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MAKE IT WORK: MY TOP RECOMMENDATIONS TO PARENTS
 
  1. Eat moderately, parents – kids will copy
  2. Plan and eat meals and snacks together, emphasizing variety
  3. Foster a preference for healthier alternatives – particular, fruits, vegetables and whole grains—by repeated tasting and enjoying by the whole family
  4. Talk, walk, and play together indoors and outdoors as an alternative to watching television
  5. Get enough sleep (children need at least nine hours)
 

Should a five-year old overweight child be on a diet?
No, a five-year old overweight child should eat like a five-year-old health-weight child, not like an eighteen-year-old basketball player. I do not endorse weight reduction children – except for extremely overweight seven- to eleven-year-olds and teens with health complications – but I do support weight maintenance, which stalls excess weight gain and allows overweight children to “grow into” their weight. Children don’t need diets; they need to eat for their age and be moderately active. Guidelines endorsed by the American Academy of Pediatrics say that, for overweight children ages two to seven, the goal is weight maintenance, not weight loss. If an overweight child maintains her weight as she grows, her weight and height will come back into line.
 
Why are kids still getting fatter?
After I find out what a child usually eats and we compare samples of the recommended amounts with his usual daily diet, I try to bring the family’s idea of normal amounts in line with reality. After some probing into what and how much he ate yesterday, or any day in general, I may find that this seven-tear-old overweight child has been eating like a seventeen-year old.
 
Fighting fat discrimination is tricky because in helping children form values, parents struggle with contradictory social messages about beauty versus social tolerance: “Size matters” and “Size doesn’t matter.” One way toward a solution is to read books for young adults from the fat fiction genre and discuss with children, fat and thin, their feelings toward characters who absorb and inflict the hurt of being fat – for instance, asking how they feel about this one and that, whether they know similar kids, and who would be a friend and why and why not. Asking and discussing how these stories touch children is a powerful solvent of discrimination. Another approach is to support good teachers and school texts that help kids discover and develop values of tolerance for diversity. Encouraging children of all sizes toward emotional health and a sense of self-worth smoothes and speeds their path to physical health.
 

Some might argue that the solution to the childhood obesity epidemic is not rocket science. It boils down to commonsense rules: “Go out and play.” “Eat your vegetables.” “Come home for dinner.” Yes, we should follow that old-fashioned advice, but the rise in overweight and obesity and the epidemic’s related costs impel us to do much more. Children and their families cannot alone combat the forces that propel the growing rate of childhood obesity; the problem—and the remedies—reach far beyond the home.
 
The plight of our overweight children appears everywhere today in the media and in scholarly journals. Testimony from many of those reports and studies appears in these pages and helps explain the epidemic’s scale and severity. Yet in the end, I hear the voices of those who prompted me to begin this project. They include the pediatrician who told me, “It’s so frustrating for everyone when a child doesn’t lode weigh,” and the mother who mentioned to me, quietly, “We talk—a friend and I: her daughter is heavy like my Sally – we talk about their weight to each other, but to no one else.”
 
I hope this book gives heart to those people and all who share their concerns. It registers and responds to your voices of frustration and desperation. Help is on the way.
 
 
 
 

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