As more and more children are determined to be overweight and the focus is drawn in on the dangers of childhood obesity parents begin to look for ways in which they can help their children slim down and improve their health at the same time.
The difficulty with this; however, is that weight loss in children must be approached far differently than weight loss for adults. Children have far different nutritional needs and it is imperative when considering a weight loss program for children that those nutritional needs be addressed right along with weight loss tools and strategies.
One of the most important facts regarding weight loss for children we need to understand relates to the amount of calories that all children need to consume each day in order to allow for their energy output as well as simple normal activities such as breathing, etc. The amount of calories each child needs will, of course, vary from one child to the next and will vary somewhat based on gender and age. Boys between the ages of 7 and 10 needs approximately 2000 calories per day while that amount increases to 2,500 for ages 11 to 14 and then increases once again to 3,000 calories for ages 15 to 18.
For girls it is slightly different. 7 to 10 year old girls need 2000 calories just like their male counterparts; however, beginning at age 11 the amount of needed calories begins to differ. Girls between the ages of 11 and 18 need only 2,200 calories.
One thing that does not change regarding weight loss for children and adults is the fact that in order to lose weight calories must be reduced. This can be accomplished through cutting back on the number of calories consumed, exercising to burn calories or a combination of both strategies. Ideally, a sensible weight loss program for both adults and children would include both strategies.
When beginning a weight loss program for kids it is particularly important to remember that while you want to stop the child from gaining any further weight and hopefully even lose some weight, kids are still growing in terms of height and you don’t want to impair their nutrition and cause a deficiency.
Like adults, it is never a good idea for kids to lose a lot of weight during a short period of time. Not only is it not healthy, but most kids are less likely to keep the weight off than if they lose it moderately. The rule of thumb for most kid’s weight loss programs focus on losing weight at a rate of about 10% per each goal.
If you are concerned and think that your child may be obese, it’s important to know that you are not alone in your concern. Health care professionals have expressed growing concern that a large percentage of children are experiencing problems with weight management. Parents are beginning to pick up on that concern and a recent survey found that as many as 30% of parents are at least somewhat concerned regarding their children’s weight.
When concerned about your child’s weight, it is important to address it now rather than later. One of the best things you can do is to make sure that your child sees his or her pediatrician on a regular basic. One of the essentials of any health checkup is to measure your child’s weight and height. Of course, every child differs, but your health care professional will be able to determine whether your child may be experiencing weight problems based on his or her medical history and typical growth patterns.
It is important not to panic if you think that your child may be overweight. It could be that your child’s weight is normal and they are simply in between growth patterns, etc. Your physician will be able to make a determination regarding whether your child’s weight is normal by measuring his or her Body Mass Index. This will take both your child’s height and weight into account and determine a number which is then compared against a growth chart. The chart is categorized by both gender and age.
If it is determined that your child may be experiencing some weight loss problems, your pediatrician may choose to perform some tests to determine the root of the problem. It could be that the problem isn’t your child overeating or not getting enough activity at all. In some cases problems associated with the thyroid can cause weight gain. If that’s the case, medication may be used to control or correct the problem.
If an endocrine disorder is ruled out, it may be necessary for your child to begin using a weight management program in order to get their weight under control. Your physician can make recommendations regarding diet changes and appropriate levels of physical activity for your child.
In the event that it is found that your child is significantly overweight, your pediatrician may also recommend a weight management program that is physician guided or suggest that you work with a dietician to help your child lose the extra weight.
If you’re concerned about your child’s weight, always seek assistance from your pediatrician first, as an overly restrictive diet can cause significant problems in your child’s growing and developing body.