Skip to main content UVA Health logo of UVA Health
Healthy Balance

Is Your Child Overweight? How Parents Can Help Fight Childhood Obesity

family in the kitchen unloading groceriese

Overeating, lack of exercise, and unhealthy diets are creating an obesity epidemic in children and teenagers across the nation. More than 18% of U.S. children and teenagers are obese, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

Why Childhood Obesity Is a Problem

Low self-esteem and bullying issues aren’t the only potential consequences of kids being overweight or obese. They're also more likely to develop more serious health conditions as they age.

A Murdoch Children’s Research Institute research study illustrates the devastating impact obesity can have. The study followed 1,811 children from the first years of life until they were 11 or 12. Children who were overweight as toddlers had:

Metabolic syndrome occurs if you have:

People who have the syndrome are more likely to suffer heart disease, stroke, and Type 2 diabetes.

How Parents Can Help Children Avoid Obesity

As a parent, you strive to keep your kids as healthy as you can. Helping them avoid obesity can go a long way in meeting that goal. Here are a few ways to get kids on track to achieve and maintain a healthier weight.  

Make Regular Exercise a Priority

For most days of the week, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends:

Sports and organized activities aren’t the only ways to fight childhood obesity. Your kids can meet activity recommendations by:

A Custom Plan for Kids

At our Children's Fitness Clinic, a team of specialists develop an individual treatment plan for you and your child. 

Limit Screen Time

Given the choice, many kids would rather spend their free time playing digital games, texting with friends, or watching the latest TikTok videos.

Although your children may need their digital devices for schoolwork and socializing, taking a break for an hour or two every day won’t hurt relationships or homework.

Offer Healthy Meals and Snacks

To prevent childhood obesity, kids should limit sugary foods and beverages, high-carbohydrate snacks, and fried foods. These are better choices:

Does your child have a sweet tooth? Make treats healthier by using half the sugar in recipes for baked goods. You often can’t even taste the difference.

Model Portion Sizes

It’s easy to eat too much when you overestimate portion sizes. For example, these are all one serving:

You can find additional serving sizes through the American Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

Involve Kids in Meal Prep

Your kids may take more interest in healthy eating if they help you plan and prepare meals. Also, you can find plenty of recipes online that are tasty, nutritious, and kid-approved.

Making these lifestyle changes can help keep your children – and the whole family – healthier.

Copyright 2020 © Baldwin Publishing, Inc. All rights reserved. 

Health eCooking® is a registered trademark of Baldwin Publishing, Inc. Cook eKitchen™ is a designated trademark of Baldwin Publishing, Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein without the express approval of Baldwin Publishing, Inc. is strictly prohibited.

Reply & View Comments Search Submit

Subscribe for Updates

Get stories & health tips every week

Related