Help for weight issues with children

I'm concerned about my 10 year old son. I've no idea what his weight is. He's a tall kid - wearing age 12-13 clothes. Well "covered" but has a very big tummy. He is reasonably active but he does love his grub. He is probably the biggest one in his class at present (a slim group who do seem to buck the national trend!).

I've always felt that a child should be able to eat what they like if they are active but, seeing him over the last few days on holiday I'm concerned.

We're not really a "fat family". I'm current about bmi 27 but fit and active so carry it ok. I put on a stone over winter which I an trying to tackle now. My husband is very slim and my 13 year old daughter is a healthy size 8.

So what have others done? I mentioned to him that I was going to try to lose weight after Easter and he was very keen to join in ( did keep it very light touch as don't want to give him a complex). The thing is that , although he doesn't say anything I know kids do say things o him at school so I would like to address this before secondary school draws near.

Any suggestions from others who've experienced this?

10 Replies

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  • Keep him away from sugar as much as possible. Check sugar content to everything you buy. You will be surprised. Perhaps do it slowly as he is young. Stop all soft drinks as a start. They are full of sugar and addictive. He is developing so you have to make sure he has everything needed to grow healthy so perhaps check discretely how many calories he is eating a day? I still think sugar is the culprit.

  • Will do. Actually we've been away for easter so I have managed to control the goodies. He's not so keen on choc - but does love cakes etc.

  • We're in almost identical situation with our Son at the moment, in fact you've described our own Son down to the wire. He is also 10, tall, well covered, in age 12-13 clothes and getting a big Tummy. He also loves his food.

    Given my own personal history with weight I am scared witless that he is going to end up in the same situation. Our problems started I think when he was young, as a Baby he was BF until 3 and ate wholesome home cooked/prepared Baby meals, then we had this period where he refused to eat anything, common I know but still very scary and frustrating at the time and it seemed to last an age, so it was relief when he finally started eating more things, all be slowly, and we were happy to see him eat anything, even something junky! In hindsight we should not have encouraged this but we did as we were just elated he was eating.

    Carbohydrate (Sugar) restriction does work well and we have made progress ourselves in the past being proactive with this, unfortunately something like Easter does not help, though this year I was strict though and limited the amount of eggs that came into the house.

    I am also mindful that at the moment we have a lot of control over what he eats, he would never help himself to any food without asking for example but I fear it won't be too long into the future before he reaches an age where this won't be so and he'll also be making food choices outside the home, independent of us, at Senior School for example.

    You have to also be aware that the nutritional needs of children is very different to that of an adult, they need lots of fats and quality protein. I've seen friends in the past attempt to put their children on very restrictive adult type diets, low fat etc and that often fails, for one the child hates the type of food they are being given and secondly they are not getting the necessary nutrition, which means they are driven to seek out supplementary food at a given chance.

    In an ideal world I would not give anyone artificially sweetened food however I have to confess to find things like the pots of diet jelly (10 cals) to be a godsend in satisfying him as a snack, to tide him over to meal times.

    For breakfast I've got him on real porridge (Large Flakes), it took a while to wean him off things like Mini Weetabix with Chocolate chips and I started off with letting him have a little sugar on his porridge, then replaced that with a small spoon of Jam and now he has it with just milk, no added sugar.

    I've found he likes things like Omelettes and he'll have that for dinner with Bacon and Cheese in it, even a little wilted spinach (with some arm twisting) but with the absence of Carbs like potato etc.

    I think one of the biggest things is to not let them get too hungry so that they overeat, portion control is important as with any diet (smaller plates etc).

    We are very much "works in progress" still but I'll share any other thoughts/ideas I have as they pop up.

    Good Luck.

  • Thanks for the full response Olsbean. I can totally understand the concerns you had when he was younger.

    My two children couldn't be more different. My daughter is quite fussy about what she eats whereas my son Has always been open to new foods.

    I'm going to play the long(ish) game and just try to get him eating less treats (restrict to weekend) and, now lighter evenings are here get him out more moving about.

  • LOL the similarities are staggering, my (step) daughter, so my sons half sister is the same, not an ounce of fat on her, in fact she had to be prescribed build up type of milk shake in order for her to gain enough weight to start her periods and she won't eat what she calls mixed up food.

    I think you're definitely approaching it correctly with the long game, we're doing the same, hoping we can restrict any gain outward, so when he grows upward he'll slim rather than trying to force any hard weight loss.

    Good Luck.

  • Dont think of it as restricting 'treats' more on the lines of eliminating the white grains of death as my household calls sugar. The fact that he likes new food is great.

    I have started to substitute either all or part of mash potato with cauliflower that has been cooked and then put through the food processor, sometimes with a tablespoon of cream cheese, haugh calorie saving. Try getting him involved in cooking as well.

    For a cake try the hairy bikers carrot cake.

    If you make your own biscuits then its very obvious how much sugar and fat goes into them.

    You could have a house rule that all crisps, biscuit and cake have to be homemade and that the children have to help make them, that should help cut down the impulse buying and mean there is an obvious connection between the food and its contents.

    I would sell this to the family as an exercise on being more food aware about what goes into your bodies rather than a ruse to deprive them of fat, sugar and processed snacks.

    I agree with the others that portion control and eliminating snacking are a big step forward. If he was younger I would suggest as a snack using a round apple corer on an apple and then cutting the apple into rings small children love them and it means that all the apple gets eaten and one apple can be shared.

    What ever the treat or snack don't eat it out of a packet, put it into a bowl or plate and sit at the table not in front of the tv/computer.

    I also keep sugar free jelly in the fridge in pretty glass dishes, a little fruit in the bottom and a teaspoon of yogurt on top makes it more luxurious looking.

    If he isn't very active try doing the couch to 5k together especially if you can get a few of his friends interested. I would find out if there is a fun run and sell it to them as a charity adventure rather than a get fit excercise.

    Good luck, its always a worry with children, their bodies need so much in order to grow.

    You don't want to give them a complex but you also want them to be happy.

  • Luckily, although not gifted athletically he's very keen. Does parkrun on a Saturday or helps out at it. Even dances with school group. Going to set him some summer challenges.

  • I agree. Don't substitute skimmed milk for whole milk for him. It achieves little and he needs the essentials - it's adults that have stopped growing. there are many better ways of reducing calories given here so I wont repeat them. And I'm glad he's active, there's a small victory straight away. Good luck.

  • I havent experienced it myself but on biggest loser season 14 they had 3 kids tackle their health at home and it was so inspiring they obviously didnt focus on the weight just the staying active and food habits. Maybe look on youtube may give you some pointers, but personally i would maybe start serving smaller portions with more veg and maybe as nhs2015 says see what snacks he is eating and gradually change them into healthier options and get him involved in something active with the whole family maybe, like a walk along the river then a picnic, or a kick about at the local park. All the best

  • An update on my Son and his weight. He's done really well, after peaking at nearly 50Kg before the Summer, he has lost 6Kg bringing him almost within the normal centile for his height (he's tall).

    He looks a million times better, has more energy and is generally much happier. He's really took ownership of the issue and is making good choices and decisions on what to eat each day. It's still early days as he has only been doing for about 10 weeks now but I am hoping with support that he'll stick at it, ideally he could do with losing a couple more Kilos but as he is still growing upwards things may well even themselves out with time.

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