New Year's Resolution: Help Your Child Lose Weight

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If you are the parent of an overweight child, you can make a life-changing New Year’s resolution this year: help your child lose weight. It is a resolution that can make a significant difference in the future of your child’s health.

The statistics on childhood overweight and obesity are disturbing: 12.4 percent of children aged 2 to 5 years, 17 percent of those aged 6 to 11 years, and 17.6 percent of those aged 12 to 19 years are obese, according to data from the NHANES surveys reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Children who are obese are at increased risk for heart disease, diabetes, stroke, and other serious conditions, and are more likely to remain overweight as adults.

Any weight loss program should be a family affair, as parents are critical role models for their children when it comes to good eating habits and physical activity. Getting children to change eating and exercise habits can be a challenge, so parents can turn to various weight loss programs that can be of assistance. Here are just a few to consider. Parents are encouraged to talk to their pediatrician about weight loss programs for their children.

Just For Kids! was developed at the University of California School of Medicine and is based on the country’s leading pediatric obesity program. Just For Kids! is a health education program for all children which provides ways for them to change their diet, exercise, and communication, which then results in weight loss, improved cardiovascular and physical fitness, and a better knowledge of nutrition. The 10-week program provides a workbook that guides children through changes in their habits. Parents can visit the Just For Kids! website for more information.

We Can! stands for Ways to Enhance Children’s Activity & Nutrition and is a national movement designed to provide parents and caregivers tools to help children aged 8 to 13 stay at a healthy weight. We Can! offers tools, fun activities, worksheets, and other resources that encourage healthy eating, increased physical activity, and less time sitting in front of a computer or television.

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We Can! is the result of efforts from four institutes of the National Institutes of Health: the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, and the National Cancer Institute. Parents have free access online to a wide variety of resources, including but not limited to parent handbooks, physical activity worksheets, quizzes, Power Point presentations, and tip sheets. The We Can! website is the place to start.

A new program called Thin Adventure™ Children’s Weight Loss Program, offered by Smart for Life, is being marketed as an affordable 30-day weight loss program specially designed for children aged 6 to 14. The program was designed by a bariatric physician, Dr. Sasson Moulavi, and requires parents or caregivers to purchase the foods for the program.

The Thin Adventure foods include cupcakes, cookies, soups, shakes, cereals, and more that are higher in fiber and protein and lower in fat and sugar than conventional foods. These healthy snacks and meal replacements can be used by the entire family. The program also includes fresh foods from the recommended USDA food groups. To motivate children to stay with the program, Thin Adventure has an interactive website that includes games, nutrition information, recipes, and more.

Parents can also turn to their child’s school for help. A national effort called “Fuel Up to Play 60” is a collaboration between the National Football League and the National Dairy Council. This youth-led program is designed to help children and adolescents take control of and improve their health by engaging in 60 minutes of physical exercise daily and making nutritious food choices.

“Fuel Up To Play 60” allows children a chance to get involved in a nationwide competition between participating students and schools, which is a motivating factor for weight loss. Parents can get more information from the “Fuel Up to Play 60” website or from their school administrators.

As 2010 approaches, New Year’s resolutions are on our minds. This year, parents can make a resolution that will have life-time consequences: helping an overweight child lose weight and learn healthy habits that can stay with that child throughout his or her life. It is a New Year’s resolution parents won’t want to quit.

SOURCES:
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Fuel Up to Play 60 website
Just for Kids! website
National Institutes of Health
Thin Adventure website
We Can! website

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