I.  Definition


 A.  Characteristics

    -  Your child appears overweight.    

    -  Your child weighs more than 30% over the ideal weight for his/her  height.    

    -  Skin fold thickness of arm's fat layer is more than 1 inch (25  millimeters).    

    -  More than 30% of American children are overweight


Adult BMI Values:
Greater than 25 = Overweight more than 85 percentile
Greater than 30 = Obese or more than 95 percentile


 B.  Causes

The tendency to be overweight is usally inherited. If one parent is overweight, half of the children will be overweight.  If both parents are overweight, most of their children will be overweight.  If neither parent is overweight, less than 10% of their children will be overweight. Heredity alone (without overeating) accounts for most mild obesity, whereas moderate obesity is usually due to a combination of heredity, overeating, and under- exercising.  Some overeating is normal in our society, but only those who have the inherited tendency to be overweight will gain weight when they overeat. It is therefore not reasonable to blame your child for being overweight. Less than 1% of obesity has a physical cause. Your physician can easily determine this by a simple physical examination.

 C.  Expected course

  Losing weight is very difficult.  Keeping the weight off is also a chore. The best time for losing weight is when a child is over 15 years old; that is, when she becomes very concerned with appearance.  The self-motivated teenager can follow a diet and lose weight, regardless of what the family eats. Helping children lose weight between 5 and 15 years of age is very difficult because they have access to so many foods outside the home and are not easily motivated to lose weight.  It is not quite as difficult to help a child less than 5 years old to lose weight because the parents have better control of the foods offered to the child.

How To Help Older Children and Teenagers Lose Weight :

 A.  Readiness and motivation

Teenagers can increase their motivation by joining a weight-loss club such as Weight Watchers, or Overeaters Anonymous.  Sometimes schools have classes for helping children lose weight.  A child's motivation can also be improved if diet and exercise programs are undertaken by the entire family; competing with a parent to see who can lose weight faster can be helpful.

B.  Setting weight-loss goals

Pick a realistic target weight, depending on your child's bone structure and degree of obesity. The loss of 1 pound a week is an attainable goal, but your child will have to work quite hard to maintain this rate of weight loss for several weeks. Weigh your child no more than once each week; daily weighings generate too much false hope or disappointment.  When losing weight becomes a strain, have your child take a few weeks off from the weight-loss program.  During this time, help your child stay at a constant weight. Once your child has reached the target weight,the long-range goal is to try to stay within 5 pounds of that weight. Staying at a particular weight is possible only through a permanent moderation in eating.  Your child will probably always have the tendency to gain weight easily and it's important that she understand this.


C.  Diet:  Decreasing calorie consumption

Your child should eat three well-balanced meals a day of average-sized
portions. There are no forbidden foods;your child can have a serving of anything family or friends are eating. However, there are forbidden portions.  While your child is reducing, she must leave the table a bit hungry.  Your child cannot lose weight if she eats until full (satiated).  Encourage average portions and discourage seconds. Shortcuts such as fasting, crash dieting, or diet pills rarely work and may be dangerous.  Calorie counting is helpful for some people, but it is usually too time-consuming.  Consider the following guidelines on what to eat and drink:


Because milk has lots of calories, your child should drink no more than 16 ounces of skim or 1% milk each day.  All other drinks should be either water or diet drinks. Encourage your child to drink 6 - 8 glasses  of water each day.    

Serve fewer fatty foods.  A portion of fat has twice as many calories as the same portion of protein or carbohydrate. Trim the fat off meats.  Serve more baked, broiled, boiled, or steamed foods  (fewer fried foods).  Serve more fruits, vegetables, salads, and grains. 

Encourage smaller-than-average portions.  Encourage  more Jell-O and fresh fruits as desserts. 

         Avoid rich desserts.

         Do not serve seconds. 

Serve only low-calorie foods such as raw vegetables    (carrot sticks, celery sticks, raw potato sticks, pickles, etc.), raw fruits (apples, oranges, cantaloupe, etc.), popcorn, or  diet soft drinks.   Limit snacks to two each day.    

Give your child one multivitamin tablet daily during  the weight-loss program .


 D.  Eating habits

To counteract the tendency to gain weight, your youngster must be taught eating habits that will last for a lifetime.  You can help your child lose and keep off unwanted pounds by doing the following:


     -  Discourage skipping any of the three basic meals.    

