How To Cope If Your Child Is Fat

Dr Vernon Coleman

A lifetime of obesity and dieting often begins in childhood.

Children who are fat often stay fat - and find it extremely difficult to lose excess weight later in life.

At least one in four children is overweight, and obesity is now one of the biggest health problems facing children.

Children who are overweight are likely to:

* grow up to be fat adults
* develop heart disease
* develop high blood pressure
* develop chest problems
* develop bone and joint problems
* develop diabetes
* find exercise difficult
* suffer from more colds and coughs
* suffer from anxiety and depression
* be victims of bullying at school
* suffer from loneliness
The vast majority of overweight children get fat because they eat too much - or eat the wrong foods. It is rare for a child to be fat because he or she suffers from a hormone or glandular problem.

You can help your child get slim and stay slim.

But you must take care.

If you push too hard you could make your child anorexic. Remember that pound for pound growing children need twice as many calories as adults. A child who weighs just five stones will probably need as many calories as an adult who weighs ten stones. Many of those extra calories are needed to help the child grow.

Twelve Ways to Help Children Lose Excess Weight - And Stay Slim

1. Never push them into eating up all the food on their plate if they say they are full. If you are worried that they aren't eating enough talk to your doctor. If you push children into eating more than they want you could make them fat for life - by teaching them bad eating habits.

2. Try to teach them the facts about foods. You will be surprised at how interested most children are in what they eat. Explain why fresh vegetables and fruit are good (they're full of vitamins and fibre and low in fats) and why chocolate and cake are bad (they are low in fibre and vitamins and full of sugar and fat).

3.Remember that many children overeat because they are looking for love. Give children plenty of love and they won't need to suck on bars of chocolate to cure their unhappiness.

4. Be consistent. And be fair. Don't advise your children to cut down on the chocolates and then let them see you pigging out on a whole bar of chocolate. If you are overweight then you too should try to control your weight. Your children will find weight control difficult to understand if they see their parents eating anything and everything - and ignoring their own weight problem.

5. Encourage children to eat slowly. Fat children often eat far too quickly. Teach children to chew properly. And remember that good table manners will help keep weight down.

6. Remember that breast fed babies are probably less likely to become fat than bottle fed babies.

7. Don't use food as a punishment or a reward. If you do then your children will associate food with emotional as well as physical needs.

8. Make sure that children have a good breakfast but eat as little as possible in the evening when calorie requirements are at their lowest.

9. Encourage children to eat when they are hungry as far as possible. Do not allow children to read or watch television when they are eating. Children who eat while doing something else will not be aware of their appetite control centre. They will just keep cramming food into their mouths automatically, regardless of whether or not they are still hungry.

10. Try to keep children out of the habit of eating lots of sweets. Sweets ruin the teeth and are usually rich in calories. Teach children to understand which foods are fattening.

11. Encourage children to take regular exercise. Too many parents insist on carrying their children everywhere by car.

12. Weigh children regularly. If they seem to be gaining weight too quickly then try to correct this. It will be easier to make a modest correction now than to try to deal with a massive weight problem in a year or two's time.

Copyright Vernon Coleman 2007 There is more advice on healthy eating in `Food for Thought' by Vernon Coleman. Available from the webshop on this site, and from all good bookshops.