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How to Help Your Obese Child Lose Weight

Updated on October 21, 2013

Helping Your Obese Child Lose Weight

According to, one of every three kids in the U.S. is now overweight or obese. That translates to sixteen to thirty-three percent of the population of children and adolescents in America. A lot, in other words.

On top of the physical health risks posed by their condition, obese children can suffer terrible teasing and bullying, which in turn is harmful to them emotionally. It’s hard for mom and dad to know that their kids are hurting, whether it’s inside or out. Unfortunately, for many it is equally difficult to know how to best help their child.

The first piece of advice is take your overweight child to your family physician. Ruling out physical causes, such as thyroid problems, should be addressed and having the child checked out before starting them on a new regime is always a good idea.

Does Your Child Need Help With His Weight?

16-33% of American kids and teens are obese
16-33% of American kids and teens are obese

When Does Overweight Become Obese?

While no great amount of extra weight is good, how much does a child have to weigh before falling under the technical definition of obese? The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP) states that generally speaking, “a child is not considered obese until their weight is at least ten percent higher than what is recommended for the height and body type.”

That may be a relief for some but if you notice that your youngster is getting steadily heavier, it bears some attention.

Since the onset of obesity typically begins either around five or six years of age or during adolescence, it's best not to let it go on for any longer than necessary. The reason is not just about immediate health concerns. AACAP says that studies have shown that there is an eighty percent chance of a child who is obese between the ages of ten and thirteen to grow up to be an obese adult. Parents need to take action as soon as possible, yet in a safe way.

ABC Report on Childhood Obesity

Causes of Childhood Obesity

Most people know the answer. With other health issues ruled out, poor diet and low physical activity are usually to blame, though emotional issues are sometimes culprits and help from a professional should be sought immediately if that's what you suspect.

The good news in all of this is that diet and lack of activity are lifestyle habits and choices that can be changed, with a parent's help.

Causes of Obesity According to AACAP

The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry lists the following potential causes of obesity in children:

  • poor eating habits
  • overeating or binging
  • lack of exercise (i.e., couch potato kids)
  • family history of obesity
  • medical illnesses (endocrine, neurological problems)
  • medications (steroids, some psychiatric medications)
  • stressful life events or changes (separations, divorce, moves, deaths, abuse)
  • family and peer problems
  • low self-esteem
  • depression or other emotional problems

How to Help Your Obese Child Lose Weight

As mentioned above, always have your overweight or obese child checked out by a doctor. If the cause of their weight gain is from medication or an underlying medical condition, it needs to be tended to. An existing issue may be the root of the problem.

While you're there, talk to your primary care physician about a safe method of weight loss, as well as realistic goals. Children should lose less weight per month than an adult, typically one to four pounds. Avoid drastic diets and do what you can not to focus too much on the whole weight issue, especially with teens. Too much emphasis on dieting and weight can lead to eating disorders, which can become very serious.

If you've taken care of all that and everything else is fine then it's time for a course of action. As the parent, you're going to have to intervene and lead your child to a healthier life.

Diet Tips

These are just common sense tips but they work. It goes without saying that meals and snacks are portion controlled and consist of fresh fruits, vegetables and things that are baked rather fried.

  1. Make sure that meals and snacks are healthy and served at regular times every day.
  2. Offer a variety of fresh, healthy foods to avoid your child becoming bored. If you can make it fun or let them help prepare the food, so much the better.
  3. Consult a nutritionist for healthy, balanced meal plans.
  4. Do not use food to bribe or reward your child.
  5. Eat meals together as a family. Set a good example of eating healthy and use the time to bond with your child. Teach your child to relax and eat slowly. Naturally, you're sitting at the table and not in front of the TV or computer. In fact, they aren't even on.
  6. Make yours a 'No junk food' home. Keep healthy snacks on hand, such as carrots, celery sticks, granola bars or rice cakes. There are lots of different choices these days, so mix things up to stave off boredom.
  7. If necessary, consider getting your child extra support via a group such as Overeaters Anonymous.
  8. Forget directions to the fast food place because it does not belong in a weight loss program.

Activity should be fun whenever possible
Activity should be fun whenever possible

Activity Tips

To help drop the pounds, an obese child needs to include more physical activity in his or her day. Don't push too hard at first. Start them off with something mild and fun and gradually increase the amount of activity.

