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How To Tackle Toddler Obesity

Obesity in children is becoming more common and those children who are obese are more likely to become overweight adults. Obesity is measured by comparing your child’s height to their weight. When your child eats, they will store excess food as fat. Over time, if your child does not burn the fat off, it will accumulate and they will become fat and then obese.

Obesity can cause numerous health issues and can impact your child's quality of life. They may become tired more quickly or be unable to keep up with other children their own age. They will also struggle to fit in clothes designed for their age group and may be a few clothes sizes above their peers.

There is no overnight cure or medicine for obesity so it is important to to make lifestyle changes. By becoming more active and changing the way the family eats, you will have a positive effect on your child's weight. Your toddler will learn from those around them so it is important the whole family:

  • moves more and becomes more active, e.g walking to the shops, playing in the park together or go on a bike ride.
  • spends less time sat still e.g sat watching TV, playing on the computer or tablet.
  • eat a diet that is healthy and limits high fat, unhealthy food such as crisps, chocolate and fizzy drinks. You should encourage your overweight child to eat more fresh fruit and vegetables and limit unhealthy foods.

Speak with your family and invite them to give ideas they feel will help everyone become healthier. Make sure any changes are followed by other carers such as childminders, grand parents etc as your toddler will become confused if they are being given different messages in different settings.

If you feel your overweight toddler will be overwhelmed by all the changes, why not start by making 3 simple changes. Once these have been implemented and the family have adjusted, try adding 3 more changes each time until you have reached your goals. Your tot will find it far easier to cope with the changes and will be more likely to respond positively.

The main thing you need to remember is to praise your toddler. Positive reinforcement will help your toddler, “look how fast you can run, thats really great”, “good choice in choosing oranges and apples for your snack”.

Give your toddler rewards which are healthy and interesting. Get them involved in drawing faces on their orange before you peel it, arrange fruit and veg in interesting shapes and faces, get lots of different colours to make it look more exciting. Why not try making your own home version of your child's favourites e.g. pizza. By making home made versions of food, you can control what goes in them and can limit the amount of fat, salt etc in their food. Encourage your toddler to help you spread the sauce on the pizza base and sprinkle the cheese and their favourite toppings on it. By encouraging your toddler to get involved, they will be far more interested in eating it. Have a look at this link for top tips to get your toddler to eat healthy food.

Should you want any further help or advice, please feel free to email me.