Monday, May 28, 2007

Maintaining a healthy weight

In most cases, experts recommend that overweight children should not be encouraged to actually lose weight. Instead they should be encouraged to maintain their weight, so that they gradually "grow into it" as they get taller.

Children should never be put on a weight loss diet without medical advice as this can affect their growth. Unregulated dieting - particularly in teenage girls - is thought to lead to the development of eating disorders. For more information, see the separate BUPA health factsheets, Anorexia nervosa and Bulimia nervosa.

There isn't much evidence for the best ways to treat weight problems in children, but research indicates that focusing on making long-term improvements to diet and increasing physical activity may be the effective solution.

Helping children to achieve and maintain a healthy weight involves a threefold approach that encourages them to:

eat a healthy, well-balanced diet
make changes to eating habits
increase physical activity - in 2004 the Chief Medical Officer recommended at least 60 minutes of at least moderate physical activity a day for children
The good news is that it is probably easier to change a child's eating and exercise habits than it is to change an adult's.


Maintaining a healthy weight



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