What Parents with Overweight Children Need to Know

diet-398613_1280

It’s no secret that America has a childhood obesity epidemic.

The health risks that can accompany childhood obesity are so regularly featured on news reports that it’s amazing the problem is still so prevalent. And although many parents can identify a weight problem in their child, they might not know what to do about it, especially when it comes to handling the situation without damaging her self-esteem.


Here is some food for thought, reprinted with permission, for parents of overweight children, along with some practical, real-life advice for handling the situation.

Your Doctor Might Not Tell You

Your doctor might not let you know that your child is overweight or obese. This may be because he assumes you do not want to know. As a parent, it is easy to turn a blind eye to things like your kids being overweight or even when your kids develop a bad habit. If you have a suspicion that your child is overweight, you should approach your doctor about it. This will show him that you are interested in learning more about the issue and are willing to work with his suggestions on what to change or tweak in your child’s life.

You Are Not Alone

Sometimes it’s difficult to realize that you are not the only one with overweight kids. There are others out there who are just as concerned as you are and who are willing to share their wisdom. Search out those other parents and work together to achieve a common goal. That extra support is just the thing you need to keep on track, and having another overweight child working toward becoming a healthier size will help put your child at ease and encourage her to work hard at losing that extra weight.

Exercise Is Always a Good Thing

Not everyone enjoys exercise, but it’s essential for kids’ health and physical development. Come up with an exercise schedule that everyone in the household sticks to. There’s no reason to send your kid off to the gym for an aerobics class while you sit at home. Make it a family event that everyone looks forward to. If everyone likes to do something different, then create a schedule that includes all of the activities throughout the week. Working together as a family not only creates a built-in support system, it can also boost the health of everyone in the family and gives you an opportunity to model the habits you want your child to adopt.

She Shouldn’t Have to Make Changes Alone

Along the same lines as exercising with your child, don’t make them go through any aspect of this experience alone. Singling him out will just create tension and remorse that doesn’t need to be there at all. If the doctor says he needs to change his diet, change the diet of your entire family. Clean out that pantry of the junk food and fill it with healthier alternatives, encouraging everyone to eat better. Even members of your family at an average weight can benefit from cutting out the empty calories.

Some Foods Should Be Avoided

Going out for fast food three times a week is a bad habit to get into, regardless of how convenient it might be for time-strapped parents. All of the grease that is typical of fast food has no place in a child’s diet. And, keep in mind the word “diet” does not mean counting calories and starving your child. She still needs a decent amount of food. After all, she is growing and changing. With how much energy children burn throughout each day, chances are they need to eat more food than you would expect. They just need healthier fare than deep-fried potatoes and genetically modified meat.

Counting Calories Isn’t Always Right for Kids

The strict course of counting calories is a lot of pressure to put on a child and will single them out more than their weight already does. Stress can even be a trigger for kids and adults who are prone to emotional eating. So skip the added stress of counting calories and think about ways to instill healthier habits as a whole.

Your Child May Have Low Self-Esteem

It is possible that your child is being picked on at school or being made fun of by his peers because he is overweight, and he may very well be too embarrassed about the bullying to tell you about it. Sometimes kids don’t even necessarily mean to be cruel, but it can still feel that way to your child when his differences are being highlighted at every turn. If you think your child may be being picked on at school, speak with the guidance counselor to see what she has noticed and what she suggests that you do, but make sure that you’re making efforts to boost his self-esteem at home as well.

It’s Okay to Embrace Your Child’s Weight

Most importantly, embrace the way your child is no matter what. She should feel comfortable with who she is no matter what her weight is and understand that your focus on her weight is out of concern for her health rather than an emphasis on her looks. Just because she is overweight doesn’t mean she’s not a good child, and she needs to know that.