  1. Get the whole family involved. It doesn't matter whether it's bike riding, hiking, skating, or doing yard work as long you are together and active. Not only does this draw you closer but it also sets a shining example of getting fit. Besides, it's fun.
  2. If you can afford it, enroll your child in classes, such as dance, swimming, gymnastics or martial arts. Often times, you can find organizations in your town that offer low or no cost activities like these for children. Your local YMCA is probably a good place to start.
  3. Limit television and computer time. These turn lively kids into couch potatoes. Ideally, a child spends no more than an hour or two a day total sitting in front of them.
  4. Encourage playtime. Chase them around the yard in a game of tag, give them a new skipping rope or throw a ball around. Again, it'll just seem like fun and feel less like a weight loss program.
  5. Go for a walk every evening.

Additional Resources

For more help visit The Obesity Society

The Obesity Society also offers a variety of educational and informative links on their American Obesity Association page of websites.


Focus Adolescent Services offers information, resources and support links for teens and families.

__________________________ has various articles on eating disorders, along with advice on how to handle them if you're a friend or parent.

Celebrate Success!

Your obese child has probably felt self-conscious for awhile. When he or she has lost some weight, use it as an excuse to celebrate and help them feel good about what they're accomplishing. No, I'm not suggesting cake or some other calorie-laden food.

When the child has dropped a size, why not buy them a new piece of clothing to reflect the fact that they're starting to slim down. Perhaps something they've expressed a wish for that they couldn't fit into before. This is especially important to teens, who are image conscious to the extreme. They'll have proof that their diet regime is working and they'll feel better about themselves.

If things are tight financially, you don't have to spend any money to compliment and congratulate your son or daughter. A little positive reinforcement can go a long way towards giving your obese child the motivation they need to continue losing weight. This is a hard thing they're doing. Let them know you're proud of them.


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    • mariasial profile image

      maria sial 

      7 years ago from united kingdom

      My niece medical report says she is over weight and over height. The doctor gave her diet plan. She end up eating every thing in the diet plan as well as all extra she use to eat :( anyways your tips are good

    • profile image

      Your Ideal Target Weight 

      8 years ago

      Excellent site! Found the information quite compelling and very informative in regards to children with overweight concerns!

    • Shirley Anderson profile imageAUTHOR

      Shirley Anderson 

      9 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Fucsia, I think you're right about parents setting a good example for their kids, it helps a lot, although it doesn't guarantee of course, that the child will not develop a weight problem. There are many potential causes, unfortunately. Thank-you for your helpful comment, I appreciate it.

      Dr. Carlotta, thank-you, you're making me blush!

      Online Weight Loss, you got marked as spam. Yes, between video games, computers and everything being planned and organized, kids just don't go out and play much anymore. Too bad, it's a lot of fun and helps keep their weight down. Thanks for your comment.

    • profile image

      Online Weight Loss 

      9 years ago

      It's sad to see so many big kids these days. I think it's because kids don't go out and play as much as they used to. Now we have organized sports and tryouts and such. Total BS

    • drpastorcarlotta profile image

      Pastor Dr Carlotta Boles 

      9 years ago from BREAKOUT MINISTRIES, INC. KC

      Wonderful, wonderful written HUB!!!!! Great Job and your tips are great ones! I am book marking this Hub! Thank you! When you get a chance, come visit me! Be Blessed!

    • fucsia profile image


      9 years ago

      Unfortunately, the children of obese or overweight have very high probability of becoming obese ,for genetic and family causes. i think that a good example is the most important thing to help our children to be obese.

      It is much important sensibilize the parents to this very important problem.thanks for your hub.

    • Shirley Anderson profile imageAUTHOR

      Shirley Anderson 

      9 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      It would be a great topic for you to write about, THS. As far as I can tell, people are pretty passionate about childhood obesity.

      I'd be happy to drop by 'your place' sometime! Thank-you for visiting mine. :)

    • Top Health Spot profile image

      Top Health Spot 

      9 years ago

      Shirley, Thanks so much for doing such a good job on this Hub. I often blog about health, diet and exercise on, but have really not toched upon this subject. Maybe it's time I do. It's impossible to look around these days and not see obese children and their obese parents all around us. I hope you take a look at some of my post as well. I will visit often.

    • Shirley Anderson profile imageAUTHOR

      Shirley Anderson 

      9 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      I agree with you RG. Everything travels at the speed of light these days. All of the technology that was supposed to give us more time has actually tied us up more. Ahh, the days of Mayberry RFD seem so tranquil and beckoning lately. :)

      Thanks for the comment, RG.

    • RGraf profile image

      Rebecca Graf 

      9 years ago from Wisconsin

      This is wonderful and so needed. We have become a society that is too busy to eat right and have fun. We need to get back to that and enjoy life and be healthy.

    • Shirley Anderson profile imageAUTHOR

      Shirley Anderson 

      9 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      You're right Chris, it is a problem. I'm not sure that we can blame McDonalds, though. Somebody had to take the kids there in the first place. I thought that I heard they now serve salads and the like but I can't swear to that. Thanks for commenting!

