Are you worried about your child's weight?

Earlier this month we talked about "Helping Our Kids Be Healthy" for Childhood Obesity Awareness Month. Preventing childhood obesity is best but what if you are worried that your child is already carrying too much weight? Watching your own weight is stressful enough but worrying if your child is overweight or even obese can be overwhelming. While managing weight is no easy task, for parent or child, here are a few of our favorite tips to get you started in the right direction.

1. Check with your doctor - Before you decide that your child is overweight or obese, check with the pediatrician. They can plot height and weight and compare those statistics with previous years or recommended norms.

2. Don't start a campaign - We don't want to make weight a big deal. There's no need to point out that little Sarah is going to start losing weight or telling the whole family that Sarah shouldn't eat pizza and ice cream. Kids don't want to be different. You also don't want to sit your child down for a long conversation on the evil woes of sugar, the importance of a balanced diet and how to track calories. The focus should be on getting the whole family healthy - not skinny.

Historic poster of early weight loss campaigns

3. Make it a family affair - Speaking of the family, make sure that everyone in the family is doing similar things. Everyone could benefit from going on a walk, eating smaller portions and choosing fruit over sugary desserts a few nights a week. Make it fun! How about a family dance party, or a backyard obstacle course, or going to one of those really fun trampoline parks? Fitness and food can be fun.

4. Model great behavior - Unfortunately kids don't respond well to "Do as I say, not as I do." They'll be the first to pick up on that discrepancy. Are you asking your kids to eat broccoli when you refuse to do it? Make living a healthy lifestyle real. For example, a mom might say to her kids, "It's really hard to make a good choice. I'd much rather eat this cupcake but I know I'll feel better if I choose a piece of fruit." Our kids are watching us all the time.

5. Get kids involved - Don't make family fitness and health your sole responsibility. Based on your kids' ages you can get them involved. At the grocery store, have your kids pick out a new fruit or vegetable. At home, let your kids pick out a few recipes for dinner from a healthy cooking website (try www.eatingwell.com). Before school, teach your kids how to make healthy lunches (read more here).

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