statues of the children in the United States has generally improved, however
the number of children who are overweight more than doubled over the last
Approximately 11% of US children are overweight and an additional 14%
are at risk of becoming overweight and this number is expected to grow.
If you think your child is overweight it is important to talk to your
child's doctor. The physician will determine if your child truly has
a weight problem and whether this is a medical problem or a lifestyle
Why are we concerned about this at such an early age?
Children who are overweight at an early age have a higher risk of developing
chronic disease as an adult such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease,
high blood pressure and even certain types of cancer. Also, studies
have shown that overweight children are more likely to become overweight
What you can do to help your child?
Be supportive - One of the most important things you can do as
a parent is to let them know they are okay no matter whatever their
weight. Children's feelings about themselves are often based on parent's
feelings about them. It's also important to talk to your child about
weight so they feel comfortable sharing their concerns with you.
Focus on the family - Family involvement helps to teach everyone
healthful habits and does not single out the overweight child. Try to
increase the family's physical activity. For example walk the dog together,
play badminton as a family, take bike rides on the weekend or go hiking
on a beautiful trail.
Teach your family to eat healthy - To encourage good health and
to promote better eating habits the whole family should focus on the
Food Guide Pyramid. The main focus of the
pyramid is to eat a balanced and varied diet. Eating foods from the
each of the major food groups everyday is the best way to assure that
your child will grow well and healthy.
General Guidelines for Children up to Age 8
3 servings of milk- this can be taken in many forms like yogurt,
pudding, and cheese.
2 servings of meat/ fish/beans/eggs- a good serving of protein
should be served at each meal. This group helps to build strong muscles.
3 servings of vegetables - They can be canned, frozen or fresh.
Try to eat different colors to assure the widest intake of vitamins
6 servings of breads/cereals/grains - Pasta, potatoes, rice and
cereal are some of the foods included in this category. This is the
group that provides energy for the body.
2 servings of fruit - eat a variety of fruit throughout the week
and try to eat what is in season to get the best quality and price.
Fruit can be fresh, frozen, canned or fruit juice. A word of caution:
limit the amount of juice served in a given day to children.
A meal should consist of one source of protein, one or two sources of
grain, one source of fruit or vegetable (or both), and milk.
Don't place your child on a restrictive diet.
Unless medically necessary and under a doctor's supervision a child
should never be on a restricted diet. Limiting certain foods may be
harmful to their health and interfere with growth and development.