The numbers concerning childhood obesity in America are sobering, and parents across the country are responding to the crisis in various ways, including enrolling kids in sports programs, encouraging physical exercise, and putting their children on diets. The decision to place a child on a diet plan presents some challenges, however, which parents ought to consider before deciding to implement one. Here are 10 concerns about using this approach to remedy a child’s weight problem:
. All diets are not created equal. The nutritional value of the foods that kids eat is more important than their caloric intake. You don’t want to simply reduce the amount of food your child eats at the expense of necessary nutrients.
. Diets alone are not enough. Any weight reduction plan should include an exercise regimen as well. Overall health depends as much on physical fitness as it does proper diet and weight. Make sure your child is burning calories through an active lifestyle, and not just losing weight by limiting what she eats.
. Emotional issues are often a root cause, or a side-effect of a child being overweight. In either case, a diet that attempts to address the problem could trigger an eating disorder, causing more serious problems than the weight issue alone.
. Diets sometimes backfire. When a person loses weight through a diet plan, they frequently regress back to the habits that created the weight problem in the first place after a certain period of time or if a predetermined weight is obtained. Using a diet as a fix-all for poor eating habits doesn’t get to the root of the problem.
. A diet may not even be necessary. Depending on the child’s age, weight and physical activity, they may just grow into those extra pounds as they mature. There is such a thing as baby fat, and it doesn’t generally require a diet to lose this excess weight.
. Weight loss through many diets is mostly water weight, and won’t shed the fat which is the real health risk of being overweight. Burning fat requires exercise, and dieting alone may distract your child from the need to stay active. You should not rely on a diet alone to get the job done.
. When a diet does help someone lose some weight, it can send the wrong message. You don’t want to send the message that a poor diet and sedentary lifestyle can be offset with a quick-fix diet plan. The subliminal message is: it’s OK to eat what I want and not keep active, because I can always go on a diet.
. Diets are a temporary fix to a long-term problem. As such, they can feed into the psychology of finding quick fixes for everything. Dieting might eventually be replaced by smoking to suppress one’s appetite, for instance, or elective surgery such as liposuction to shed the weight.
. A child can have a larger frame and just naturally weigh more than the average child his age. It doesn’t necessarily indicate a need to diet, it may be quite normal. It’s best to have a doctor examine a child’s BMI (body mass index) before taking any drastic measures.
. If you do plan to put your child on a diet, you should consult a dietician first. A dietician will be able to prescribe a dietary regimen that will still provide the child with all of the necessary nutrients he needs while accomplishing whatever weight reduction he and your child’s doctor deem necessary.
Children should only be put on a diet plan under the direction and supervision of their doctor. Children should have access to a variety of high-quality foods, and sugary treats, drinks and snacks should be limited. Parents should strive to present healthy and nutritious meals and snacks each day and aim for creating healthy lifestyles for their children.
Source: Find a Babysitter