USDA: Helping your Overweight Child

How can you show your best efforts to help prevent childhood obesity in your family or help your overweight child bring his weight into a healthy range? To answer this question, the USDA and the Weight-control Information Network (WIN) have provided some palatable tips.

The three ideas you want to keep in mind to combat obesity are healthy eating, exercise, and social support.

Healthful Eating

To encourage healthful eating, it is important that you set good examples for your child. Here are some tips:

  1. Buy healthful foods. Feed your child as many whole (unprocessed) foods as possible.  Thirty five to forty percent of your child’s daily food intake should be fruits and vegetables. Involve your child in the selection process of the fruits and vegetables you buy and serve - this increases the likelihood of your child eating them!
  2. Eat a balanced breakfast. Make sure your child eats a balanced breakfast to give more energy for daily activities and prevent hunger cravings that often lead to lack of focus in school and junk food indulgence.
  3. Make smart beverage choices. Substitute high-calorie drinks, such as sodas, for 100% fruit juice or better yet, water! 


Exercise is a great way to keep your child happy and healthy. Try these tips:

  1. Encourage your child to start an exercise activity. By joining a sports team, dance class, etc. your child can have fun while staying healthy. Avoid forcing your child to do something he does not like. Instead, let him try a few activities and pick his favorite.
  2. Be a good role model. If your child sees you and the rest of your family having fun exercising, she will want to join in the fun. Family activities are great. Try riding bikes, strolling through the neighborhood or playing catch in the park, so you can all have fun together!
  3. Have your child exercise one hour each day.  This can be done in small intervals, such as walking the dog for 15-minutes or cleaning his room for 20-minutes.
  4. Discourage inactivity. Limit TV and do not let your child snack while watching TV – this can lead to mindless eating.

Social Support

While healthy eating and exercise are great, showing your love and support while encouraging healthy habits can be empowering to your child.

  1. Don’t forget to tell your child you love him. With tight schedules and providing for daily family needs it can be easy to forget the little things.  By expressing your love and support daily your child will be more likely to follow your healthy examples.
  2. Accept your child’s weight. If you suspect your child is overweight, contact your healthcare provider who will be able to assess your child’s weight and dietary needs.
  3. If your child is overweight, potentially consider a weight-control program. This might be an especially good option if your child is having emotional difficulties associated with weight. Make sure to consult your health professional before starting any weight-control programs.

As a little reminder, think HEALTH:

Healthy eating



Love and support

Time for fruits and veggies

Have breakfast


For more tips on combating childhood obesity, visit the USDA online. 



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