Most parents today know very well that more children than ever are overweight or at risk of becoming overweight. Parents have gotten better at recognizing that their own children are overweight, moving away from the denial that a child is just “big boned” or “a little chubby.” They may hear about the problem from a pediatrician or a nurse at school. Many parents avoid talking about it in front of their children in order to keep from hurting the children's feelings.
Increasingly, parents are beginning to understand the risks that being overweight poses to their child's health. Not only are these children likely to stay overweight into adulthood and to develop “adult” type illnesses, like high blood pressure and heart disease, they are also developing diabetes during their teen years at an increasing rate and are at risk of having low self-esteem.
Unfortunately, there are no easy answers to the current obesity epidemic. There is no miracle pill or diet on the horizon that will help kids lose weight. In fact, it seems like today's kids are bombarded with things that actually discourage them from maintaining a healthy weight. This includes poor food choices at school, a lack of opportunities to be physically active at school and after school, oversized portions, drinking too much soda, and so on.
No matter who or what you want to blame for the obesity epidemic, whether it is the fast-food industry, the increased amount of time children spend watching television and playing video games, or parents who make unhealthy choices for their children, one fact remains: It is time to get back to basics and help our children be healthier. Parents probably already know what basic steps have to be taken, including encouraging a child to eat healthy and be physically active every day.
Of course, when it comes to weight loss, things are never simple. Children struggle just as much, if not more, than adults who are trying to lose weight. Why? Part of the reason is a lack of motivation. It can be hard to go from eating whatever you want and spending all day in front of the television to developing healthier habits.
The other big reason is that not all parents really understand how to make healthy food choices or how to provide their children with a nutritious and healthy diet. It is not as easy as counting calories, banning junk food, and getting kids to eat more vegetables. Since they are still growing, children have special nutritional needs. These may not be met if the child is put on a diet that puts too-strict limits on what he eats.
Especially if they are also overweight, parents may have a hard time helping an overweight child. They may not know where to go for help. Although a trip to the pediatrician can be a good idea, parents are unlikely to get all of the help and advice they need in a quick visit. Unfortunately, few parents live near any kind of specialty center dealing with childhood obesity.
Fortunately, that doesn't mean parents are on their own as they work to help an overweight child. The Everything