Helping Your Child Lose Weight

kid on scale, overweight child, heavy kidOur parenting instinct is to feed our children. Trying to help your child lose weight is really, really hard. There is no easy answer, but there are some helpful suggestions. Some of them are obvious, but I think they are worth listing. Weight issues are about so much more than food and exercise.

1. Always keep your eye on the prize. Obesity is unhealthy. Forget about outward appearance and focus on what is truly important — raising a healthy child. By constantly reminding yourself of why you need to help your child lose weight, it will be easier to stay on track. Depriving your kid of something as basic as food is hard, but parenting is often hard.

2. Everyone in the family needs to be on board. No fast food, no junk in the cupboards, no snacking between meals.

3. Encourage your children, even those without a weight concern, to drink water when they think they are hungry. Confusing hunger and thirst is very common and will lead to the consumption of unnecessary calories. Get rid of any caloric drink in your home.

kid on scale, young girl on scale, overweight, obesity4. Involve your child in the plan. Set real goals. Educate your child on the health risks of obesity. Do not be so afraid to make them feel badly, you don’t acknowledge the problem.

5. Moderation is key. You are in this for the long haul. Don’t pester them publicly about their choices at a party. A splurge once in a while is o.k. and even helpful for long-term results. Saying “No” to everything, can easily lead to binge eating behaviors.

active family, family running, walking, happy family

6. Increasing activity is a family effort. Play, dance, walk, hike, skip. Believe me, I know how busy you are. I know it is easier to plop them in front of the TV or a video game. When you are feeling unmotivated, go back to #1. Eye on the prize.

7. Teach by example. Your children will mimic you, for better or for worse. Talk about eating healthy to feel better, not to look better. Walk when you can. Don’t look for the closest parking spot. Try not to talk about hunger or cravings, and follow a set eating schedule.

The above suggestions are useful even if you aren’t worried about your child’s weight. Most obese adults were not overweight as children. Healthy habits start young.

First published 2013

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Author: Karen Latimer

Dr. Latimer is a Family Physician and Wellness & Parenting Coach. She works with parents who want to feel more confident when helping their children and coaches young adults to help them better navigate college life and transitions. Contact her at to learn more. She is the author of two Audible Originals, Take Back the House -- Raising Happy Parents and Worry Less, Parent Better. She is also the co-founder of the app that makes your life easier and puts social in a healthier place -- List'm.