Ask Dr. Kate Roberts: A Parent’s Concerns about Her Child’s Weight

UnknownDr. Kate: My 10 year old son has always been large for his age, but now I’m concerned that he is overweight. His doctor mentioned that his weight is up and I’m at a loss for what to do. My son is starting to call himself fat, all the while he continues to over eat. With all the festivities and goodies during the holidays, followed by sluggish winter months, I’m really concerned he’s going to gain when he really needs to lose weight. What can I do?

Answer: Thank you so much for your question. You are not alone in your concerns. The holidays are a big concern for many people regarding weight gain. It’s helpful to be aware that children who are already overweight are at risk to overeat and gain even more weight over time, thus causing cumulative weight gain that can result in obesity, especially if you don’t help them curb their eating during the holidays.

Here are some things to do to help your son to have a healthy lifestyle, leading to a healthy weight:

Adopt a healthy lifestyle for the entire family. What this means is that you have to eat healthy and your children will follow you. When my son was injured and had to do physical therapy, I knew that the fastest way to get him to do his exercises was for me to do them with him. It worked. Don’t go on a diet; do adopt a family program of healthy eating. If you don’t know where to begin, try for recipes for healthy family meals.

Be active every day. If your son is sedentary, find a way to be active together. Ideally to lose weight, he needs to burn more calories than he takes in. If you start slow with 10-15 minutes of activity a day, plan to work up to 45-60 minutes daily. Find the sport that he most enjoys and plan to do it together. If there is none, then plan to walk daily or use the workout programs on the Wii or Xbox. When everyone in the house is active, there are no excuses.

Educate the family on the benefit of being healthy. Discuss the increase in lifespan for healthy people and the decrease in diseases such as heart disease and dia- betes. Focus on the positives and stay away from the negatives and use of critical terms such as “fat” and “heavy”.

Change sedentary lifestyles. Even when you can’t all be active, find ways to have more activity by using stairs instead of elevators. Walk whenever you can and park at a distance when you drive. Even consider standing instead of sitting. Recent studies show that people who use standing work stations instead of sitting increase their life- span and are at less risk for diseases. Standing keeps the body active, whereas sitting is passive and promotes inactivity and decreased blood flow.

Skip the snacks. Don’t buy the junk and drink water instead of soda to keep the body hydrated and flushed.

Find rewards beyond food. Reward your family with the chance to do a new, fun activity or to have more quality family time.



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This feature is brought to you, courtesy of Dr. Kate and North Shore Children & Families.