Blog Post

Help your child – and your whole family – eat healthy and stay physically active. The healthy habits your child learns now can last a lifetime.

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

Help your child stay at a healthy weight by balancing what your child eats with physical activity. Two of the best ways to prevent your child from becoming overweight or obese are to:

  • Help your child eat healthier foods
  • Be more physically active as a family

You are a role model.

Parents are often the most important role models for children. When you choose to eat right and be physically active, your child will be more likely to make those choices, too.

Plus, being active and preparing healthy meals together are great ways to spend quality time with your family.

Why do I need to worry about my child’s weight?

Being overweight or obese as a child can lead to serious problems, like:

  • Heart disease
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Asthma
  • Sleep problems
  • Low self-esteem
  • Getting bullied

Being overweight as a child increases the risk of being overweight or obese as an adolescent and young adult. In other words, many kids don’t “grow out of” being overweight.

Today, about 2 in 3 adults – and about 1 in 3 children – are overweight or obese.

How do I know if my child is at a healthy weight?

Finding out your child’s body mass index (BMI) is the best way to learn if he or she is at a healthy weight.

Children grow at different rates, so it’s not always easy to tell if your child is at a healthy weight. Healthy weight is also defined differently for children and teens than it is for adults.

Help your child make healthy choices and learn healthy habits.

Ask the doctor to screen your child for obesity.

Your child’s doctor can calculate your child's BMI (body mass index) and say if your child is at a healthy weight.

Make healthy choices about food

Get more physical activity

Make sure your child gets at least 60 minutes (1 hour) of physical activity every day.

It doesn’t have to be 60 minutes all at once – it can be shorter activities that add up to 1 hour a day. Fun and simple activities, like playing tag, are great ways for kids to get moving.

Be sure your child is doing different types of activity, including:

  • Aerobic activities, like running, skipping, or dancing
  • Muscle-strengthening activities, like climbing playground equipment or trees
  • Bone-strengthening activities, like jumping rope or playing basketball

Limit screen time

Keep inactive (sitting down) screen time to 2 hours or less a day for kids age 2 and older. Screen time is time spent using computers or smart phones, watching TV, or playing video games.

Set clear rules about when and for how long your child can use the computer or smart phone, watch TV, and play video games.

Keep the TV out of your child’s room.

Eat healthy

You can be a role model for your child by eating healthy. Plus, a healthy diet can help protect you from heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and some types of cancer.

Shop, cook, and plan for healthy meals.

Let your child pick out healthy foods to try.

Give children age 2 and older water or fat-free or low-fat milk instead of soda or juice. Children under age 2 can drink whole milk.. let him stop eating when he's full instead of when the plate is clean.

Sit at the table and eat together as a family.

Plan healthy, affordable meals and enjoy them as a family. When families eat together, children eat more vegetables and fruits and less junk food. Let children help pick out healthy foods, prepare meals, and set the table.

Start the day with a good breakfast

Skipping breakfast can make kids hungry and tired, and it may lead them to snack on junk food later in the day. Give your kids whole-grain cereal with fat-free or low-fat milk and fruit instead of sugary cereal.

Make healthy snacks

Healthy snacks give kids important nutrients and help control hunger between meals.

Make sure your child gets enough sleep

If kids don’t get enough sleep, they are at higher risk of being overweight or obese.

Teens need 8 to 10 hours of sleep each night.

School-aged children need 9 to 12 hours of sleep each night.

Preschoolers need to sleep between 10 and 13 hours of sleep each day (including naps).

Toddlers need to sleep between 11 and 14 hours a day (including naps).

Babies need between 12 and 16 hours of sleep each day (including naps).

Set a bedtime schedule and remind your child when it’s time to get ready for bed.

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