I have an 11 year old daughter who needs to lose 10-15
pounds. She is physically fit and plays basketball 3 times per
week. However, she has quite a tummy. Any suggestions?
Although many children grow out of their over fatness later
as they reach adolescence, being over fat as a child is thought
to increase the likelihood of obesity later in life. Generally
a weight loss program is not recommended unless children exceed
the 95th percentile in BMI for their age. See evaluation
of childhood obesity.
work on practicing healthy habits she will be likely to continue
for her lifetime. Set a limit on the amount of time she can watch
television, play video games, or get on the computer. One of
the most effective ways is exchange screen time for outdoor play
time or other physical activity. Continue to encourage opportunities
for daily physical activity and play. Generally at least one
hour of physical activity each day is recommended for youth but
more is optimal. Provide pleanty time for your child to play,
preferably with their friends since children are more likely
engage in intense physical activity when they are with peers.
Help your child find activities or sports they might enjoy
and can participate in on a regular basis. Suggest and incourage
her to try and choose new activities. Be willing to provide transportation
to these activities if necessary. Provide your child with the
appropriate attire appropriate to the weather and activity. Do
not impose your hang ups about inclement weather to your child.
Be flexible and creative. Kids will usually keep active if given
the opportunity to participate in fun activities. Offer praise,
interest, and encouragement. You must lead by example. Perhaps
invite her walk or ride her bike while you are exercising, but
make it fun for her so she will want to continue. Attend and
get involved with school activities and community programs that
foster the development of physical fitness, self esteem, and
health. Find other activities the family can participate in regularly.
Interestingly, one longitudinal study find physical activity
as child does not directly relate to body mass achieved as an
adult (Sherar, et al. 2004). This may suggest learning healthy
eating habits and incorporation an active lifestyle early in
life may have a larger impact on her body mass as she grows into
adulthood. Again, lead by example.
Follow the dietary
guidelines with including healthy snacks. Prepare healthy
meals and snacks the whole family can enjoy. Ask your husband
and even your extended family for support. A balanced diet with
plenty of variety is very important. Try new recipes and new
ways of cooking food. Have her participate in helping you select
menus, shopping, and preparing the food. Give her choices but
within the appropriate guidelines. Consider allowing your daughter
to choose or plan a meal each week or month, choosing her favorite
fruits, vegetables, main dishes, etc. From a colorful cookbook,
ask her to select a recipe she can help prepare. Maybe you would
like to plant a garden together? Again make it a fun experience
for her yet be firm in setting limits.
Do not force her to finish her plate but also do not allow
her to eat just an hour later because she did not choose to eat
enough when it was offered to her. Do not get discouraged if
she protests or says she does not like this or that. Periodically
try to reintroduce foods even though she said she hated them
6 months ago. Kids often will change their mind about foods if
they are periodically reintroduced in different ways. Serve the
healthy foods early in the meal when they are hungriest. Do not
reintroduce the food too often, though, since they will develop
the mind set they hate this food. Kids will definitely hate foods
that are forced upon them.
Be very mindful of the negative health impact of refined foods
and chronic sugar consumption (see Sugar: The
Bitter Truth). Only permit sweets on rare occasion. Offer
alternatives to sweets and other refined snack foods: fruit or
nuts instead of cookies, whole wheat crackers and cheese instead
of chips, milk or other nutritious drinks instead of sweetened
beverages, etc. Do not use junk food as a reward or to comfort
This will obviously require a lot of planning and preparation.
Don't give up on her and give into the belly aching and tantrums
kids can sometimes continue to have at this age. Remember you
are the parent. You will be very likely influencing generations