      Hi, Tingy. I've not heard of pu er tea, sounds bitter, is it? A natural source for balancing metabolism has to be a good thing. Thanks for the tip!

      Advisor, don't feel bad. I think a lot of moms and grandmas do that. I grew up in a diner owned by my grandparents. My grandma taught me to eat toast and ketchup, chocolate sauce with a spoon, etc. All the meat I ate was cooked on a fry grill, too. Thankfully, I have skinny genes. Even with all that diner food, I've always had trouble gaining weight.

      By the way, I had to chuckle at your comment about no one teaching you how to get the kids to stop eating, that's funny.

      Thanks for coming by to read and comment.

    • advisor4qb profile image


      9 years ago from On New Footing

      My grandmother always stuffed me full of food when I came over, and that made me feel very loved. So, I always stuff my kids as much as they will let me. My oldest one used to be very skinny, until he became addicted to video games. Now I stopped him from playing so much, but he still eats everything that isn't tied down. I am hopeful that he will be having a growth spurt or one ever taught me how to STOP them from eating (lol), thanks!

    • tingyi2521 profile image


      9 years ago

      i know a good way to help obese children.everytime he wants to eat , give him a cup of pu er tea instead. tea can promote our metabolism

    • cbris52 profile image


      9 years ago

      Childhood Obesity is definitely a problem. Thank You McDonalds!

    • Shirley Anderson profile imageAUTHOR

      Shirley Anderson 

      9 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Sorry Jill, I thought that I had responded to your comment! Age may be getting the better of me.

      I'm happy to hear that your children have not had to deal with obesity, it's so hard on them.

      Thank-you for coming by and for forwarding. I hope it helps your friend and the child.

    • jill of alltrades profile image

      jill of alltrades 

      9 years ago from Philippines

      Childhood obesity has really become a major problem lately. I am happy that my children don't have this problem. However, I have a friend whose child is obese. I will send her a link to this hub.

      Thank you for sharing!

    • Shirley Anderson profile imageAUTHOR

      Shirley Anderson 

      9 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Hi, Calicoaster. Yes, you're right about the obesity problem. I think that it's more prevalent now than it ever has been. Thanks for your comment.

      Thanks, HP! I agree with you whole-heartedly. Thank-you for coming by to read and comment.

    • H P Roychoudhury profile image

      H P Roychoudhury 

      9 years ago from Guwahati, India

      A very nice hub. A good mother should take care of her child right from begining. Thanks for sharing.

    • calicoaster profile image


      9 years ago

      Great and extremely helpful hub. Child obesity is really a big problem these days, with the increase in junk food, sedentary lifestyle and absence of any routine related to physical activities. Thanks for sharing the info!

    • Shirley Anderson profile imageAUTHOR

      Shirley Anderson 

      9 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Thank-you, Aaron! I'm glad that you were able to come by.

      That sounds like good advice, Tingyi. You are probably helping your kids avoid obesity. Hope they like green tea more than I do. :) Thanks for your comment.

    • tingyi2521 profile image


      9 years ago

      i got a lot of imfo, thank you hubs.

      i told my children not to eat too much, sometimes drink some herbal teas, such as green tea,etc

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      A very helpful hub, Shirley. Thanks for your fan mail and being my fan. Keep writing more hubs. Enjoy.

    • Shirley Anderson profile imageAUTHOR

      Shirley Anderson 

      9 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      You make a very convincing argument, Jewels! I will keep repeating it.

      Thanks for double dipping the thumbs up button. :) Don't know if it works twice but I appreciate it, regardless.

    • Jewels profile image


      9 years ago from Australia

      It is sad and we have to change lifestyles so that diets change too. Keep saying it, eventually people will do it. Staying quiet just lets it go on as is and that helps no-one. I've dramatically changed my own diet and eat very little processed food. I avoid supermarkets as much as I can and support farmers markets. And I talk about it. I don't care if I annoy people by doing it. I really believe we need to address it and not wait until someone in authority does, they probably won't and we'll have a greater problem.

      So lets keep repeating it Shirley. I'm happy to. Thumbs up again. (Can I do that?) :)

    • Shirley Anderson profile imageAUTHOR

      Shirley Anderson 

      9 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Hi, Earnest! I guess childhood obesity plagues most continents, these days. It's so sad to see. Kids are taught to eat that way, so naturally they carry it into adulthood. Thanks so much for coming by and commenting.

      Thanks, Jewels. I don't know if repeating it would help, Jewels. Ingrained habits are pretty hard to break and most people fall off their diets fast. From what I understand it's not just about food, it involves lifestyle and other factors, too. I understand what you're saying about the child abuse. Again, I have to say that I think the whole situation is just plain sad.

