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Helping Children Maintain a Healthy Weight

Author: CHKD Medical Group, Dr. Charisse Carter
Published Date: Friday, January 21, 2022

By Dr. Charisse Carter, Norfolk Pediatrics

Children who are overweight may be at risk for serious physical and emotional health problems. As parents, you can help prevent obesity by leading by example with healthy diet and lifestyle choices that the whole family can follow.

Learn the risks overweight children face and tools to help them maintain a healthy weight.

Health Risks

Obese kids are at risk for serious medical conditions such as type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol.

Overweight children also are at higher risk for:

  • Bone and joint problems.
  • Shortness of breath, making physical activity more difficult, and worsening or leading kids to develop asthma.
  • Restless sleep or trouble breathing.
  • Early maturation, which can cause overweight kids to be taller and more sexually mature than their peers. Overweight girls may also have irregular menstrual cycles and fertility problems in adulthood.
  • Liver and gallbladder disease.

The cardiovascular problems that overweight kids may develop - such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes - can even lead to heart disease, heart failure, and stroke in adulthood.

Emotionally, overweight kids may develop low self-esteem and be rejected by their peers, putting them at risk for:

  • Unhealthy dieting and eating disorders.
  • Depression.
  • Substance abuse.

Prevention

No matter what age your children are, it’s important to take a whole-family approach when teaching them how to maintain a healthy weight. Letting children help plan and prepare healthy meals and come grocery shopping with you can help them learn how to make good food choices early on.

Help children avoid unhealthy relationships with food by:

  • Not correcting or rewarding behavior with the promise of treats.
  • Teaching kids that they should only eat when they’re hungry. Don’t have a clean-plate policy, which can lead to overeating.
  • Serving healthy foods a majority of the time and allowing treats every so often. Don’t completely ban sweets and snacks or label certain foods as “bad.”

Don’t forget to incorporate age-appropriate exercise into your family routine and encourage drinking more water, even flavored water, instead of sugary juices and sodas. If you are worried that your child may be overweight, speak to your pediatrician.



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About CHKD Medical Group

About CHKD Medical  Group Children’s Hospital of The King’s Daughters has been the region’s most trusted name in pediatric care for more than 50 years. As members of CHKD Health System, our pediatricians work closely with CHKD’s full range of pediatric specialists and surgeons. They also share a commitment to quality, excellence and child-centered care. With 18 practices in 29 locations throughout the region, a CHKD pediatrician is never far.