It may feel like a difficult subject to broach however, if you feel, or have been advised, that your child’ weight levels are over the average and starting to cause some concern, you need to act on it in order to reduce the likelihood of them becoming an overweight or even obese adult. Rather than children losing their ‘puppy fat’ as they get older, if they are already overweight it is far likelier that they will remain overweight as adults and possibly become bigger.
You need to treat the subject sensitively however as a fixation on their weight can potentially lead to eating disorders such as over-eating or anorexia. You need to ensure that your child feels loved whatever their size but that you are merely introducing measures to increase their overall health levels. There is no need even to directly discuss their weight and instead, putting the emphasis on health rather than weight makes the reaction and outcome far likelier to be positive.
The best way to tackle it is through healthy eating and regular exercise that they can maintain. It’s possible to create an exercise regime without it looking as if you are attempting to put your child or children through a ‘bootcamp’ situation, with the express desire of them losing weight. Often, it simply needs changes to how active they are, and will be most successful if taken up by the whole family. It’s also likelier to last longer if they can enjoy it and easily fit it in to their schedule.
Walk or cycle to school
If you drive your children to school then switching to foot or bike is the first and easiest way to incorporate exercise in to their routine, and it will also benefit you. Children are more than capable of walking up to around a mile in both directions and more if cycling. Walk or cycle briskly to increase their heart rate and maximise the health benefits. Try to get in the habit of using your car only when it’s really needed, for example longer journeys or shopping trips where the storage space is required.
Join a class that includes physical activity
Offer your child the option of taking up an extra-curricular activity but make sure you offer them only physical ones. There are so many and so they are bound to find something to suit their preferences. Choose from regular football, ballet or gymnastic classes or offer a less common activity such as judo or rock climbing. Get them excited about their choice and put the emphasis on the fun factor and on making new friends.
Make swimming a family activity at least once a week
Instead of a Saturday trip to the cinema as a family, why not go swimming instead? Or alternatively, if you are available, make it a regular activity after school one day during the week. It will be a nice way to spend time together as a family whilst enforcing the importance of physical activity. Make sure the time is spent swimming rather than simply splashing around.
During moments when they are not busy with scheduled activity then encourage them to spend time playing outdoors and set a limit on the amount of time they are allowed to watch television or play on their computer.
Bear in mind that these are only suggestions, and that there are many other options to help prevent your child being overweight. Try to find an activity that they really enjoy, as this will mean they will actually want to do it and are much more likely to keep on doing it. Finally, don’t forget the importance of diet. Cutting out junk food and sweets is another great way to kick start your child’s weight loss.
Written by Kat Kraetzer, an experienced blogger working in the health-care industry for many years