How to Help Your Child Achieve and Maintain a Healthy Weight
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Mother and daughter got motivated by joining Weight Watchers together near the end of Allison's seventh-grade year. With Weight Watchers, a weight-loss plan based on portion control and a healthy-eating lifestyle, Allison lost 11 pounds.
By having her mother attend meetings with her, the entire family was able to improve their eating and exercise habits, which is often crucial to an overweight child's success.
"If you treat a child in a sensitive manner, then you will decrease the likelihood of disordered eating in the future," Dr. Dolgoff says. "There's also a commonly held belief that thin people don't have to make any changes, but parents can admit that they have made mistakes when they're preparing meals or by not taking care of their own health."
As summer approached, Allison Young asked if she could go to diet camp. Mother and daughter did research and viewed videos on different camps. They settled on Camp Pennbrook, located in Pennsylvania. The all-girls camp gave Allison the best opportunity to succeed.
Dr. Dolgoff recommends that parents choose camps that have both pediatricians and registered dietitians on staff to provide comprehensive care. In general, she says children will have to focus primarily on their diet while following the American Academy of Pediatrics' exercise guidelines, which include exercising for an hour a day.
By summer's end, Allison Young had lost 15 pounds and her diet had changed dramatically. Instead of frozen meals, she chose fresh fruits and vegetables as well as chicken and fish.
When eighth grade began, mother and daughter knew that their hard work was worth it. "Her first day of eighth grade, every single person - students and teachers - came over to her to tell her how great she looked," Renee Young recalls. "She knew things were different and started feeling better when we went shopping for school clothes."
Since beginning Weight Watchers and attending diet camp twice, Allison Young has lost 59 pounds. Now a college student, she is five feet, six inches tall and weighs a healthy 125 pounds. And, although she occasionally has a late-night dinner of chicken wings and fries, the extra weight hasn't come back.
Also see: Healthy Weight Loss Checklist for Kids