Getting Help for Obese Children

Very often the treatment for children who are obese lies in changing habits and learned behaviors. Of course, the sooner in life that these changes are made, the faster the results can occur. Some of these steps towards a healthier life are immediate, while others are a lifetime commitment. You, as a parent, may not be able to go it alone. Let’s look at what you can do for your child and what other support you may need on this road to recovery.

How Can I Help My Child if They are Obese?

With any program to get your body healthy, there are things that you, and the people around you, need to do to make the program a success. Here is a short list of the steps you need to take to help your child:

Give love and support to your child no matter what their weight.

First of all, tell your child that you love him or her. A support system is the one thing that will get them through this painful process. They will be dealing with lots of feelings about being overweight. It’s not as easy as “oh, gee, I’m overweight.” A child’s feelings about being obese go much deeper, sometimes affecting how they feel about themselves as a person. They need you to reaffirm that they have worth, at any weight.

No matter what, always protect their dignity.

Involve your child’s doctor in treatment for obesity.

Some parents shy away from the doctor because they fear a long harsh speech about ruining their child’s life. Doctors take an oath to “do no harm” and that includes mental harm. Your child’s doctor will most likely be relieved when they see you are ready to dig in and get some real help for your child. The blame game is not in their patient’s best interest.

Tell your doctor all your concerns for your child. If you don’t know how to prepare healthy meals or if you don’t know how to help your child to live a healthier life, start with those simple questions. The doctor will examine your child and determine a course of action. Tests run by your child’s doctor will alert you to any developing problems as a result of the obesity. Suggestions will be made on how to lower those risk factors. If there are immediate concerns, for example diabetes, your doctor will be able to address those problems quickly. In other words, do see your child’s doctor immediately as he or she is on your side.

Talk to a nutritionist and obtain a plan for healthy eating.

You’ll want to start out with a list of healthy foods and suggestions on how to introduce these foods to your child. A child who has developed a love for sugary foods may find it difficult at first to get “unhooked.” A nutritionist knows the strategies for introducing foods that mimic sugary foods in the body without adding calories. Their advice will help you when it comes time to stock your pantry with healthy food choices. A nutritionist is also trained to find quality, healthy food that fits every budget, no matter how limited. Even families on very low incomes can eat in a healthy way; it just may take a little extra planning.

Find a fitness program that is age-appropriate.

If you have the money, hire a personal trainer, even if only to get a program started. It may only take a few sessions with a professional fitness guide to help your child find an activity they like to do and to teach your child how to exercise properly. You can also sign your child up for kid’s fitness classes at the local YMCA or community center. Along with others their own age and ability, they can jump, skip, hop and dance to gain better physical fitness. When spending money is out of the question, create an exercise program at home that is fun for the whole family. Go outside and take a walk every day. Get out the bikes and dust them off. Dig out that jump rope, basketball, or anything that’s been sitting in the garage collecting dust. If inside exercise fits into your schedule better, there are many free Internet sites that show specific exercises to do as well as numerous exercise programs on television. Another cheap alternative is to visit your local thrift shop. People get tired of their exercise videos and pack them up to ship off to thrift shops all the time. Your local library may also have exercise videos to borrow.

Medications may be indicated for obese children.

I put this last as usually medications are only prescribed to teenagers and even then there has to be a good indication for it. Those reasons may include management of serious health problems as a result of obesity: high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and pre-diabetes. With a change in eating and exercise, your child may not have to take the medicines for long. However, these serious conditions may indicate your child needs help immediately, in addition to longterm health and fitness programs. The initial visit with your child’s doctor will answer many of these questions about medications.

Follow the doctor’s instructions.

You are in charge of helping your child find his or her way back to a healthy weight, and life. Use these resources to make it happen. This may not be the easiest thing you’ve every done for your child, but it will be one of the most rewarding.

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