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Healthy weights for children

Parents, family members and friends can all help a child whose weight is ahead of height. They can show having fun while being active, eating healthy foods and having a healthy body image are all part of a healthy life. Never place your child on a diet to lose weight.

Is my child growing well?
Read the Childhood Obesity Report.


Healthy eating

  • Healthy eating provides energy and nutrients children need to grow, develop, stay healthy and be active.

  • Children copy their parents. Enjoy healthy foods at meals and snacks to create a well-balanced diet.

  • Eat meals together as a family. This is a great way to encourage your child to try new foods and spend time together.

  • Offer regular meals and snacks so your child does not get too hungry.

  • Let your child, regardless of size; eat enough until they are comfortably full.

  • Help your child pay attention to eating by providing a relaxed eating atmosphere. Turn off the T.V and do not allow arguing during meal times.

  • Nutritious foods that can satisfy your child’s hunger include vegetables, fruit, salads, breads, cereals, bagels, mild and yogurt.

  • Do not forbid sweets and desserts. Serve them in moderation. Everyone in the family can enjoy eating well and no one should be left out of occasional treats.

  • Never use food as a reward or withhold food as a punishment.

Active living

  • Children copy their parents. Participate in regular physical activity with your child.

  • Enjoy being active as a family. Plan family activities that everyone enjoys. Try hiking, biking, swimming and going to the park.

  • Limit time spent in front of the T.V, videos and computers. Young children should be still for no more than 60 minutes at a time, except when sleeping.

  • Encourage children to play outside. They will be far more active.

  • Play together. It is a great way to spend time with your child. Try skipping, play hide and seek or kick a ball together.

  • Involve your child in family chores (raking leaves, walking the dog, shovelling snow).

  • Focus on playing team sports, not on winning the game.

  • Keep it interesting. Kids love variety. Invite friends and neighbours to make it social.

Body image

  • Children copy their parents. Appreciate your body for what it is and what it can do.

  • Let your child know that people come no a variety of shapes and size and that she is loved just as she is. Never criticize your child’s size or shape.

Risks

An alarming number of children in Canada are overweight  or obese. Between 1981 and 1996, the prevalence of obesity in children more than doubled. Obese children are at risk for a number of problems:

  • High blood pressure

  • Psychosocial difficulties, such as low self esteem

  • Type 2 diabetes (found only in adults until recently)

  • High blood cholesterol levels

Most adults find weight loss difficult to achieve and maintain. Preventing obesity in children is important to avoid health problems now and in the future.

Why are more kids overweight these days?

Inactivity is the main cause of obesity in children. Primary school-age children in Canada spend on average 25 hours per week watching TV. Internet use and computer games are also common sedentary activities. Diet also has a role to play in childhood obesity. The popularity of fast food, meals out, constant snacking, convenience foods and “super-sized” fast foods are trends in eating habits that can contribute to being overweight.

 

What you can do it your child is overweight

  • Aim for your child to grow into their current weight, not to lose weight

  • Healthy eating should apply to the whole family

  • Give your overweight child the same foods as the rest of the family. Do not single them out with different foods

  • Never tell a child that they are “on a diet” or “too fat”

It is important to keep in mind that children are growing and their nutritional requirements are quite high compared with adults. Putting kids on a diet can lead to problems with growth and development as well as being psychologically harmful. The most important part of your action plan is to focus on a more active lifestyle for your child.