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If my child is at risk of becoming overweight, what can I do about it?

Doctors as a rule don’t generally recommend restrictive diets or weight loss programs for children, as they’re necessary only in extreme cases. In fact, a restrictive diet can be harmful to a child’s health and interfere with his growth and development if it isn’t carefully monitored. Instead, your child’s doctor will most likely want you to work with your child to improve his eating habits and his activity level.
Ask your doctor for suggestions on how you can help your child develop healthy eating habits. She may suggest that you consult a registered dietician to help you create a balanced eating plan for your child.
Keep in mind that if the whole family is eating healthy foods for each meal and snack; your child will find it easier to do the same.
In addition, you should help your child steer clear of these bad habits which can cause weight gain:
 
Unsupervised snacking:
Limit choices like chips and cookies and replace them with healthy options like fresh fruits and vegetables, low-fat yoghurts and cheeses. It’s also important to ensure that your child doesn’t spend the whole day munching, even on healthy foods.
 
Eating while watching television:
A child who is distracted by her favourite cartoon may not recognise when she is full. Help your child learn to listen to his body’s signals to tell him when he has had enough.
 
Consuming excessive amounts of soda or juice:
Save soda and other sweet beverages for special occasions, if at all. While fruit juice counts as a daily serving of fruit, too much juice can fill up your child so that he won’t be hungry at mealtimes for other nourishing foods that he needs. Limit juice to about six ounces a day.
 
Spending too much time in front of the TV or computer:
Kids can get sucked into sitting still for hours. In addition, TV advertisements encourage the consumption of high-calorie, nutrient poor “junk” foods. To encourage physical activity, keep TVs out of bedrooms and limit the amount of time kids are allowed watch them.
Instead of nagging or ridiculing your child about his weight, which is likely to make him resentful and less likely to want to comply, try to give him the opportunity to choose healthy foods and activities and praise him for it when he does. Don’t forget to set a good example by eating well yourself as at this age parents are still their children’s biggest role-models.
It’s not advisable to start subjecting your child to regular weigh-ins at home either as they can become a source of anxiety. However, if your child’s BMI is above the 95th percentile, your doctor may ask to see him once a month to monitor his progress. It’s important to treat these visits like any other trip to the doctor, and don’t make a big-deal about the weigh in process. Instead, focus on developing healthy habits, rather than on your child’s weight.

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