5 preschool fitness ideas to combat childhood obesity

Childhood obesity in America has become an epidemic problem. We live in a digital era where many kids prefer to stay home glued to the TV or on video consoles or mobile games. The obsession with indoor play contributes to the obesity problem.
The answer to tackling it head on includes parents taking an active stance into monitoring their children’s eating and activity level. The easiest and best way to impart the importance of remaining active and physical at all times is to get your children moving from as early as possible, even preschool age.
“Young children are naturally inquisitive, intrinsically interested and inherently active,” says Educator and Health Expert Susan Mandell, founder of Room 101, a Florida fitness facility created to combat childhood obesity. “Getting preschool-age kids up and moving usually doesn’t require bribery or much pushing.”
Despite the fact that pre-schoolers already have an innate interest to move, there are still things that parents can to to make sure their youngest ones are getting motor-development fitness as well.
Mandell offers these five tips for combating childhood obesity by starting with your preschooler: 
1. KISS Method – Keep it Safe and Simple
2. Be the best role model and get down and exercise with them.
3. Stay focused and observe their physical interaction at play, with other children and in groups.
4. Music is a must for little ones. Incorporate music and songs into play, especially if it is raining outdoors. Turn up the stereo and put on some music and dance.
5. Stick to larger gross motor activities.There is no need to focus on activities that require more precision considering they are still getting used to toddling about. 
Determining whether a child is pre-disposed to being obese is hard. One sure sign is family history. If you, your spouse or partner or members of the family are overweight or obese could be a clue but not necessarily a sole determining factor. Parents that are fit, eat healthy and regularly exercise are likely going to pass on the importance of that lifestyle on to their children. So the first step to counterbalancing the onset of childhood obesity is to change your own life first and make fitness and better eating priority.
Notwithstanding that, parents should never send a bad message to their children about his or her weight, Mandell warns. It would only create more problems than solutions and potentially create insecurities and contribute to self-esteem issues later. Instead, use positive words about how moving and exercise are good for increasing energy, and getting fresh air. Be the best role model, she adds.  Give them TLC and expose them to sports and other play options available. In due time, hopefully, they will recognize and learn to love going out and moving often and regularly, even without being told.
  

post signature

5 things parents of an overweight child need to know

The issue of childhood obesity is of concern for many parents. I myself, am dealing with trying to help one of my children manage his weight better. That is why I found these 5 things to keep in mind if your child is overweight that Aupair.org shared with us quite timely and helpful.
  1. She Shouldn’t Have to Make Changes Alone Along the same lines as exercising with your child, don’t make them go through any aspect of this experience alone. Singling him out will just create tension and remorse that doesn’t need to be there at all. If the doctor says he needs to change his diet, change the diet of your entire family. Clean out that pantry of the junk food and fill it with healthier alternatives, encouraging everyone to eat better. Even members of your family at an average weight can benefit from cutting out the empty calories.
  2. Some Foods Should Be Avoided Going out for fast food three times a week is a bad habit to get into, regardless of how convenient it might be for time-strapped parents. All of the grease that is typical of fast food has no place in a child’s diet. And, keep in mind the word “diet” does not mean counting calories and starving your child. She still needs a decent amount of food. After all, she is growing and changing. With how much energy children burn throughout each day, chances are they need to eat more food than you would expect. They just need healthier fare than deep-fried potatoes and genetically modified meat.
  3. Counting Calories Isn’t Always Right for Kids The strict course of counting calories is a lot of pressure to put on a child and will single them out more than their weight already does. Stress can even be a trigger for kids and adults who are prone to emotional eating. So skip the added stress of counting calories and think about ways to instill healthier habits as a whole.
  4. Your Child May Have Low Self-Esteem It is possible that your child is being picked on at school or being made fun of by his peers because he is overweight, and he may very well be too embarrassed about the bullying to tell you about it. Sometimes kids don’t even necessarily mean to be cruel, but it can still feel that way to your child when his differences are being highlighted at every turn. If you think your child may be being picked on at school, speak with the guidance counselor to see what she has noticed and what she suggests that you do, but make sure that you’re making efforts to boost his self-esteem at home as well.
  5. It’s Okay to Embrace Your Child’s Weight Most importantly, embrace the way your child is no matter what. She should feel comfortable with who she is no matter what her weight is and understand that your focus on her weight is out of concern for her health rather than an emphasis on her looks. Just because she is overweight doesn’t mean she’s not a good child, and she needs to know that.

