Treating obesity in children and adolescents differs from treatment in adults. Involving the family in a child’s weight management program is a key element to treatment. As a support system, family is integral in ensuring weight management goals are met.
It is important to talk with your physician about options for treating childhood obesity. The various treatments of obesity in children and adolescents include:
- Diet therapy
- Physical activity
- Behavior modification
When treating a child or adolescent affected by obesity, it is often recommended that they have a consultation with a nutritionist that specializes in children’s needs. Nutritionists can best help children understand healthy eating habits and how to implement them in their long-term diet.
In some cases, nutritionists do not always recommend restricting caloric intake for children. Education on how to read food labels, cut back on portions, understand the food pyramid and eat smaller bites at a smaller pace is generally the information given to change a child’s eating habits.
Another form of treatment of obesity in children is increasing physical activity. Physical activity is an important long-term ingredient for children, as studies indicate that inactivity in childhood has been linked to a sedentary adult lifestyle.
Increasing physical activity can decrease, or at least slow the increase, in fatty tissues in children affected by obesity. The US Surgeon General recommends that children get at least 60 minutes of physical activity each day. Individualized programs are available and possible for those children or adolescents that are not able to meet minimum expectations.
Lifestyles and behaviors are established at a young age. It is important for parents and children to remain educated and focused on making long-term healthy lifestyle choices.
There are several ways that children and adolescents can modify their behavior for healthier outcomes, such as: changing eating habits, increasing physical activity, becoming educated about the body and how to nourish it appropriately, engaging in a support group or extracurricular activity and setting realistic weight management goals.