Overweight issues in children



Because being overweight can often be a lifelong condition that may affect the entire family, it is critical that families consider taking action towards becoming a healthier family with the child. When assessing your family; consider the following:


  •          How often your family has physical activity time (min/day)
  •          Does your family place a high value on video game use (hr/day)
  •          Does your family limit television viewing (hr/day)
  •          Does your family enjoy a variety of fruit and vegetables daily (servings/day)
  •          Does every family member consume calorically sweetened beverages (ounces/day)
  •          Are there parental restriction of highly palatable foods (for example cake, donuts, candy)
  •          How many meals are eaten outside of the home (meals/week)
  •          Are there large portion sizes
  •          Does the family often skip breakfast (meals/week)

After assessing your family, try
small achievable steps toward reaching goals that work with your family’s
schedule. Focus on healthful eating and behaviors aimed at improving Body Mass
Index.  Body Mass Index is a measurement
of weight relative to height.  The
targeted behaviors may include decreased television viewing, decreased
sweetened beverage and juice consumption, increased fruit and vegetable
consumption (focusing on 5 different colors of fruits and vegetables daily),
increased daily activity, more home-prepared meals and family meals, and daily
breakfast consumption. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics’ Evidence
Analysis Library for  Evidence-Based
Pediatric in Weight Management Nutrition Practice Guidelines strongly
recommends that a parent/caregiver should be included in the medical management
team for pediatric weight management programs as an agent of change when
treating children aged 6 to 12 years. 
You, as their family, can provide them their motivation and strength to
reach a healthy weight goal.

For additional structured weight
management approaches, a Registered Dietitian’s role in the Medical Team
increases.  A dietary prescription,
including a mild calorie restriction, a meal and snack schedule, 1 hour of
daily supervised and planned daily physical activity, and self-monitoring are
implemented by the family with staff support using motivational interviewing
techniques to help set goals and identify barriers. Research shows that when
individualized nutrition prescription is included, improvements in weight
status in children and adolescents are consistent. When an individualized
nutrition prescription is not included, results are less consistent.  From all of the medical concerns that arise
with being overweight as a child, consider focusing on a healthy family
lifestyle prescription rather than a child weight loss          program.


Andrea Shotton, MS, RD, LD
Registered Dietitian at TherapyWorks