A few extra pounds of fat may look cute on a child, but those pounds can lead to serious health problems down the line, especially if the child continues to be overweight. The number of overweight and obese children has grown substantially since 1980, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. If your child is a bit heavier than he should be, you can work with him and your doctor to find a program to help him shed the excess pounds and learn to eat and exercise healthily.
An after-school program that focuses on getting children moving and teaching them proper nutrition may be just what your child needs. The ideal after-school program should allow your child to exercise or participate in a fun, physical activity for at least 30 minutes a day. You may be able to find a program specifically designed for overweight children, or you may choose to enroll your child in a program that focuses on activity but is open to all children. The program should also provide a healthy snack as well as some instruction about healthy eating.
The U.S. government has several programs designed to help parents and educators battle obesity in children. The We Can! program, sponsored by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), provides information on how to get overweight children active and moving, how to keep children from watching too much television and how to practice proper portion control and healthy eating. The NIH has partnered with community organizations and local governments to bring the program to schools and recreational centers. Another government-sponsored program, “Let’s Move,” provides information for getting children to a healthy weight.
Weight Loss Camps
If your child really struggles with her weight and cannot seem to lose the extra pounds, you may need to send her to a weight control program. Some people believe that weight loss camps are an effective weight to get a child’s weight under control since the child is taken away from her every day environment and is better able to learn new behaviors and eating habits. Do your research on any camp you are considering. Check with your doctor first to make sure it is the best option for her.
Programs at Home
You may not have to enroll your overweight child in a special program to help him lose weight and become healthy. If you are the type to do things yourself, try instituting your own healthy eating and exercise program at home. Limit the junk food, such as soda, chips and candy, that you buy. Encourage your children to eat fruits and vegetables. Set a good example yourself. Don’t eat chips while telling your child to snack on an apple. Start a family exercise day or exercise hour. Go out for a walk or bike ride after dinner or in the early afternoon on the weekends.