How to Help Your Overweight Child

From the September 2006 edition of Dr. Fuhrman’s Healthy Times:

If you already have an overweight child, make some changes in your family life. To solve the problem of childhood obesity, we first need to change parental behavior. This will require you adopt a new way of thinking. As Albert Einstein said, “We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.”
1. Don’t make the major interactions with your child be about body weight. Interact about other issues.

2. Set up weekly family discussion meetings. Make an agenda for the meeting. All members can present topics for discussion. Discuss health issues as a family each week. Give each family member equal attention and equal concern and discuss the reasons for the new family health initiative and how all members will benefit. Do not focus more attention on the overweight family member. Study and discuss parts of my book Disease-Proof Your Child or other valuable health sources at family meetings. Have the children participate.

3. Parents tell me that when they listen to the audio book of Disease-Proof Your Child as they ride around in the car, it rubs off on the kids and spurs discussion on dietary issues.

4. Plan fun, physical activities for the family. Devise solutions for more exercise for the whole family. Get involved with some type of physical activity, taking up a sport, hiking, running, climbing, or any other activity that involves movement. All must participate, not only the overweight child. Parents cannot just watch; they must model a healthy attitude about fitness and physical fun.

5. Make dietary goals that the entire family understands and can agree to adopt. Lay out an eating plan for dinners and school lunches that promotes long-term health.

6. Praise your child for issues not related to weight loss or gain. Make other issues as important, such as school work, ethics, care for others, attitude towards learning, and development skills.

Don’t reward behavior with unhealthful food. Show your kids and others that treats on special occasions can be healthful and still taste good. Set a good example at birthday parties. Get junk food out of the house, and try to have the entire family supportive of this action. Creatively try to get the whole family to make the promise to “say NO to junk food.”
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