According to the CDC, the rate of child obesity in the United States has tripled since the 1970s. Obesity at any age can lead to metabolic syndrome that includes negative health symptoms such as elevated blood glucose levels due to insulin resistance and problems with lipids (cholesterol) levels in the blood. These issues can lead to diabetes, heart disease, kidney failure and many more negative health outcomes.
If your doctor advises you that your child needs to lose weight, it is important to take it seriously and take appropriate measures to help with weight loss.
Here are just a few things that you can do:
Cut the Junk
Your whole family could benefit from a junk food fast. Set a time period to go without processed snack foods and fast-food meal choices. Eliminate the consumption of sugary drinks. Eliminating one bottled, fountain or can of a sugary drink per day can save 150 to 300 calories. That saves up to 2,100 calories per week. Considering there are about 3,500 calories in a pound of body fat, it can take as little as two sugary drinks per week to gain a pound. Experiment with drinks made from low-calorie sweeteners to find alternative beverage options. Anyone can get used to the different tastes of diet drinks by trying them in small amounts of time.
Rather than just instructing your child to put down the video game controller and get outside, you should encourage some outdoor activities. Walking is a popular way to burn calories and lose weight, but it takes brisk walking to increase health benefits. A brisk walk is covering one mile in 15 minutes or less. Every moment spent moving is burning more calories than sitting on the couch playing video games. Go for family bike rides. Find local walking trails. Make time to participate in exercise as a family. The do-as-I-say-and-not-as-I-do approach is not going to work with your child.
Incentivize Weight Loss
Help your child set goals and you offer incentives. Everyone is motivated by something, and you know the things your child wants. Exercise activity, avoiding junk food and losing a set amount of weight can all be incentivized. Small achievements in weight loss goals earn small incentives. Larger milestones earn larger incentives. Just saying you will buy them something for losing five pounds is not enough. Goals should be for diet, exercise and losing weight, and they should be well defined. For example, eating more vegetables and fruits, walking or biking extra miles, and reaching a weekly weight loss goal can all be incentivized with anything from cash to privileges. Keep it fun and keep the goals realistic.
Provide the Tools Needed
It is hard to resist eating junk food when the cupboards are filled with boxed and bagged snacks. Just getting rid of the junk food does not help either. Healthy, low-calorie and good tasting alternatives need to be substituted. Good walking shoes help in racking up the miles without getting sore legs and feet. Soaking in a hot tub improves metabolism, and it is something the entire family can enjoy. Even a new bicycle can encourage more activity. Wearable fitness devices that track everything from steps to heart rate can be a motivator if the whole family gets on board to share stats and compete with one another.
Helping your child lose weight is not something you can start and then let take its course. You need to be vigilant as well as patient. You need to encourage as well as make some demands. As the parent, it is not easy to balance your position of coach, dietary and activity enforcer, and being a listening ear when things are not going as planned. However, the benefits of helping your child reach a healthy weight goal and activity level is incalculable in the long term. What you do now to help your child lose weight, eat healthy and get sufficient exercise can literally be a life saver.
This is a guest post written by Hannah Whittenly. Hannah is a freelance writer from Sacramento, California. A mother of two, Hannah enjoys writing on blogs of all niches.