In a country where the next generation is not expected to outlive its parents the question of whether or not your child is fat is more than pertinent. In fact, it’s down right life changing.
We’re born fat. That’s part of our evolutionary adaptation. However, when your child is turning 4, 5, 6 and so on this fat should start becoming a minimal part of their physique. No, you’re child doesn’t need to have abs and look like a fitness model. However, if you’re saying to yourself, “My child has big bones. They’re just ‘big’ for their age. They’re ‘husky’ or ‘stalky’. It’s just baby fat and will go away on it’s own,” or any version of the previously mentioned statements, then, you might have a fat child.
Oh, you’re going to wait until you go to the doctor and see what they say? Don’t hold your breath. More than half of pediatric doctors do not address the issue of a child’s obesity level with parents because…well…it’s a sensitive topic. In their experience most parents become defensive, aggressive, and ignore any help or advice the doctor makes to improve their child’s health. Think you’ll fair any better? Think again. More than half of parents of obese/overweight children don’t recognize that their offspring has too much body fat. Of that number, only 1/3 said they were worried about their child’s health. Of that number, less than 40% of them were actively taking steps to make changes in their homes to improve their child’s health.
Never fear! There’s a BMI calculator for children created by the CDC to help you determine if you need to make changes in the home for an overweight/obese child:
First things first, do NOT try to put your child on a diet! I know this sounds counterproductive but your child’s still developing mentally and physically. This is an age where any adjustment can have positive or negative lasting impacts on their psyche and body. Most parents are not expert psychologists or dieticians. One small step in the wrong direction and you could set your child up for a lifetime with an unhealthy relationship with food and a healthy lifestyle.
Second, make meal planning a family affair. When you’re at the grocery store help guide them between 2 or 3 healthier options. For example, if they normally eat Fruit Loops® show them several options of healthier cereals. To make it easier on you pick the cerelas with the lowest amount of sugar. This is a good place to start and you can build from there. Also, if you plan on cooking then let them help with the cooking process. Children and teens take pride in what they prepare and are more likely to eat food they help make than if they didn’t (this includes healthy foods!). Have them pick out a favorite protein, a favorite vegetable, and so on. Give them options but guide them with suggestions and options.
Third, kids will see and do what they see you do. If you’re on your laptop, iPhone, tablet, or watching the TV, guess what they’ll do? The same thing! (shocker). When the time and weather permit get outside; even if it’s just to play in the front yard or walk around the neighborhood. Just 15 minutes of movement will 1) burn calories 2) improve mental focus 3) relieve stress 4) improve quality family time (think of all the things you could talk about in 15 min. Problems at school? Grades?).
Set your kid(s) up for success. A healthy lifestyle is a great place to start.
STAY FIT MY FRIENDS!