Helping Kids Lose Weight

Helping Kids Lose Weight Doesn’t Have to be Hard!

helping kids lose weightThe statistics on adult obesity and overweight Americans are startling and frequently in the news, but a bigger concern should be the effect it is having on our children. When kids have poor role models, it is no wonder the rates of childhood obesity are climbing just as fast.  According to the CDC, here are some facts on childhood obesity:

  • Childhood obesity has more than doubled in children and tripled in adolescents in the past 30 years.1, 2
  • The percentage of children aged 6–11 years in the United States who were obese increased from 7% in 1980 to nearly 18% in 2010. Similarly, the percentage of adolescents aged 12–19 years who were obese increased from 5% to 18% over the same period1, 2
  • In 2010, more than one third of children and adolescents were overweight or obese.1
  • Overweight is defined as having excess body weight for a particular height from fat, muscle, bone, water, or a combination of these factors.3 Obesity is defined as having excess body fat.4
  • Overweight and obesity are the result of “caloric imbalance”—too few calories expended for the amount of calories consumed—and are affected by various genetic, behavioral, and environmental factors.5,6

 What can we do to help kids lose weight?helping kids lose weight 3

So what can we as parents and ultimate role models do to help kids learn to eat healthier, get more exercise, and reach normal weight levels that they can take into adulthood with them???  Not much different from what adults should be doing:

  • Find an exercise that is fun, motivating, and something that they can do on a regular basis (maybe even something you can do together!) PE and Recess at school is not enough – minimum 30 minutes of getting their heart rates up to the appropriate level for their age/weight (check with their pediatrician before starting something new to be sure it is safe for them to do so)
  • Find healthy recipes that everyone likes and make dinner a family activity to prepare and enjoy together – everyone should get to choose at least one favorite meal a week and look forward to it rather than feel they’re being punished by “being on a diet” – get a new cookbook that has things kids love such as “Kid Favorites Made Healthy” (Better Homes and Garden)
  • Limit the junk food and sodas – find healthier alternatives that they help choose and enjoy like , fruit, trail-mix, fruit snacks, popcorn, and low-sugar juices or flavored 0 calorie waters – for splurge days, make it about going out of the house to get it – like a trip to the ice cream store on occasion – just keep it out of the house and definitely away from in front of the TV or gaming devices
  • Create challenges – kids love games, so anything you can do to encourage them to be successful and be rewarded with non-food items will give them something to work for and compete with you, siblings, or even just themselves – put a chart on the wall where everyone can post their goals, progress, and successes – even for just little things like “did not eat any junk today” – gold star!  How many gold stars in a week will earn a “family bowling night” (you fill in what you like here)
  • Make it about everyone – no one needs to be singled out, made to feel bad, or nagged and everyone in the family can benefit from having the junk removed from the pantries and having a regular, healthy meal plan that just becomes the way of life in the home

tonykid_210_thumbIf you’re having trouble finding an activity or exercise that your child likes and can do on a regular bases, try one of these program from Tony Horton and Shaun T – kids love them and several schools in our area are starting to offer them as an after school program.


  1. Ogden CL, Carroll MD, Kit BK, Flegal KM. Prevalence of obesity and trends in body mass index among US children and adolescents, 1999-2010. Journal of the American Medical Association2012;307(5):483-490.
  2. National Center for Health Statistics. Health, United States, 2011: With Special Features on Socioeconomic Status and Health. Hyattsville, MD; U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; 2012.
  3. National Institutes of Health, National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. Disease and Conditions Index: What Are Overweight and Obesity? Bethesda, MD: National Institutes of Health; 2010.
  4. Krebs NF, Himes JH, Jacobson D, Nicklas TA, Guilday P, Styne D. Assessment of child and adolescent overweight and obesity. Pediatrics 2007;120:S193–S228.
  5. Daniels SR, Arnett DK, Eckel RH, et al. Overweight in children and adolescents: pathophysiology, consequences, prevention, and treatment. Circulation 2005;111;1999–2002.
  6. Office of the Surgeon General. The Surgeon General’s Vision for a Healthy and Fit Nation.  [pdf 840K]. Rockville, MD, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; 2010.
  7. Freedman DS, Zuguo M, Srinivasan SR, Berenson GS, Dietz WH. Cardiovascular risk factors and excess adiposity among overweight children and adolescents: the Bogalusa Heart Study. Journal of Pediatrics 2007;150(1):12–17.

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