November 2023

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Health Capsule

Helping a Child Who Is Overweight

Children naturally gain weight as they grow and develop. Some kids may gain extra pounds, but lose them as they develop and grow taller. For others, gaining too much weight may lead to obesity. Children with obesity are more likely to have obesity as adults. Over time, excess weight may lead to health problems like heart disease, joint pain, or type 2 diabetes.

Genes and family history can affect a child’s weight. Other factors include getting too little physical activity or having too many high-calorie foods and drinks. Not getting enough sleep and too much screen time may also contribute to excess weight.

Adopting healthy lifestyle habits can help your child reach and stay at a healthy weight. Help them learn healthy habits by being a good role model. Encourage your family to do the same. Replace processed foods with fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Instead of sugary drinks, serve water or low-fat milk. Encourage fun activities like running, biking, dog-walking, or dancing. Keep bedrooms and mealtimes screen-free. Listen to your child’s concerns and reward your child’s healthy choices with praise and love.

If you’re concerned about your child’s weight, talk with a health care professional. Some kids who are overweight don’t need to lose weight. They may just need to gain weight more slowly as they grow taller. Learn more about children and weight gain.