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Slimming Against Childhood Obesity; Treating Child Obesity; Diet for Overweight Children; Obese Children

Abstract: Should I encourage my overweight children to slim? Is slimming recommended for overweight children?

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Slimming Against Childhood Obesity; Treating Child Obesity; Diet for Overweight Children; Obese Children

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Question(s): 
Written by: Gunborg Palme, certified psychologist and certified psychotherapist, teacher and tutor in psychotherapy.
First version: 22 Jul 2008.
Latest revision: Dec 2013.

Should I encourage my overweight children to slim? What diet for treating childhood obesity do you recommend? Can child obesity

Answer:

Nobody should engage in short-term slimming. Overweight children need help in order to prevent harmful eating and instead get into good habits. Children do not become fat if they exercise sufficiently and get satisfaction from wholesome food.

Children are not usually sufficiently mature to take responsibility, but need help from their parents, teachers and other suitable people in their environment if they are to avoid eating disorders and overweight. It is difficult, however, for parents and others to resist those commercial interests, which make a profit from selling harmful junk food to children. There is a risk that our children satisfy their hunger with potato chips, candy and soft drinks instead of real food. What our children really need is a junk food free environment where there is good and healthy food accessible when they are hungry. Exercise needs to be a natural part of the school day where the children move automatically when they walk between different school premises. The children used to get exercise walking and biking to school, but nowadays the streets are no longer safe, and so they go by bus or car.

Children can be helped as follows:

  • Teach them to be aware of real hunger and satisfaction. Give them food only when they are hungry.
  • Keep only wholesome low-fat food at home; no potato chips, candy, cookies, soda, etc.
  • Perhaps you might want to give your child a dog, which will take the focus away from eating and bring the child outside. If children are given a dog, it will help to take their interest away from junk food and encourage them to take exercise by going out with the dog. A dog might to some extent, increase a child's willingness to take responsibility. Pets of all kinds have a calming effect on children.
  • Let them take some fruit to school in order to prevent hunger.
  • No money for sweets when they go to school.
  • Find a pleasant way to exercise with them, e.g. walking, cycling or swimming.
  • Cooperate with other parents and demand a junk food free environment for the children. Their health (allergies, asthma, diabetes, obesity, eating disorders, etc.) must have priority over the forces of the free market.
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