Overweight children

More and more children and teenagers are overweight. Bad eating habits, lack of physical activity and sitting in front of the television and computer for hours are the principle causes. It's important to take immediate steps in improving your child's weight by gradually changing your family's physical activity and eating habits.

Overweight children

+ The percentage of children and teenagers who are overweight is alarming: over the last two decades, this number has increased by more than 50 percent, and the number of “extremely” overweight children has nearly doubled.

Children whose parents, brothers or sisters are overweight may be at an increased risk of becoming overweight themselves. Genetic factors play a role in increasing the likelihood that a child will be overweight. If a child has a mother or father who is obese there's a 40 percent chance he will also be obese. If both parents are obese, the percentage goes up to 80 percent. Although weight problems run in families, not all children with a family history of obesity will be overweight; shared family behaviors such as eating and exercise habits also influence body weight. Eating habits are generally developed during childhood, if a child's parents are obese they are likely to adopt unhealthy eating habits.


Associating food with how we feel is one of the most common emotional mechanisms we learn in childhood. Children are taught daily that soda drinks are to celebrate and vegetables are a punishment, a type of necessary torture. Foods that are given to children as a type of prize or payment are going to turn into their favorite foods. While foods that they are forced to eat, will be progressively rejected. This is why it's important to teach children the pleasure in simple homemade foods, that have all the necessary nutrients for their growth.

Some parents think that the answer is to put their child on a strict diet, but this is not the long-term solution. The best way to begin is to learn more about children's nutritional needs by reading or talking with a health professional and then to offer your children some healthy options, allowing them to choose what and how much they eat. The practitioner will probably offer three strategies:

• Reducing the amount of fat in your child's diet.

• Increasing the amount of physical activity for your child.

• Identifying and treating your own habits about weight control.

In relation to the last point, it's important to watch your child's behavior to determine if he eats when he is anxious, bored or nervous. In these cases, parents should consult a therapist to accompany medical treatment.

Being overweight isn't only a physical condition; it is related to overall well-being.


Obesity in children can cause problems for kids in relation to their self-image. They suffer from this problem because their classmates may poke fun at them, affecting their self-esteem. Once this attitude has been incorporated, it's difficult to reverse it. In general, kids who are overweight during adolescence and suffer from discrimination by their friends, family and school peer groups, tend to have problems in their adult lives.


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