Healthy weight during childhood involves a bunch of considerations.
If you have read this 12 part series, you are well aware that there are many things to think about in regards to children and their weight. We’ve covered physical activity, food, feeding and more.
What Influences Your Child’s Weight?
- Screen Time
- Structured Eating
- Portion Sizes
- Fats in Food
- Fruits and Vegetables
- The Power of Appetite
- Added Sugar
- Convenience Food
- Eat Habits
- Family Meals
- Physical Activity
Encouraging a healthy weight in your child isn’t easy–it is a layered, multi-faceted condition that involves what you eat, how you feed, how you feel about your body and self, whether you exercise, and a multitude of environmental influences including school, community, and economic status.
Wouldn’t it be easy to point the finger at one contributor?
Rarely in counseling am I able to name one single issue as the culprit–there is usually a multitude of contributing factors. Pinpointing the critical contributors, such as the 12 I’ve outlined in this series, can build awareness and change.
Childhood Obesity is Complex
Childhood obesity is a complex issue and treating it is far more difficult than preventing it. Yet, prevention hinges on knowledge and commitment, so building awareness, especially among parents, is critical.
Excess weight gain in childhood is no party. The psychosocial impact may begin at a young age and can last a lifetime. The physical impact may perpetuate the problem, challenging children in their efforts to be active. The medical toll is well known, from the affiliated conditions of heart disease to diabetes, as well as the exorbitant cost to our nation.
Yet, a child can be at a healthy weight, no matter what that weight or number on the scale says. And there is SO MUCH HOPE in this. Raising a child with a healthy weight doesn’t mean that child will be thin. But it does mean that a child will live a healthy lifestyle, eat a variety of foods to nourish his or her body, and feel good about it all.
Unhealthy Weight: Treatment
Treatment of childhood obesity is challenging. It generally requires a lifestyle change that involves the entire family. Success is dependent on motivation and commitment, and that is a large and variable factor among families.
Children hold little power and generally assume a “follower” position, relying on parents to lead the effort. Parents make the food shopping decisions, the dining out rules, and the TV allowances–children’s weight status is a by-product of many of these decisions.
As children grow older, they tend to mimic their family habits, adopting behaviors that may or may not support their health. As a parent, leading your child down a healthy eating and lifestyle path is key. If your child is living at an unhealthy weight, adopting eating habits, activity, and a lifestyle that support a healthy weight is the first step.
Preventing Unhealthy Weight
Prevention is the key and it begins in the highchair.
Yes, your early decisions count.
Allowing your toddler a Dum-Dum sucker at the bank drive-through, or Baby Sam a soda in his bottle are the decisions that set the foundation for future tastebuds. Research shows that feeding habits in the first 2 years, especially with sweets, set the precedence for future eating habits.
In other words, if you want your child to eat healthy and be at a healthy weight, you’ve got to pay attention early on. Further, recent research suggests that infants as young as 6 months of age are showing signs of obesity. As the age of 4-6 months is the time to transition to “real food,” this research is compelling and urges parents to pay more attention to what and how they feed their infants in the highchair.
We owe it to our own and our nation’ children to become educated about food and nutrition, be involved in teaching and modeling a healthy lifestyle, be more thoughtful about feeding and role-modeling, be committed to activity, and be committed to prevention, rather than wait until treatment is needed.
As the parent, the gatekeeper, and the leader–it’s up to YOU to do this!
If you need more information about raising a well-nourished child, join my course for parents! The Nourished Child Project is exactly the info you need to set up a healthy food system, an effective and positive feeding strategy, and a lifestyle infrastructure that encourages healthy habits for a lifetime!
Written by: Jill Castle, MS, RDN
Published on: April 7, 2010
Updated on: September 21, 2019