Treating childhood obesity successfully is primarily accomplished through physical activity, diet and behavioral changes. The goal of this treatment is not necessarily direct weight reduction but rather slowing down weight gain during overall childhood development until an ideal weight is achieved. Multiple studies have demonstrated that employing merely one of these three methods is insufficient by itself while the strategic use of all three is most effective in sustained weight loss and health.
Helpful physical activity can take the form of a formal exercise regimen or simply participation in sports. Either serves as useful treatment for obese children because the activity burns fat through the increased expenditure of energy. Interestingly, a parent may not even notice a significant external change in the child’s body weight or appearance after only a month of daily activity because the daily change is so gradual.
That, however, should not become a source of concern as the consistent results of the trimming down process will certainly take place over time. Internally, though, a medical examination of the blood lipid profile (fat cells floating in the blood) and blood pressure before and after a child’s initiation of an exercise program will make more obvious the benefits of physical exertion.
Concerning diet modification for obese children, successful results beyond the short term are not actually achieved through dieting or fasting. Instead, a lifestyle change in eating patterns is required. One approach to shifting your children’s eating habits is to replace high fat, high sugar, and generally high caloric content with more nutritious – and tasty – alternatives.
Provide complex carbohydrates such as rice, bread, pasta, and cereal rather than simple sugars found in candies, cakes and other addictive sweets. And offer enough balanced proportions and portions of each type of food to satisfy hunger cravings.
Additionally, reduce the actual number of meals and snacks your children eat on a daily basis. Three balanced meals in a day are sufficient, and snacks in between – though not necessary – can serve as healthy, though limited, supplements.
Train your children to eat only when hungry rather than out of habit when they are bored or simply inactive. During a main meal, allow a few minutes to pass before offering your child a second serving to help him or her determine whether there is truly a further need to satisfy hunger.
Finally, behavioral changes in the treatment of obese children requires parental involvement. This conclusion is routinely supported by research, emphasizing that father and mother participating in some of the child’s activities is critical for the realization of weight reduction and formation of healthy lifestyle habits.
Rather than committing your most precious family time mesmerized in front of the TV, parents can daily engage their children in fun activities that get each person’s muscles moving. Everyone benefits, and the richness developed in family relationships and interactions doesn’t hurt as a side bonus. Variety, enjoyment, and parents serving as role models for their children are all keys to success.