Safe And Effective Weight Loss Strategies For Children

Being overweight can lead to serious problems at any age. When children struggle with excess weight, parents have the responsibility of ensuring their children lose weight safely.

Whatever the reasons are for excess weight, a holistic approach to weight loss can achieve desirable results. In this article, you'll learn how children can safely and efficiently lose weight.

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Why do children suffer from excess weight?

Children scarcely face weight issues when they have healthy eating habits and exercise regularly. However, in rare cases, being overweight may result from an underlying health condition. Therefore, it's important to determine the cause of the extra weight before considering how to lose it.

The most common reasons for excess weight in children are:

  • Unhealthy eating habits: Consuming high-calorie, low-nutrient foods and beverages, and overeating.

  • Lack of physical activity: Not exercising enough, spending too much time on sedentary activities like watching TV, gaming, and using other entertainment devices.

  • Genetics: If parents or relatives have weight issues, it’s likely to arise with their child, too. If both parents suffer from obesity, the chance of their child developing it is as high as 80%¹.

  • Hormonal abnormalities: Only a few medical causes can lead to obesity in childhood. Examples are hypothyroidism, growth hormone deficiency, and Cushing's syndrome².

If traditional weight-loss methods don't work for your child, consider seeing a doctor. A pediatrician will run some blood tests to determine if there is a medical issue.

Is my child overweight?

Many parents put off weight loss efforts for their children because they believe "all children are chubby." While chubbiness may look cute, it can eventually lead to health problems including:

  • High cholesterol 

  • High blood pressure

  • Diabetes

  • Asthma

  • Problems with bones

  • Fungal infection

  • Acne, heat rash, and other skin issues

To find out if your child is overweight, you can check their BMI³.

BMI norms differ for adults and children. If you’re concerned, speak to a pediatrician.

How can a child lose weight at home?

While all children can face excess weight, studies⁴ show obesity is more prevalent in boys than girls 5–19 years old. If your child has a weight problem, you can start with these simple measures:

1. Eliminate processed and fast food

Processed and fast food are full of excess calories. Children can be fond of fast food, and many parents usually have difficulty saying "no." Today, an average American family spends around 50% of their food budget⁵ on eating out.

According to a recent study⁶, children who eat fast food more than three times a week have a higher risk of developing asthma than those who don't. So, besides the notable benefits of weight loss, eliminating fast food may improve your child's respiratory health.

2. Make changes slowly

Drastic diet changes can be tough on a child, so gradually replacing unhealthy food with fruits and vegetables is best. Try to limit visits to fast food joints or restaurants to once per week.

Children are often unhappy with change. So, the slower you implement their healthy eating habits, the easier the process will be. Consider making a couple of diet changes per week.

3. Cut down screen time

Any time children spend in front of a screen is time they don't spend moving around. Replacing some screen time with physical activities can contribute to weight loss tremendously.

If you limit your child’s screen time, they are likely to find an active way to entertain themself.

4. Monitor activity time

According to the CDC⁷, preschoolers need to be physically active throughout the day. Meanwhile, children between 6 and 17 should spend at least 60 minutes on moderate-to-vigorous intensity activity every day.

If your child is not used to physical activity, introduce it slowly. Begin by adding activities with moderate intensity like walking or running. To lose weight, children can focus on aerobic exercises that make their hearts beat faster, like biking, playing ball games, and rollerblading.

5. Avoid distracted eating

Snacking while playing computer games or doing homework contributes to weight gain. When your brain is focusing on another activity, it doesn’t process that you’re eating.

When you’re distracted, it’s easy to miss your body’s signals telling you that you’re full. It’s also hard to enjoy your meal properly. As a result, children tend to eat more than they need.

While many parents want to know how to lose weight fast for boys and girls, it's important to understand that quick weight loss isn't healthy. When children start losing weight quickly, they may experience unpleasant side effects such as:

  • Dizziness

  • Fatigue

  • Chills

  • Muscle cramps

  • Constipation

  • Diarrhea

They could also lose muscle mass and experience metabolism issues. The safest rate of weight loss for children is one pound per month. Teenagers can aim to lose one pound per week. For reference, a safe weight loss rate for adults is one to two pounds per week.

How to lose weight as a child

If you’re a child and you’re unhappy with your weight, you can try these tips:

  • Cut down on processed and fast food and load up on fruits and veggies.

  • Stay as active as possible.

  • Replace screen time with outdoor activities.

  • Don't eat in front of a TV, computer, smartphone, or other gadgets.

  • Avoid unhealthy high-calorie foods⁸.

  • Listen to your body and stop eating as soon as you feel full.

There’s a lot of advice on how to lose weight for kids, but the first thing to do is talk to your parents. They can help you lose weight safely without you feeling sick, hungry, irritated, or distressed.

What can I do if my child is overweight?

If your child is overweight, you can help them lose excess pounds by:

  • Being supportive: If your child isn’t allowed to eat fast and processed food, eliminate them from your diet as well. Show your kids what healthy eating and exercising is all about. You can improve your health in the process.

  • Setting goals: You can set a weight loss goal with your child and help them achieve it. Make sure to reward them when they meet their goal. The reward shouldn't be food-related.

  • Planning meals: Meal planning can help your child avoid overeating. It can also cut unhealthy snacking down.

  • Motivating them: Your child should understand why being overweight is bad for them. Educate your child about possible health issues and always reward them for their efforts.

If your child doesn't lose weight even after trying the steps in this article, consider contacting a pediatrician to ensure there aren’t any underlying health problems.

The lowdown

Children with excess weight have a higher risk of developing chronic health conditions like asthma, diabetes, and heart disease. While many parents are looking for instructions on how to lose weight fast for boys and girls, there is no magic formula.

If your child is overweight, you can help them lose the extra pounds by encouraging them and implementing lifestyle changes. Safe weight loss has to be gradual. Otherwise, a child could face health problems. Thankfully, children tend to lose weight much easier than adults do.

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