Weight Management for Kids

The percentage of overweight children in the United States is growing at an alarming rate – one out of three kids are now considered obese or overweight. Figuring out if a teen is overweight can be more complicated than it is for adults. That’s because teens are still growing and developing.

Doctors and other health care professionals often use a measurement called body mass index (BMI) to determine if someone is overweight. After calculating BMI, a doctor will plot the result on a BMI growth chart. A BMI at or above the “95th percentile” line on the chart is considered in the obese range. A BMI number that is equal to or greater than the 85th percentile line but less than the 95th is considered overweight.

Obesity has been linked to high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, arthritis, asthma and emotional problems. Preventing kids from becoming overweight means adapting the way your family eats and exercises, and how you spend time together. Helping kids learn healthy lifestyles begins with parents who lead by example.



Increased exercise may be the most effective way to help a child slim down. From the day a child is born, make the child’s environment an active one. Set a good example. Exercise with your child.

Your goal should be 60 minutes of physical activity five or more days of the week. Contact your local community center, YMCA or Parks and Recreation Department for fitness ideas. Try to find activities your child will enjoy to ensure success, like hiking, biking, or sports like basketball, karate or soccer.

Individual sports, like swimming, may be better than team-oriented sports for some kids. Consider investing in exercise equipment like a treadmill or a NintendoWii Fit® or Xbox Kinnect® or think about enrolling your child in dance or karate classes. Group classes and team sports offer even more opportunities to exercise.

Research conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows the incidence of obesity was highest among children who watched a large amount of TV a day, and lowest among children watching an hour or less per day.

And consider this fact: According to an article in the Journal of the American Medical Association, other than sleeping, kids today spend more time in front of the computer and television screens than any other daily activity. Make sure your child spends no more than two hours a day on “screen time,” e.g., TV, video games, the computer, etc.


Obese kids may have negative feelings about themselves, causing a distorted concept of their appearance or how others perceive them. They turn to food as a way to cope with traumatic experiences, failure and disappointment.

Acceptance of your child no matter what his weight – along with praise – helps build self-esteem. Love your child as she is; being thin doesn’t guarantee happiness.

Ongoing encouragement and reinforcement for success are very important to an overweight child. Professional counseling also can help children feel better about themselves.


Akron Children’s Hospital’s offers a variety of fitness programs for children including Kohl’s Community Youth Fitness and Kid’s Future Fitness Clubs. For more information, call 330-543-8260. 

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