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Parents, Don’t Put Overweight Kids On Strict Diet

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Dear Dr. Levister: My daughter is a slave to the super sized craze being served up across America. I fear her unhealthy habits are contributing to my grandchildren’s obesity. We disagree over whether they should put them on a restrictive diet? G.W.

Dear G.W.: Children should never be placed on a restrictive diet to lose weight, unless a doctor supervises one for medical reasons.

Limiting what children eat may be harmful to their health and interfere with their growth and development.

To promote proper growth and development and prevent overweight, parents should incorporate a healthy lifestyle of exercise and proper nutrition.

If you think that your grandchildren are overweight, it is important to talk with their doctor. A doctor is the best person to determine whether a child has a weight problem.

Physicians will measure a child's weight and height to determine if the child's weight is within a healthy range. A physician will also consider the child's age and growth patterns to determine whether he or she is overweight.

Teaching healthy eating practices early will help children approach eating with the right attitude -- that food should be enjoyed and is necessary for growth, development, and energy to keep the body running.

The best way to begin is to learn more about children's nutritional needs. Read or talk with a health professional and then offer some healthy options, allowing your children to choose “within healthy parameters” what and how much they eat.

Although children have fewer weight-related health problems than adults, overweight children are at high risk of disease and musculoskeletal problems including diabetes and foot aliments and becoming overweight adolescents and adults. Overweight adults are at risk for a number of health problems, including heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, stroke, and some forms of cancer.

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