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Helping Your Overweight Child

Helping Your Overweight Child

Statistics Canada reported in 2004 that 26% of Canadian kids aged 2-17 were overweight or obese.[1]

Between 1978 and 2004 the overweight/obesity rate of adolescents aged 12 to 17 more than doubled from 14% to 29%, while their obesity rate alone tripled from 3% to 9%!1 


You can have a heartwarming meal for the entire family in under 30 minutes – just visit our Kitchen to find a treasure trove of recipes that fit the bill.

Since overweight children can become overweight adults and struggle with many medical conditions it is important for all families to think about healthy eating and physical activity right from their earliest ages.

Diets are not recommended for children since they require adequate nutrients for growth and development. It is far better to think about ways you can embrace a healthy lifestyle for life as a family.

If you’re dealing with an overweight child in the family, here are some strategies and tips that can help get him or her on the right track.

Take the Focus Off Weight

It is important to focus on healthy eating and keeping active and avoid using terms such as obesity, overweight, or weight loss. Weight is a very delicate subject for growing youth who are still developing self esteem and comfort with their ever changing body.

Build a Foundation at the Family Meal

Studies show that if your family eats together often, your children are less likely to be overweight and to develop unhealthy weight control practices or even eating disorders.2 Studies also show that families that eat together have healthier diets.3 Need some ideas on healthy meal planning? Check out our article “Speedy Shopping & Planning Tips.”

10 Healthy Snack Attacks

Keep the cupboards and fridge stocked with ready-to-eat healthy foods such as:

  • Flavoured tuna and whole grain crackers
  • Grapes with cheese cubes
  • Parfaits with yogurt and berries
  • Whole grain crackers with hummus
  • Hard cooked egg and whole grain crackers
  • Raw veggies and dip
  • Smoothie with fruit, yogurt, and milk
  • Glass of milk and a banana
  • Unsweetened canned peaches and cottage cheese
  • Small bowl of a snack mix with popcorn, dried fruit and nuts

Get Them Moving!

Research studies show that more than half of Canadian children and youth are not active enough for optimal growth and development.4 Canadian girls are less active than boys with only 38 per cent of girls and 48 per cent of boys considered active enough.Many kids need to get more physical activity such as walking, playing, participating in sports and other recreational activities. For more information visit our article Fitness – Get Activated, or download Canada’s Physical Activity Guide for children and youth (Click here if Adobe® Reader® is required).

Crunch Down on the Computer

It’s important to limit how much time your child spends watching TV or on the computer as these are very sedentary activities that can contribute to heavier weights. Try setting an hourly time limit per day that your child can watch TV or play sedentary games.

Lead by Example!

The most important way to help your child is to lead by example. Ensure you “walk the talk” and make healthy choices, buy appropriate foods, and keep active. Work together as a family force. This will be more successful and ensure that a child that is struggling with extra weight doesn’t feel singled out.

Statistics Canada. Canadian Community Health Survey: Obesity among children and adults. 2004.
Obesity 2005;13:900-906. Family Dinner and Adolescent Overweight. Taveras et al. 
J Am Diet Assoc. 2003 Mar;103(3):317-22. Neumark-Sztainer D,Hannan PJStory MCroll JPerry C. Family meal patterns: associations with sociodemographic characteristics and improved dietary intake among adolescents. 
4 Canada’s Physical Activity Guide for Children & Youth. (