Childhood obesity is a serious problem – one that is rapidly growing in the United States and the United Kingdom. Through physical activities and balancing calories, overweight and obese children should be able to reduce weight, and maintain it while still developing and growing. If any parent or guardian is worried about their child’s diet, they should discuss those concerns with their GP or dietitian. 

What can happen?

Overweight and obese children will develop many health problems that will affect their emotional, mental and physical health, as well as social development. They also have higher risks of chronic medical conditions such as:

  • Asthma
  • Bone/joint problems
  • Heart disease
  • High blood pressure
  • Sleep apnea
  • Type 2 diabetes

Often these children are discriminated because of their weight. They may experience teasing and bullying from their peers on the playground, which can lead the development of depression, isolation and anxiety, along with a lack of self-confidence. This may cause them to stop socializing or being active, and to eat more, thus resulting in a vicious cycle.

What can I do to help?

If you are worried about your child’s health and you want to encourage them to be healthier, then there are plenty of tips to follow.

Exercise – Keeping your child active will burn calories and decrease the body fat. Aerobics, cardio and strength exercises is not only good for the body, but for the mind as well. Joining groups such as gymnastics, swimming or self- defense can help improve the child’s health under the watchful eye of a qualified instructor.

Nutrition – Involve the child in the weekly food shopping when possible. Teaching them about the different nutritional values of foods should encourage them to make healthy choices in the future. At home, children should help the adult in the kitchen prepare meals so that they can become accustomed to trying new foods.

Play– Going outside with the child and participating in family activities will definitely burn calories, as well as encourage the family to bond together. Bike riding, hiking, or walking around the park is a fun activity and a great way to keep them active. Even simple games such as chase, tag and jumping rope can be fun and effective in burning calories. Try to aim for 30-60 minutes of physical activity per day, if possible.

Use yourself as an example– If children see us eating healthy and participating in physical activities then it may encourage them to do the same. Educating children about activities, exercise and nutrition from an early age is a great way to put them on the right track towards healthier habits later in life. 

What should my child eat?

Offer the child foods packed with vitamins – as well as those being low in fat and unhealthy calories. Clean eating from a young age will help the child develop eating habits that are healthy and can reduce the need for sugary snacks. 

Fruits and vegetables are a great start. Pureeing fruit and vegetables for babies can be beneficial, and mixing them with other fruits and vegetables will more than provide the minimum amount of vitamins and minerals. Combining vegetables with many other healthy options such as whole-wheat pasta or brown rice is another healthy option.

Limiting or cutting out sugary beverages that are high in fat and calories will also benefit the child. Encouraging more water in the diet will not only keep them hydrated but can also cause the child to feel a little fuller and less inclined to eat large portions at meal times. Adding slices of natural fruit or vegetables like cucumber, lemon or lime can be refreshing way to change the ordinary taste of plain water. 

Low-fat milk or dairy products contain less sugar, and offer a wide variety.  There are various types of milks to choose from such as almond, coconut or oat milk. Fruit can be blended in with milk for smoothies, as well or eaten with low or fat free yogurts. Healthy dips can also be made with non-fat Greek yogurt and mixing in chives, chilli, black pepper and garlic powder. Try it for yourself!

Protein should come in the forms of beans, fish, lean meats, lentils and poultry. Homemade soups are a good source of protein, especially when adding beans, chicken or lentils. Involving the child in preparation will teach them, not only a life skill, but also how different types of healthy foods combine to provide a nutritional value.

What else should my child learn?

Teach and show your child that physical activity can give them great benefits that include:

  • Anxiety and stress reduce
  • Blood pressure decrease
  • Strong bones
  • Increase in Self-esteem
  • Weight management

Overweight and obese children should attempt 30-60 minutes of activities per day, whenever possible. Encourage them to join you, and reduce time that they spend on games consoles, internet and TV. Participating in fun group activities like a dance class would encourage the child to move around more and increase effectiveness in burning fat.

What should I remember?

The most important point to remember is to have fun about teaching the child how to eat healthier.  This is a learning experience not only for you but also your child.  Don’t miss the opportunity to turn these learning moments into bonding ones as well. 

By making, even the smallest change to a child’s dietary habit can benefit and show them that carrying out one or more of these tips could definitely benefit their health and development in the future.

About Author:

Gracy; a dedicated and qualified nutritionist with over six years of experience in the Indian food industry, currently blogging at by giving honest reviews on world’s best HCG drops based on Google trends and Amazon, Ebay ratings. She has a MSc Degree in Human Nutrition at Chinmaya degree College(BHEL) in Haridwar, Uttarakhand. You can reach her anytime regarding this guest post or nutrition questions.