sleep habits, and drinking an adequate amount of water each day.

Now, this is where the self-esteem issue mentioned earlier fits it.  As written, most children get frustrated when they do not see results right away.  They are children, this is the only way they know how to measure success.  When they start to get frustrated, talk to them about self-esteem.  Ask them how they feel on their weight loss program. When they become negative about it due to lack of success, explain to them how they should actually feel proud of what they have accomplished in such a short period of time.  Tell them how they feel healthier since they started to diet and exercise program.  Increase and build their self-esteem through that notion. BUILD on the positive, and set realistic goals with your child.  The longer the child stays on the program, the more positive results will occur.  It is not going to happen overnight.  Use self-esteem as a tool to motivate.  Even after one week with no results, make the child feel proud about ‘feeling’ healthier, and how they showed strong will power.  There has to be a starting point somewhere, and every child’s starting point will be different.

Key points:

  1. Always get approval from your pediatrician to start any child on a diet
    and exercise program.
  2. Monitor what your child eats.
  3. Monitor your child’s activity level.
  4. Let them know they are doing well because they are starting to feel
    healthier.
  5. Results will not happen overnight.
  6. Children’s weight loss be not occur right away.  Sometimes, building
    muscle mass and drinking more water may give the illusion of no weight loss.  One goal of an exercise program is to build lean body mass while reducing fat mass.  Lean body mass weights more.
  7. Use self-esteem in your favor, not against you.
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