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Your Child Who is Overweight: Care Instructions

Your Care Instructions

Your child's weight can affect the way your child feels about himself or herself. It may also affect your child's health.

You can help your child reach a healthy weight. Encourage him or her to be more active and to choose healthy foods.

You and your child don't have to make huge changes at once. You can start by making small changes as a family. When those become habits, add a few more changes.

If you have questions about how to change your family's eating or exercise habits, talk with your doctor. He or she can help you get started. Or the doctor may suggest that you get more help from someone else, such as a registered dietitian or an exercise specialist.

Follow-up care is a key part of your child's treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse advice line (811 in most provinces and territories) if your child is having problems. It's also a good idea to know your child's test results and keep a list of the medicines your child takes.

How can you care for your child at home?

  • Set goals that are possible. Your doctor can help set a good weight goal.
  • Avoid weight loss diets. They can affect your child's growth in height.
  • Make healthy changes as a family. Try not to single out your child.
  • Ask your doctor about other health professionals who can help you and your child make healthy changes.
    • A dietitian can suggest new food ideas and help you and your child with healthy eating choices.
    • An exercise specialist or personal trainer can help you and your child find fun ways to be active.
    • A counsellor or psychiatrist can help you and your child with any issues that may make it hard to focus on healthy choices. These may include depression, anxiety, or family problems.
  • Try to talk about your child's health, activity level, and other healthy choices. Try not to talk about your child's weight. The way you talk about your child's body can really affect how your child feels about their body.

To eat well

  • Eat together as a family as much as possible. Offer the same food choices to the whole family.
  • Keep a regular meal and snack routine. Don't snack all day. Schedule snacks for when your child is most hungry, such as after school or exercise. This is important because if children skip a meal or snack, they may overeat at the next meal or make unhealthy food choices.
  • Share the responsibility. You decide when, where, and what the family eats. But your child chooses how much, whether, and what to eat from the options you provide. This can help prevent eating problems caused by power struggles.
  • Don't use food to reward your child for doing a good job or for eating all of their green beans. You want your child to eat healthy food because it's healthy, not so they can eat dessert.
  • Serve fruits and vegetables at every meal. You can add some fruit to your child's morning cereal and put sliced vegetables in your child's lunch.

To be more active

  • Move more. Make physical activity a part of your family's daily life. Encourage your child to be active for at least 1 hour every day.
  • Keep total TV and computer time to less than 2 hours each day. Encourage outdoor play as often as possible.

Where can you learn more?

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Care instructions adapted under license by your healthcare professional. If you have questions about a medical condition or this instruction, always ask your healthcare professional. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.