Childhood Obesity Treatment
Childhood obesity treatment starts with good lifestyle choices. That means adopting healthy eating and exercise habits.
Those types of lifestyle choices are likely to be the first recommendations your pediatrician makes if he diagnoses your child or adolescent with childhood obesity. That diagnosis is given to a child who has a Body Mass Index, or BMI, in the 95th percentile or greater for all children of the same gender and age. Overweight children are defined as having a BMI in the 85th percentile or greater for all children of the same gender and age. Your pediatrician may also give your child a physical examination and other tests to rule out an underlying medical condition as the cause of your child's condition.
If it's determined that your child's obesity is the result of bad diet or lack of exercise, they will likely recommend the following:
- If your child is age 7 or younger, weight maintenance rather than weight loss should be the goal. That way, your child can "grow into" an appropriate weight as he or she gets taller.
- For children age 7 or older and younger children with serious weight-related health issues, weight loss of one pound a week or one pound a month may be recommended, depending on your child's overall health.
These weight management recommendations can generally be achieved in part by eating three balanced meals a day, whenever possible. In addition, children need to keep snacks to a minimum, eat healthy snacks and avoid fast foods, processed foods, and sugary drinks. Besides serving healthy meals, you may also want to consider, with your doctor's approval, nutrients and supplements as part of your overall childhood obesity treatment plan.
In addition to proper eating, exercise and physical activity is equally important for treating and preventing childhood obesity. Start out slowly and give your child plenty of activity choices, such as family outings, sports teams, and imaginative play. Not only is exercise essential for treatment of childhood obesity, it is also necessary for maintaining a healthy weight in children and in adults.
The last resort considered by pediatricians may be medication or weight loss surgery. These childhood obesity treatments are often only considered under the most serious circumstances when a child's health is truly comprised because of obesity and exercise and healthy eating are unrealistic or too slow acting. Researchers have found that medication for children and adolescents may be highly risky. They warn that medication isn't a substitute for a healthy diet and exercise. Additionally, weight loss surgery for obese children may be effective, but it is still very rare.
So, if you're concerned about childhood obesity in your children, don't hesitate to see your pediatrician right away and get on the road to a happier, healthier life for your child and your entire family.