Continue reading

post signature

Study: Obesity in pregnancy can set baby on path to obesity too

Excessive weight gain during pregnancy can lead to above-average birth weight and obesity, a new Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario report concludes.
“Obesity can become part of an intergenerational cycle,” said Dr. Kristi Adamo, co-author of the report and co-founder of the Healthy Active Living and Obesity Research Group at the CHEO Research Institute.
“Birth weight averages can be an indicator of the weight a child will carry through preschool and even into adulthood. It’s critical for a mother to understand that her healthy eating and lifestyle decisions during pregnancy will impact much more than a nine-month gestation period.”
It was already known that women who are overweight or obese pre-pregnancy are more likely to have overweight babies. But the study, released this week, found that babies born to women who experience excessive weight gain during pregnancy are just as likely to be of above-average birth weight. Results indicated that independent of pre-pregnancy body mass index (BMI), women who gained more weight than recommended based on their pre-pregnancy BMI significantly increased their baby’s chance of being born above the 90th percentile of infant weight for gestational age.

continue reading

post signature

Study: Obesity during pregnancy depletes baby’s oxygen

A new Canadian study has shed fresh light on a growing problem in the nation’s maternity wards: pregnant women whose obesity poses health risks for the fetus that may be as dire as the effects of smoking or drinking.
The swelling ranks of obese, expectant mothers face a heightened danger of miscarriages, stillbirths and premature babies, and more likely to deliver children who develop diabetes, cardiovascular disease and even spina bifida. A study released just this week found obese women were almost 70 per cent more likely than others to have an autistic child.
The reasons for such complications have not been clear, but just-published Canadian research on rats fed a special high-fat diet concludes that obesity undermines development of blood vessels in the placenta, which in turn deprives the fetus of sufficient oxygen. The findings point to the fundamental impact that being overweight has on giving birth, but could also help develop drugs to improve results for obese mothers, the authors say.
“These babies, they now have been programmed in utero,” said Dr. Andree Gruslin, a maternal-fetal medicine specialist at the University of Ottawa. “Unless something drastic changes, these babies are going to grow to be obese individuals, and they’re going to have hypertension, diabetes, cardiac problems . . . And then it’s a vicious circle, because then they’re going to get pregnant and so on and so forth. It’s a real disaster.”
continue reading

post signature

The 2 things I did to stop my kid from getting too fat

My 6-yr old son, in the red, runs a mile in the regional cross-country championship
This week’s story on the government removing an 800lb 8 year old third grader from the custody of his family’s home in Cleveland, Ohio has got a lot of folks tongue wagging and pointing blame. Is it the family’s fault for feeding the kid too much? Was it the food industry’s fault for marketing junk food to children and schools? Was is it regulations or farm growers’ fault for making healthy food more expensive than conventional foods? Is the government overstepping its boundaries removing children from homes because they are too fat?
Roughly 2 million U.S. children are extremely obese and weigh more than what is considered healthy. You can only say a kid is “big boned” or just a “big kid” for so long.
I have a 6-year-old who was on the verge of getting too fat for his age and size, and frankly, was quite plump. When his pants stopped fitting, buttons started popping off and he started fitting into his 9-year old big brother’s clothes and weighed more than him, we as the parents realized we needed to step in and do something.
Some of our friends told us not to worry. They tried to convince us that he just had baby fat and that he would grow out of it. They said we were being neurotic and overreacting when we told them we were thinking of taking steps to reign in his excessive weight gain. It took our son about a half a year to balloon to his chunky size.
Not swayed by our friends, my husband and I decided we would take charge. We did two simple things and got him back to an average child size within 6 months:
1. We emptied the house of junk: all cookies, chips, cakes, candy, and unhealthy high sugar cereals and snacks. We just stopped buying them altogether. In their place, we filled the fridge with apples, oranges, carrot sticks, applesauce, graham crackers, animal crackers, melba toast, low fat string cheese, low fat pudding snacks, and whole grain cereals. We fed the kids whole meals made from scratch and limited processed mac and cheese, pizza, and frozen reheated chicken nuggets.  We cut down on the trips to McDs and when we did go, opted for milk and apple dippers instead of fries and a soft drink. We’d peel the fried crust off the nuggets. We also discouraged our boy from excess snacking and eating too much after 8pm, or sneaking food as he used to do.
2. We enrolled our growing boy into his school’s cross country (long distance) running club. To prepare for meets held on Sundays, he had to run 2 miles a week twice a week during practice and he’d do stretches and other sprinting training runs. He also practiced once a week for his Saturday soccer club. He played for 30 minutes each Saturday during league games and then had Sunday race meets. Combined with his weekly gym class at school, we made sure he got enough physical exercise to work down some of those excess pounds.
Many communities have low cost or free recreational leagues at local boys and girls club, the YMCA or other community athletic programs. The benefit of recreational leagues is that there is no pressure for the kids who play in them to be stellar  athletes. They usually take all kids of all skill levels and are there for parents who want their children who prefer to be stuck behind a video game console to get up and get moving.  For parents who live in rural areas, they could investigate to see if there are regional athletic programs available where kids from different schools are pooled together to form a team. Do some homework.
Simple. Not rocket science.  We didn’t put him on a diet. Pediatricians and nutritionists worry about depriving kids of much needed nutrients and discourage parents from putting their kids on diets.  All we did was take away the junk food and fed him wholesome food and he slimmed down. Bad eating habits got him that big and we just had to replace them with healthy habits to have him slim down.  At a post-Thanksgiving event this year, several of our friends commented to us that they noticed he has trimmed down tremendously.
It helps that my husband and I love to exercise and constantly watch what we eat so we already have a healthier mindset than most, but it wouldn’t take much for even a moderately healthy parent to do the same and step in and take simple affirmative steps to get their kids moving and eating better.
Parents don’t want to disappoint their kids but depriving a child of junk food does not make them a bad parent.  Letting them grow too large and be subject to a host of obesity-related illnesses and teasing in school and on the playgrounds, however, may be their fault. 
The solution is a Kiss (Keep it simple silly). Besides, emptying the house of junk helped everyone in the family trim down too. There’s a bonus for doing the right thing! 