     -  Encourage drinking a glass of water before meals.    

     -  Serve smaller portions.     

     -  Suggest chewing the food slowly.    

     -  Offer second servings only if your child has waited for 10  minutes after finishing the first serving.    

     -  Don't purchase high-calorie snack foods such as potato chips,  candy, or regular pop.    

     -  Do purchase and keep available diet soft drinks, fresh fruits,  and vegetables.    

     -  Leave only low-calorie snacks out on the counter

     -  fruit, for example.  Put away the cookie jar. 

     -  Store food only in the kitchen.  Keep it out of other rooms.   

     -  Offer no more than two snacks each day.  Discourage your child  from continual snacking ("grazing") throughout the day.

     -  Allow eating in your home only at the kitchen or dining-room  table.  Discourage eating while watching TV, studying, riding in a car, ........shopping in a store.  Once eating becomes associated with these activities, the body learns to expect it.    

     -  Discourage eating alone.    

     -  Help your child reward herself for hard work or studying with a  movie, TV, music, or a book rather than food.    

     -  Put up reminder cards on the refrigerator and bathroom mirror  that state:  EAT LESS.

 E.  Exercise:  Increasing calorie expenditure    

Daily exercise can increase the rate of weight loss as well as the sense of physical well- being. The combination of diet and exercise is the most effective way to lose weight.



  Try the following forms of exercise[#Marin,11,7,Italic,]:    

    -  Walking instead of riding in a car.    

    -  Using stairs instead of elevators.    

    -  Learning new sports.  Swimming and jogging are the sports that    burn the most calories. Your child's school may have an aerobic class.    

    -  Taking the dog for a long walk.    

    -  Spending 30 minutes a day exercising or dancing to records or  music on TV.    

    -  Using an exercise bike or Hula Hoop while watching TV.  (Limit TV sitting time to 2 hours or less each day.)


 F.  Social activities:

       Keeping the mind off food

The more outside activities your child participates in, the easier it will be for her to lose weight. Spare time fosters nibbling.  Most snacking occurs between 3:00 and 6:00 p.m.  Help your child fill after-school time with activities such as music, drama, sports, or scouts. A part-time job after school may help. 

If nothing else, encourage your child to call or visit friends.  An active social life almost always leads to weight reduction.

1. Eat fish, shellfish and more poultry more frequently.

2.. Trim visible fat from meats and poultry before and after cooking.    Use only lean cuts of meat.

3. Bake, broil or grill rather than fry.

4. Offer skim or 1% low fat dairy products.

5. Substitute tub margarine for butter.

6. Read food labels carefully:



                     SUBSTITUTION LIST


FOOD           --------         SUGGESTED SUBSTITION

Milk: whole or 2%   .....     Skim milk or 1% low fat

Whole milk yogurt   ......    Non-fat or low fat yogurt

Cream                   .,,,,,..,, Evaporated skim milk

Sour cream            .........  Non-fat or low fat yogurt

Whipped cream-       .....   Whipped evaporated skim milk

Cheese               ...........  Limited amounts of part skim cheese  
with less
than 5 grams
fat per1 oz.wt.

Non-dairy           ........    Whipped evaporated skim milk or      
whipped topping free
of coconut oil
palm kernel oil



Bacon                  ......... Lean ham

Salt pork           .........    Lean ham

Fried foods        ........     Baked, broiled or grilled foods

Sausage, salami,  .....      Lean meats, skinless poultry,         
fish pepperoni

Luncheon meats     ....    Lean sliced meats such as turkey, turkey

Frankfurters         .......   Chicken or turkey frankfurters

Pasta with cheese   . ...   Pasta with marinara sauce and lean    
meat, no cheese

Pizza               .........    Blot oil, limit portion size and frequency

Poultry             ........    Skinless poultry

Chocolate candy  ....     Diet candy or apple

Pie, pastry        ......     Fresh fruit or home prepared pie or 
pastry from appropriate

Cookies, crackers  ..     low fat low calorie (limited amount)   
Read labels carefully
and select only


               limit portions **

Snack chips        ...     Pretzels or fat free popcorn

Ice cream          ....     Ice milk, low fat frozen yogurt,
fruit  ices(low fat)
sherbet(without cream)


and french toast-  ..     Prepare egg whites or eggs  (broiled)


Fast food:

Fried foods        ....     Select a plain burger and juice, or
soda saladswith
only low fat salad dressings