It’s no secret that our nation is in the midst of a dire obesity epidemic. Dieting seem to be the norm among plenty of adults, but we might want to rethink our approach when it comes to kids. In our obesity-centric world it’s easy to think that anybody who’s overweight should be on a diet, but kids are a different story. Kids that are classified as “moderately overweight” (about 10-15 pounds above the average) shouldn’t be put on a diet.
Kids aren’t mini-adults: They’re children that are growing into adults. That necessary growth process is what makes them different from overweight adults. Whether they are overweight or not, kids are in their formative years, both physically and mentally. Telling a kid he or she needs to go on a diet has lasting effects,not only on their perception of food and weight, but on their self-esteem and self-image.
If you can’t put a child on a diet, what in the world are you supposed to do?
Instead of limiting a child’s calorie intake, it’s recommended to have them make small changes in lifestyle.
Changes that make an impact include:
- Better food choices
- More physical activity
- Less screen time. Screen time includes watching television, spending time on the computer, and playing video games.
Help kids improve the quality of their diet by adding fruits, vegetables, and whole grains to their diet, while cutting back on junk food.
When it comes to overweight children, the idea is not to make them lose weight, but to slow the rate of weight gain. By decreasing the speed of weight gain, the child’s weight will gradually become more appropriate for his height as he or she continues to grow.
A low calorie diet can inhibit height growth and deprive kids of the vital nutrients that are necessary for healthy physical and cognitive development. Plus, lifestyle changes like swapping junk food for fruit and cutting back on TV will benefit the whole family.