post signature

Study suggests government taking custody of obese children


14-year-old Alexander Drape was 555 lbs when he was taken away from his mom Jerri Gray in 2009
Controversy erupted this week over the article State Intervention in Life-Threatening Childhood Obesity published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. The article, written by Harvard childhood obesity expert David Ludwig, MD, PhD and Lindsey Murtagh, JD, MPH, a lawyer and researcher at Harvard’s School of Public Health, suggests that the government intervene and take over custody of obese children.  
We are not talking children who are a bit chubby, but those that register as extremely obese, such as 14 year old, 555 lb. Alexander Drape.
In a recent ABC News, childhood obesity expert Dr. David Ludwig said childhood obesity is abuse and requires government intervention.
“State intervention may serve the best interests of many children with life-threatening obesity, comprising the only realistic way to control harmful behavior,” Dr. Ludwig wrote. “In severe instances of childhood obesity, removal from the home may be justifiable, from a legal standpoint because of imminent health risks and the parents’ chronic failure to address medical problems.”
Ludwig has a right to be concerned.  Close to 2 million American children are obese.  Obesity in children can lead to Type 2 diabetes, breathing difficulties and liver problems.  A child that suffers with obesity can have a shorter life than children of average weight.
Ludwig said the government should provide parent training and take the children out of the parents’ homes only in extreme cases. 
That is what happened two-years ago when a single South Carolina mother, Jerri Gray, a Greenville, S.C., lost custody of her 555-pound 14-year-old son.  Alexander Draper, 14, was placed into foster care after his mother, Jerri Gray, was arrested and charged with criminal neglect in June 2009.
Around that time, a pediatric journal published a similar story that discussed a 440-pound 16-year old girl who was hospitalized because of her excessive weight.
Regulations require health practictioners to alert authorities if a child arrives at the hospital with high-risk factors due to weight issues.  Severe obesity caused by parents who will not intervene to curb their children’s eating, provide them healthier options or force them to exercise is included in the high risk category.
University of Pennsylvania bioethicist Art Caplan told Yahoo news that that parents should not bear the brunt of all the blame, but instead more criticism should be placed on advertising, marketing, peer pressure and bullying which are all out of a parent’s control.
“If you’re going to change a child’s weight, you’re going to have to change all of them,” Caplan said. 
Caplan is on to something because irrespective of how much parental training or government intervention goes into saving children from obesity, there are other factors beyond government control.
Our national diet is one place to look. The foods most affordable and the easiest to serve are also the most fattening and harmful foods. Individuals living at lower income levels may opt for inexpensive bag of chips over spending $3.00 for a bag of apples.
“Its easy to put all the blame on parents for the obesity epidemic, but we have to realize that in some low in come neighborhoods, access to affordable healthy foods and safe outdoor activities are non existent”, said Dr. Rhonique Harris, a community pediatrician at Children’s National Medical Center in Washington DC. “We have to look at interagency approach at addressing the problem from all angles; home, school, place of worship, doctors office, daycare, WIC, TANF, public housing, neighborhood supermarkets and media, to name a few.”
Also, there are other factors in play that have to be considered. Parents who are also obese due to poor eating choices, genetics and unsafe neighborhoods where children can no longer be told to “go outside and play.”

Continue Reading

post signature