    • Jewels profile image


      9 years ago from Australia

      Great hub Shirley. These words need to be repeated over and over again to turn around a few generations' bad eating habits. The parents need to look at their own diets and change back to fundamental healthy unprocessed foods and be an example to the kids. It does border child abuse which is a harsh thing to say, but is true even if the parents are not aware of it.

    • earnestshub profile image


      9 years ago from Melbourne Australia

      I used to think this was a problem in other countries, but here in Australia the same problem has crept in and I now see obese children everywhere! Scary stuff. They front up with mom and dad at the junk food outlets and I see 6 year olds eating enough food to keep an adult going for two days.

    • Shirley Anderson profile imageAUTHOR

      Shirley Anderson 

      9 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Thanks, Fiona! I agree with you. Unfortunately, many parents are in the same boat, battling their weight and losing.

      There used to be a show on TV that I liked to watch, forget what it was called. An expert would go into a home to assess weight, health, activity level, eating habits, etc. then come up with a plan for changing things around. The whole family was involved and it seemed to work pretty well. I think it's easier to do it together than alone. Maybe that's the missing link in weight loss for children.

      Glad you came by, thank-you.

      You're right, LoveofNight. It is sad that food becomes a crutch,especially in childhood. It can start a lifelong problem.

      Thanks for visiting, Loveofnight!

    • Shirley Anderson profile imageAUTHOR

      Shirley Anderson 

      9 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Hi, Hypnodude! I think your mom was wise, too. She gave you a really good, healthy start in life.

      Thanks so much for the rating and Stumbling!

    • loveofnight profile image


      9 years ago from Baltimore, Maryland

      it's sad that so many people including kids self medicate with food.....nice detailed hub

    • fiona_33 profile image


      9 years ago from UK

      Really good hub Shirley. I wish parents would do more to take resposibility for their child's weight.

    • hypnodude profile image


      9 years ago from Italy

      My mother prevented me from eating junk foods and various sweets until I was at least ten years old. As a matter of fact when a child I usually had cheese or carrots as snacks. And since there were no video games and little TV after 8 pm than to play I had to go outside. Maybe I've been lucky, but I think my mum was pretty wise.

      Thanks for this very good hub which is rated up and stumbled. :)

    • Shirley Anderson profile imageAUTHOR

      Shirley Anderson 

      9 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Thanks, Shaz!

      Yes, food is one of those things that no one can do without. As far the addiction is concerned, it's every bit as serious as any other kind and every bit as challenging to kick in some instances, I imagine.

    • shazwellyn profile image


      9 years ago from Great Britain

      Obesity anonymous - what a great idea! Food is by far the greatest addiction and it isnt something you can just abstain from. Yes, it is no wonder our nations are getting bigger and, more so, our children.

      Good hub Shirley and thanks for sharing x

    • Shirley Anderson profile imageAUTHOR

      Shirley Anderson 

      9 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      I believe those are the stats for adults that I heard too, OCBill. Price is often the biggest factor for a lot of people. I guess chemically treated and processed food is a lot cheaper than natural, healthier stuff. That's really too bad.

      Yes, there are a lot of new activities these days. I'm not sure though that people who are already obese are going to try them, that would probably be dangerous. Those activities would be very helpful to prevent obesity, though. That's assuming of course, that the cause is overeating and not medical.

      I agree with you - the only exercise a lot of people get is when they lift food to their mouth or click their computer mouse. We've become so technologically focused! I'm guilty of having whole days like that. Luckily, my problem is just the opposite of obesity, I have trouble gaining weight.

      Thanks for dropping and contributing to the topic, OCBill.

    • Shirley Anderson profile imageAUTHOR

      Shirley Anderson 

      9 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Hello, Hello, Hello! :) When overfeeding is the culprit, you're right, it is so sad. Unfortunately, it usually leads to lifelong eating habits that take some effort to break.

      Thank-you for coming by and commenting.

    • ocbill profile image


      9 years ago from hopefully somewhere peaceful and nice

      I heard 1 in 3 American adults are obese as well. It's a shame. I'd attribute it to worsening food ingredients like HFCS, gluten, more sugar, more whie flour & bready dishes, the cheap grocery store price in comparison to healthy foods, and the many special low prices for fast foods. The activity level should be constant as more sports have developed over the past 20 years (boogie boarding, snow boarding, rock climbing, MMA, beach volleyball (more popular) so it comes down to the ingredients + the increased usage of pcs and macs.

    • Hello, hello, profile image

      Hello, hello, 

      9 years ago from London, UK

      To me to feed up a child like this is terrible. I am sure it is done right from baby age. Thank you for an informative hub.


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