When it comes to weight loss, a much more cautious approach should be taken with children than with adults. The reason is because children are still growing, so they need proper nutrition in order to develop properly. Teaching children about living healthy can provide lifelong habits, so it’s never too early to start feeding your kids healthier foods and encouraging them to exercise daily.
Long Term Weight Loss Program
The health experts at KidsHealth.org recommend a long-term approach to weight loss for children and teens 1. They offer free tips for overweight children to help them get down to a healthy weight. The first step should be to consult your pediatrician to assess the child’s weight. The tips provided by KidsHealth.org focus on healthy eating and exercise. For instance, they recommend cutting back on soda and sugary juices and replacing them with water and low-fat milk. They also suggest eating smaller portions more often; in other words, eat four or five small meals per day instead of three. Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables—five servings a day, ideally. Engage in any sort of physical activity for at least 60 minutes each day, such as:
- walking briskly
Muscle burns more calories than fat, so increased muscle mass can help to burn fat in the long run.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture, or USDA, offers a free online weight loss tool called at MyPyramid.gov 2. This tool is designed to offer personalized diet tips for a healthy lifestyle based on research published in the “Dietary Guidelines for Americans,” which is updated every five years. There’s even a MyPyramid tool designed for preschoolers aged 2 to 5 years old 2. These free tools require you to enter your age, gender, height and level of daily physical activity in order to recommend a customized diet plan. It will tell how many calories you should be consuming each day in order to lose weight. Additionally, it will show the types and amounts of foods you should be choosing. The basic foods recommended by the USDA include whole grains, vegetables, fruit, low-fat dairy and some lean meats. By following the MyPyramid personalized diet plan, children and teens can lose weight and feel healthier in no time 2.
Spark Teens Weight Loss Plan
The creators of SparksPeople weight loss plan for adults have put together a free weight loss plan designed specifically for kids and teens. This weight loss program is completely free to join, and it offers many online weight-loss tools to help children achieve a healthy weight, including an interactive forum where children can speak to others trying to lose weight. All of the information collected at this site complies with the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, or COPPA, so parents can be sure that their child isn’t at risk of sharing private information across the Internet.
- Dave King Dorling Kindersley/Dorling Kindersley/Getty Images