Affinity Health Plan

  • Health Awareness Series: September 2016 - Helping Your Overweight Child

    September 16, 2016

    Helping Your Overweight Child

    Children are heavier today than ever before.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) say that more than 1 in 6 children and teens are overweight or obese, weighing well above the normal weight for their age and height.  Weighing too much can affect the health and well-being of your child. 

    How do I know if my child is too heavy?
    The best person to answer this question is your child’s doctor. The doctor will measure your child’s height and weight. He will then figure out your child’s “BMI” (body mass index) and compare it to the ideal BMI. Keep in mind that children grow at unique rates, and body weight changes with age.

    How do children become too heavy?
    There are a number of things that can change your child’s weight:

    • Poor diet choices - Fast food, packaged snacks, soft drinks, juice and candy are only some of the high fat and sugary foods that will cause weight gain.
    • Lack of exercise - Children who don’t move a lot don’t burn enough calories. Sometimes it’s hard to find safe play areas to run, walk or ride a bike.
      Family history - If others in the family are heavy, eat poorly or don’t move enough, there is a greater chance children will also be overweight.
    • Neighborhood - Sometimes, it’s hard to find fresh or even canned fruits and vegetables. Or they cost too much.

    Why is it bad for my child to be too heavy?
    Children who are overweight have a higher risk for:

    • Bones and joint problems
    • Diabetes
    • High cholesterol and high blood pressure
    • Asthma
    • Trouble sleeping
    • Certain types of cancer as adults
    • Feeling bad about themselves. They may be sad or be bullied.

    How can parents help?
    Watch how the family eats.

    • Start the day right. Eat a healthful breakfast.
    • Eat more fruits and vegetables during the whole day.
    • Use lean meat (low in fat, like chicken) and fish.   
    • Cut back on food high in calories and saturated (bad) fats.
    • Cut out drinks that have a lot of sugar, especially juice, soda, sports drinks and other sweetened drinks. Drink water and low fat or skim milk for children older than 2 years.
    • Be more active.
      • Limit TV and computer time to no more than 2 hours a day.
      • Walk with your kids to school. Park far away from the grocery store. Encourage them to play sports.
    • Eat with your children. People who eat alone or in front of the TV may eat more! If you eat healthful food and drinks, your kids will, too.

    Your child must have a checkup every year with his or her doctor, especially if they are too heavy.

    Even a LITTLE weight loss can have BIG health benefits.

    To learn more, visit:
    KidsHealth. This information is in English and Spanish.

    Mayo Clinic – “Childhood Obesity”
    National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases – “Helping Your Overweight Child”
    Obesity Action Coalition – “What is Childhood Obesity”
    Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – “Childhood Obesity Facts”
    Healthy – “What about fat and cholesterol?”

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