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Five Quick and Easy Weight Loss Steps

Childhood Obesity

By

Updated December 15, 2007

We have been hearing about the obesity epidemic for some time now. Unfortunately, even with all of the attention the topic is getting, a report from The Trust for America's Heath shows that obesity rates are rising even higher.

This shouldn't be too surprising, after all, for most people:

  • it is easy and fun to overeat
  • unhealthy foods and snacks taste good
  • it usually isn't much fun to exercise
These are things that you must change, whether or not your kids are already overweight, unless you want them to become overweight adults. You don't have to make drastic, all at once diet and lifestyle changes though, which most people can't keep up with. On the other hand, if you don't do anything today, there is a good chance that nothing is going to change and your overweight kids will continue to become more overweight.

So start with small changes, which is usually okay as long as you stick with them and continue to steadily build to a healthy diet and active lifestyle.

These five quick and easy weight loss steps are things that you can do right now to lead your kids, and your family, to a healthier way of living.

1) Cut back on some calories.

In general, one pound of body weight is equal to 3500 calories. So if you get an extra 150 calories a day, you will gain about an extra pound in just three weeks! That's just a few cookies a day or maybe an extra dinner roll and helps illustrate how little things can lead to a weight problem.

Although you likely don't need to put your child on a strict diet (or at least you shouldn't without the supervision of your Pediatrician and/or a registered dietician), it should be very easy to trim just 100 or 200 extra calories from your older child's diet.

2) Eat less fast food.

Although most fast food restaurants now offer healthy menu choices, most kids opt for high fat and high calorie fast food meals. Although you could search for healthier fast food, like a baked potato, salad, or low fat sandwich, etc., you are usually better off providing your kids with a healthier meal at home.

3) Drink fewer calories.

With fruit drinks, fruit juice, soda, and sport's drinks, most kids drink way too many calories. Often, these drinks can be the difference between kids being overweight or at a healthy weight and getting rid of them is a very easy way to eliminate extra calories from your child's diet.

Although it is usually considered okay to allow children between the ages of 1 and 6 years to have 4 to 6 ounces and older children to have 8 to 12 ounces of 100 percent fruit juice each day, if they are already overweight, even that may be too much. Better alternatives might be low fat milk (as long as they are over two years old) and water, and even limiting sport's drinks to when your child is involved in vigorous physical activity.

Diet drinks can play a role here too, although many parents worry about offering them to children. In this case, you have to consider the unproven risks of artificial sweeteners with the known health problems that are associated with being overweight.

4) Get more active.

Kids don't usually find traditional exercise fun. For them, it is more important to simply get them active doing things that they do enjoy. This might include a new team sport, such as baseball or volleyball, an individual sport if they don't like the idea of being a part of a large team, or just unorganized play in the neighborhood riding a bike, skateboarding, or just playing outside.

5) Shop smarter.

Although you may not have complete control over everything your kids eat once they leave home, what you buy at the grocery store can help you control what they do eat at home. That doesn't mean that they will eat all of their veggies just because you buy them, but they can't drink soda or eat high fat potato chips if you don't buy them.

First Steps

Remember that the goal here is to start small so that you actually get started. Just choose one or two items from each step every few days or each week and then watch how quickly it adds up and you see results.

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