7 Ways you can help your child lose weight

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The key to weight loss is to get them up and moving. The more they move, the more calories they burn.

Childhood is obesity is a growing problem in the 21st century, a condition that is exacerbated by the proliferation of fast and processed foods, which our fast-paced life demands. As a result, children as early as two years old are getting addicted to junk food, and in the process gain unhealthy and unnecessary weight.

In her Today article, Jennifer Trachtenberg MD offers seven ways to help your children lose that weight and live healthier lives.

1. Set realistic goals for your child

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According to Jennifer, for overweight and obese children, losing one pound a week is a good place to start. The more attainable the goal is, the more likely you are to achieve it. Realistic goals will also make it easier for you children to adjust to these dietary modifications in the long run.

2. Encourage exercise

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The key to weight loss is to get them up and moving. The more they move, the more calories they burn. “Walking, jogging, bike riding and Rollerblading are all great ways to burn calories,” says Jennifer.

Little things count, too, such as opting for the stairs instead of the elevators, or walking to the local store instead of driving there.

3. Choose healthy and nutritious foods

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“Encourage your child to eat three small meals and two small snacks each day so she doesn't go for long periods feeling hungry, which can ultimately lead to binging,” Jennifer says.

Also make sure that your children are eating a lot of fruits and vegetables, and drinking a lot of water. Instead of fruit juices, let them eat the real fruit. And as much as possible, give them low-fat snacks like popcorn or pretzels rather than potato chips.

4. Change your family's eating habits

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If the whole family is doing something together, children are more likely to follow suit. Jennifer encourages parents to let their children eat only when they’re hungry, and to serve meals only in the kitchen or dining room without any other distractions like the television.

5. Try behavior modification techniques

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“A reward system may help motivate your child to stay on her diet,” says Jennifer. “For example, if your child drinks water instead of soda for a week, reward her with a favorite activity or small toy.” The key to this method is never rewarding them with food.

6. Follow-up with your pediatrician

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“Take your child to the doctor every two weeks for a weight check and blood tests too, if necessary. Avoid daily weigh-ins at home since small fluctuations in weight can cause a child added stress.”

7. Be supportive

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Like every endeavor, your child’s weight loss journey will be more bearable if people are being supportive of his efforts and helping him achieve his goals.

“It is important for your whole family to change its way of eating to help your child,” Jennifer advises. “Make sure that you don't keep a lot of junk foods in the house. Keep cut up carrot sticks and celery as well as fruit on hand. Make healthy low-fat meals for everyone in your home. And most of all, be supportive of your child and provide a lot of encouragement.”

READ: 7 Unhealthy foods you think are healthy

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