How do I help my daughter control her weight?

Encourage healthy eating. /Net.

Dear Doctor,
My child is a bit too chubby for her age. She is only four but looks older because of her weight, obese actually, though people say it is just baby fat. She has a great appetite and I try to give her healthy food but I’m worried. How can I get the weight to go down?

Dear Maria,

Childhood obesity is becoming a cause for concern the world over. Children usually do not suffer from any immediate problem due to being overweight, except becoming a bit lethargic. However, the childhood obesity increases the risk of chronic diseases like diabetes, hypertension and heart-related problems later in adult life.


Small children become obese for a variety of reasons. Genetic factors play a part in children becoming overweight or obese. If one or more parents, or an elder sibling is obese, chances of this child becoming obese are high.


A high fatty diet is yet another reason for children becoming obese. The risk is high with the junk, ready-to-eat fast food and snacks like potato chips. Other foods which are commonly given to children and do increase weight are cakes, chocolates, and etcetera.


A high fatty diet combined with lack of physical exercise increases the risk for obesity in children. Many children are hooked to gadgets from nursery or kindergarten level, presently. They do not go out and play physically. Hence, the calories consumed are not burnt, resulting in increase of weight.

Sometimes, a child may be obese due to an underlying medical condition like uncontrolled diabetes or hypothyroidism.

Most of the time, it is the habits of adults of the family which are copied by children. The entire family should change its habits, if they desire an obese child to lose weight. The family should sit together and eat healthy, non-fatty meals. Children should be encouraged to have more fruits and healthy snacks. The family should cut down time of watching TV or being hooked to the internet.

Physical activity like running, long walks, swimming, and etcetera, can be carried out by the whole family. This would motivate children to become more active physically.

It is also very important to not to criticise children for being overweight. They should be counselled lovingly and should feel assured that the family supports them. They should also be taught to not feel depressed if mocked by other children, but make efforts to solve the problem.

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