How to Help Your Overweight or Obese Child

You want to help your chubby child lose weight. You should know that mistakes parents make can result in your plump child turning into a childhood obesity statistic.

At Weight Watchers I got all the answers to the weight management questions I never even knew I should be asking!

The biggest mistake is putting that child on a diet!

I’m not trying to scare you, or suggest you don’t take any action. I want to help you to do the things that are most likely to help.

To get started take a look at yourself. Are you overweight? As the most influential person in your child’s life you need to be a role model. What kind of eating and exercising habits are you teaching your child by watching what you’re doing?

It’s not just what you do that influences your child. It’s what you say and think too. Talking about how fat and disgusting you think you are tells an overweight child you think the same of him or her.

Negative self-talk and telling yourself how "fat and disgusting you are," isn't the positive motivator you think it should be. It doesn't inspire you to make healthy behavioral changes and it won't help your child avoid weight gain.

Talking about how “fat and disgusting you are,” isn’t the positive motivator you think it should be. It doesn’t inspire you to make healthy behavioral changes and it surely won’t help your child avoid weight gain.

Making comments about how guilty you feel about eating certain foods, or how addictive some foods seem to be for you, or how bad the food you’re eating is for you, negatively affects your child’s relationship with food.

Maybe you’re not overweight at all. Maybe you’re the picture of fitness. Maybe you’re an absolute fiend about eating healthfully and being physically active. Maybe you’re an excellent role model and you’re baffled and frustrated by your child’s apparent refusal to do as you say and do.

Group support can help you to modify your behavior so that you support your weight-related goals instead of undermining them!

Heavy-handed control over your child’s food may backfire. Instead of teaching healthy eating habits your child becomes a closet eater with no self control when you’re not around to police food.

Take a closer look at what you do. Yes, you eat well and stay active but do you also badger or nag your child to do as you do? If you are too controlling or heavy-handed when it comes to what your child eats you might be surprised to learn that when that child is out of your sight, he has absolutely no self control. Some kids turn to closet eating in retaliation. That means your good example becomes something your child won’t mimic, but rather be determined to reject.


These recommendations are to be observed by every member of the family. Helping an overweight child takes a family approach, not an individual approach.
1) No fat talk.???????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????

No talking about how fat you are, your child is, or how fat anybody else may be. Just stop talking about weight.

2) Food is food.dreamstime_l_35862580

It’s nourishment, fuel for bodies, and a source of pleasure and satisfaction. It’s not sinful, decadent, addictive, or even healthy. Moral character is not a matter of food choices. Stop labeling food and instead educate your child. Take your child grocery shopping. Explain nutrients we get from fruits and vegetables. Teach your child about saturated fat sources and why it’s important to limit them. Help your child understand the roles protein and carbohydrates play in a balanced diet. Reinforce that treats are treats. They are okay in small amounts and should be enjoyed and not eaten in haste and guilt. Allow your child to be involved in both purchases and preparation of food for the family.

3) Get moving.
You won't be pushing him out of bed to go to the gym, but you can help him burn calories by engaging the family in some outdoor fun!

Fun! Not exercise!

Moving burns calories and can be a fun way for families to bond. Finding active forms of entertainment is a great way to help children (overweight or not) find an activity about which they become passionate. That can lead to a healthy identity. Instead of a child thinking himself to be “the fat kid” he might see himself as a skier, or skater, or baller, or whatever his favorite activity may be. A child’s self-identity drives that child’s behavior. In other words they behave in a manner consistent to who they think they “are.”

4) Manage Stress???????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????

Stress management is important for every member of the family. When parents are stressed children feel and respond negatively. Children can experience stress too and if they don’t have healthy coping skills, they respond in negative ways just as adults. Overeating is the most common negative response to stress. Stress management techniques for children reinforces behaviors that support healthy weight.




Jackie Conn

About Jackie Conn

Jackie Conn is married and has four grown daughters and four grandchildren. She is a Weight Watchers success story. She's a weight loss expert with 25 years of experience guiding women and men to their weight-related goals. Her articles on weight management have been published in health, family and women's magazines. She has been a regular guest on Channel 5 WABI news, FOX network morning program Good Day Maine and 207 on WCSH.