A child is considered obese if their weight exceeds the normal weight range for their height by 20 percent. While some children may have a predisposition for obesity through their genes–overeating, eating the wrong foods, and lack of exercise are all major contributors to the epidemic our society is facing today.

If you have an overweight child, contact your child’s pediatrician before you place them on a diet. If you improperly place your child on a diet, their health could suffer. Reducing calories or cutting meals without the supervision of a physician can be detrimental to a child’s growth.

Most pediatricians will recommend that an overhaul be made in the child’s eating habits, with an emphasis on healthy eating. Pediatricians and nutritionalists can work with parents to establish a healthy meal plan that is pleasing to both child and parent.

Children who weigh too little

Children who are thin may be at risk for health and developmental problems if they do not consume the proper foods. Adequate nutrition is important for the normal growth and development of bones, organs, muscles and tissues, and a strong immune system. Improper eating habits and lack of exercise can also develop unhealthy behavior patterns in children that can remain with them throughout their life.

While most children cannot be made to like foods they deem as “yucky,” there are many things you can do to ensure your children consume the necessary foods which benefit their health. It just requires a little ingenuity and forethought.

Tips for healthful eating:

  • try not to bring junk food into the home
  • stock up on cereals which are high in fiber over sweet cereals
  • offer crackers and peanut butter over chips
  • offer celery, carrots and cucumbers with a child’s favorite dip
  • replace fruit roll-ups with dried fruits
  • offer vanilla wafers, animal crackers, graham crackers and fig cookies instead of high fat cookies
  • replace ice cream with frozen yogurt
  • have pretzels on hand to replace chips, or cracker jacks
  • place fresh fruit in bowls around the house
  • be creative with vegetables
    • mash the cauliflower like potatoes, add cheese to broccoli, and provide ketchup for pinto beans
  • if your child does not like sauce, cook their meat separate without the sauce
  • stock up on whole grain, organic tortillas
    • use them at breakfast time for eggs and sausage
    • use them at lunch for grilled chicken, salad and cheese roll ups
    • use them at supper for tomatoes, beef and rice