Eating too much and exercising too little is a sure way for your child to be overweight or obese. Childhood obesity can lead to many health issues that are carried into adulthood.

Therefore, it is important that you take an active role to inculcate healthy eating and being physically active in your children so that they will grow up with the right attitude and health habits that will carry forward into their adult life.

Is my child overweight?

Take your child’s height (m) and weight (kg) and calculate his/her BMI (Body Mass Index): BMI = weight / (height x height). Base on the child’s age, look up the BMI-for-age-chart ( one each for boys and girls).

  • Acceptable weight – 5th -90th percentile
  • Overweight – 90th – 97th percentile
  • Obese – more than 97th percentile

How can I help my overweight child?

It is important that the whole family gets involve changing the diet and physical activities, so that you do not single out the child.

Do not put your child on any weight loss diet unless specified by your doctor or nutritionist. According to Associate Professor Lee Yung Sen, senior consultant at the University Children Medical Institute in the National University Hospital, weight loss diet may “deprive the child of essential nutrition” and can affect the child’s growth or put him at risk of developing eating disorder.

Be supportive and show your child that you love him regardless of the weight. Listen to your child’s concerns on his weight. He needs understanding, support and encouragement from parents and the family.

Encourage healthy eating habits:

  • Stock and offer more fruits and vegetables. Get the child to eat more whole grains. Convert white bread to whole meal bread, white rice to brown rice.
  • Reduce soft drinks, snacks and high calories food available at home
  • Make sure the child eats a healthy breakfast
  • Eat fast food less often
  • Offer low fat milk, fresh juice and plenty of water to hydrate
  • Start with small serving at first and increase when necessary.
  • Get the whole family to eat healthier meals together rather than serving only to the obese child

Encourage daily physical activities

  • Children need 60 minutes of physical activities each day. It need not be happening all at once. It could be 10 minutes each time throughout the day.
  • Set a good example by being physically active yourself.  Show your child that you enjoy exercising and it can be fun.
  • Encourage your child to join a sport team in school or in the community center.
  • Be active together as a family. Do regular physical activities together; biking, badminton, basketball, and swimming are some examples where the whole family can get involved have some bonding time
  • Discourage inactive pastime
  • Set time limits on watching TV, playing video games or being on the computer.
  • Encourage your child to get up and move about during TV commercials.

What are the ways you have helped your overweight child that has help? Do share with me in the comment box below.

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