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Healthy weight for children

Written by Aetna By Aetna

What is childhood obesity?

Childhood obesity is a serious issue. It can lead to many problems that get worse as your child gets older. Overweight children have a higher risk of having:

  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Bone and joint problems
  • High blood pressure and cholesterol
  • Sleep disorders

Childhood obesity affects more than just your child’s health. It affects how they behave. Maybe they’re afraid to play outside because they think they’ll get made fun of. Maybe they don’t want to be the slowest person in the game. Playing outside is a great way to make new friends, discover new passions and build confidence. Carrying a little extra weight around can stop your child from trying out for the team they want to play for. Or keep them from going hiking with their friends.

If you think that your child is overweight, you can calculate their body mass index (BMI) to find out.

What can I do if my child is obese?

There are plenty of ways to manage your child’s weight. Taking your child to their annual checkup is a good start. A primary care physician (PCP) will notice any changes in your child’s growth. Then, they may suggest ways to manage or lose extra weight, like eating healthy and staying active.

What is a healthy diet?

A healthy diet can help your child lose weight and build strong muscles and bones. It’s important to know how many calories your child needs and what types of foods are best for their age. It’s always good to eat:

  • Fruits and vegetables (five servings a day)
  • Lean meats, nuts and eggs
  • Whole-grain breads and cereals 
  • Foods that are broiled, grilled or steamed, instead of fried
  • Very little fast food and junk food

Be active

Your child should get at least one hour of exercise or physical activity every day. This helps reduce fat and cut down on obesity. Getting active for an hour a day is easy. It’s as simple as:

  • Playing a sport
  • Playing with friends
  • Walking your dog
  • Swimming
  • Riding a bike
  • Jumping rope
  • Hiking
  • Going for a jog

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