Most everyone is aware of the obesity fact that two-thirds of the American population is overweight and one-third of those individuals are obese. These statistics are for both children and adults according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). And while most everyone is aware of the ways to lose weight through old-fashioned calorie restriction and increased activity, most people may be unaware that this strategy is best for adults but not for children.
So what is the best weight loss program for children? How does a parent or caregiver of an overweight or obese child help with weight loss? Read on to learn more.
Weight loss programs for children are unique from adults because of essential nutrition a child needs for good health. Weight loss in general requires eliminating excess calories from the diet that is normally needed for a healthy weight. The scientific fact that one pound of fat equals 3500 calories will never change. Eliminating calories to lose excess fat or body weight requires a restriction in daily intake, an increase in physical activity above normal activities, or a combination of both. When calories are restricted, nutrition may suffer as well.
The nutritional needs of a growing child are dependent on age. Regardless of the age of the child, it is not safe to restrict calories unless supervised by a medical profession such as a doctor or dietician.
A better approach for weight loss programs for children is to provide a nutritionally balanced meal plan with the appropriate calories for the child's age and to encourage increases in physical activity.
Here are some tips for parents and caregivers to help reduce weight in children.
Know a normal body mass index for your child. Body mass index is a standardized measurement of a healthy weight range for children and adults. Body mass index is more accurate than the bathroom scale because it takes into account the height as well as the weight of the individual. Also, body mass index provides a range rather for a healthy weight rather than a simple reading. This range allows for individual flexibility in weight rather than a strict number to try to maintain. You can measure your child's body mass index by using this calculator http://apps.nccd.cdc.gov/dnpabmi/.
Learn the amount of daily calories needed for your child. The MyPyramid resource is excellent for learning the amount of daily calories your child needs for a healthy weight based on age. You can use this tool from the MyPyramid site as a reference: http://www.choosemyplate.gov/foodgroups/emptycalories_amount.html. Once you know the recommended amount of daily calories for your child, you can provide healthy daily meals that stay within these recommendations. Maintaining the required calories for your child will prevent excess weight gain.
Establish good eating and exercise habits young. It is never too early to show your child proper nutrition and exercise. Remember as parents and caregivers we are the primary teachers for our children. Being a positive role model is a big responsibility but it also has rewards. For example, you gain the same healthy benefits as your child the more you practice good habits. And even simple daily tasks help burn calories. Plus, being a positive role model is like free insurance that provides peace of mind because your child takes the good habits with them even when they are around their friends. In fact, establishing good habits young may prevent your child from negative peer pressure!
Stock the house with healthy food choices. We are all victims of our environment. When the food pantry or fridge is stocked with high calorie foods and we're hungry or bored, it is a good chance we'll eat what is available. Besides young children cannot drive to the grocery store and must depend on others to stock the house with healthy foods.
Learn and teach your child how to use food labels. Make a game out of shopping by showing your child the food label. Give a prize for healthy choices selections of low-fat and high nutritional value. Shopping with children can be especially challenging because grocery stores and packages are designed to catch children's attention. The average height of the shopping cart which gives your child an eye-level view of foods packaged with images of popular cartoon characters can be very enticing to children. Use these marketing strategies to your advantage by comparing food labels of healthier foods and reward your child for good choices.
Limit fast food. It is no surprise that Americans eat on the run and our children are doing the same. Fast food restaurants make it easy for us to eat on the run with many open 24 hours a day and accepting credit and debit card through drive-through service. And while you may need to eat at fast food restaurants do some homework and look for types that provide healthy food choices such as salads, grilled meats, and special cooking requests. There are also many traditional restaurants that offer curbside service which provide better selections for healthy eating.
These lifestyle tips are important to help your child establish good eating habits and reach a healthy normal weight range for his or her age. These tips are also good references for adults to reach and maintain a healthy body mass index. Rather than trying another weight loss program for children, by using these tips, you will teach your child healthy habits for life.