Oakland County, Michigan/Health/Information/Overweight in Early Childhood

Overweight in Early Childhood

When is a child overweight?

Children are overweight when they weigh a great deal more than other kids of the same age, height, and gender. Your child's doctor or health care provider can measure your child's height and weight, telling you whether it is healthy.

What causes a child to be overweight?

  • Genetic factors: children with overweight parents or siblings are at higher risk
  • Not getting enough physical activity
  • Eating too much and/or drinking too many sugary drinks such as pop, fruit drinks, or juice
  • Certain medical conditions and medications

What health problems can an overweight child have?

  • High cholesterol and/or high blood pressure
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Bone and joint problems
  • Shortness of breath and trouble breathing during sleep
  • Higher risk for adult obesity
  • Poor self-esteem

How can I help my child learn healthy habits for life?

  • Babies and young children know when they are hungry and when they are full. Your child will let you know when it's time to end a feeding. Avoid overfeeding.
  • Don't put your child on a diet. Do offer a variety of healthy foods at meal and snack time. Let children eat until they are full.
  • Make healthy eating and activity part of your family's lifestyle. Do not treat the overweight child differently than the rest of the family.
  • Plan fun activities for the family to do together. This could be walking, biking, dancing to music, or playing frisbee.
  • Support your child's self-esteem.
  • All children should get at least an hour each day of active playtime.
  • Limit the time children watch TV to no more than one hour a day. This will help them move more.

What can I do to help my child have a healthy weight?

  • Allow eating only at planned meal and snack times, and eat at the table.
  • Turn off the TV and enjoy mealtime together.
  • Limit sweets, fried foods, soda, juice and other high-sugar drinks.
  • Teach your child to drink water when thirsty.