The epidemic of childhood obesity continues and more children gain more weight. Not only is the percent of children and teens overweight but the degree of weight gain continues to rise. Young teens are developing high blood pressure, diabetes and high cholesterol just like their overweight parents. With 74% of men, and 64% of women overweight, that leaves about 25 million households with an overweight parent and one or more overweight children or teens. The eating in this group may be the easiest and most productive to reverse. Trying to isolate and treat an overweight child with normal weight parents and sibs is difficult and more often than not fails. Singling out a child for special food and exercise never works in the long run. Asking normal weight siblings or parents to “diet” does not work either. Why should the normal weight brother or sister also have to restrict his or her food?
Confusing the Goals of Overeating Children and Teens with Overweight Adults:
The answer is they don't have to restrict their food, neither does the overweight sibling because the goals for overeating and overweight children are totally different than for overweight adults. The typical adult diet is designed for overweight individuals to lose weight by a combination of reducing food intake and increasing energy output with exercise. The rate of weight loss depends upon how the program is conceived and carried out. No one would be satisfied losing two lbs. a month, yet at the end of the year that is 25 lbs. Whether its special foods, counting one thing or another, restricting one food group for another, at the end of a year everyone trying with just a little effort can lose 10% of their body weight. The goal in adults is weight loss, the difference between diets is simply how it is done.
Monthly Weight Gain is Normal for Kids and Teens:
The goal in children and teens may not be weight loss. It is normal for children to gain 6 to 10 lbs. per year as they mature. If the parents simply stop the weight gain, most children in a year or two will grow into their normal weight. It's much easier to stop weight gain, than to actually lose it, especially when the weight gain is part of the “normal” maturation process.
All that is needed is to make 1 or 2 changes in the whole family's eating. This will let the overweight child stop the accelerated weight gain and become normal weight in a year or two. No one will miss a juice box a day or two cookies, yet each one of these unnecessary foods or drinks adds 10 lbs. a year to a child's weight gain. Every long term study of children and teens who successfully lose weight and keep it off are based on plans that involve the whole family, especially a child and one or more parent. The most success is seen in younger children with parental involvement.