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Healthy You

Are You Worried About Your Child’s Weight?

Wednesday, March 01, 2023 12:04 PM

By Julie Holland, MD
NorthShore University HealthSystem
Vice President, Pediatric Primary Care Chicagoland Children’s Health Alliance

One of the things I worry most about as a pediatrician is childhood obesity. Over the past few years, the pandemic has fueled an already concerning issue.

I see children and teens in my practice whose parents ask, "Is my child overweight?"

Joy and happiness being outdoor with friends and siblingsSometimes parents are perplexed as to what to do. Should I talk to my teen about it? Should I more carefully monitor and correct eating habits? Could doing so damage their self-esteem? Or can I ignore the extra pounds and hope he or she "outgrows it?"

My first advice to parents is to take a moment and honestly assess their family's lifestyle. How might that lifestyle be impacting your child's weight? I encourage them to consider these questions:

  • Does our family eat healthy? Do we regularly eat nutritious foods, like fruits and vegetables?
  • Does our family regularly exercise? Do we have a routine that includes walking, biking or other physical activity?
  • Does our family have nutritious foods in the pantry for snacking? Do we stay away from buying processed foods and those loaded with sugar?
  • Does our family choose healthy options when eating out? Do we avoid fast food, even when it seems more convenient?
  • Does our family adhere to the same rules for all members? Do we, as parents, role model good eating habits for our children?

The answers to these questions can help your family focus on lasting change.

In my years as a pediatrician, I can tell you this kind of change can make a huge difference maybe not in all kids, but certainly in many. Some young people may need additional support and interventions. But exercise and diet matter.

While food issues can be very complicated, eating healthy and exercising is a great start toward helping your child or teen manage their weight.

By adopting a healthy lifestyle as a family, you are teaching your children the skills needed to maintain that lifestyle into adulthood. Consider it a long-term investment and just one more way you are keeping them healthy and safe.

Still have questions? Talk to your pediatrician with NorthShore’s Division of Pediatrics or call 847.570.5020 to find one.

The Chicagoland Children's Health Alliance is a partnership between Advocate Children's Hospital, NorthShore University HealthSystem and University of Chicago Medicine Comer Children's Hospital.