Expert Iconexpert advice MORE

Children and Diets

Pediatrics Expert Advice from Henry Bernstein, M.D.

Q: My child loves to eat. I was overweight as a child and now am as an adult. I want to help him control his weight now. Should he be on a diet?

A: It's important to speak with your son's doctor to find out where he falls above a healthy weight for his height and age. In general, only if your child were very overweight would a weight loss program be suggested, and only under the supervision of your doctor.

In order for your son to maintain a healthy weight, creating healthy eating habits and increasing his level of physical activity are necessary. The emphasis should be on feeling healthy and strong -- not on weight. I discussed exercise in an earlier answer, so let us focus now on proper eating.

I suggest taking a family approach to eating healthy, so your child does not feel isolated as the one with a problem. Eliminate unhealthy food from your home rather than keeping it from him alone. Keep healthy snacks around the house and make them easily accessible to him. For example, keep cut vegetables in the refrigerator and fruit on the table for quick and easy snacking. Most importantly, set a good example. Children develop their eating habits from the people around them -- if they see you eating healthy, they will also be inclined to do so.

Feel free to consult with your child's doctor or registered dietician to help change your son's eating habits. Overall, do not discuss weight unless your child brings it up. The focus should be on feeling healthy and being strong! By praising his strengths, skills, and efforts, your son will always continue to feel good about himself.

Hank Bernstein
Children's Hospital

More on: Expert Advice

Henry Bernstein, M.D., is currently the associate chief of the Division of General Pediatrics and director of Primary Care at Children's Hospital, Boston. He also has an academic appointment at Harvard Medical School.

Please note: This "Expert Advice" area of FamilyEducation.com should be used for general information purposes only. Advice given here is not intended to provide a basis for action in particular circumstances without consideration by a competent professional. Before using this Expert Advice area, please review our General and Medical Disclaimers.

stay connected

Sign up for our free email newsletters and receive the latest advice and information on all things parenting.

Enter your email address to sign up or manage your account.

Facebook icon Twitter icon Follow Us on Pinterest

editor’s picks


Healthy Smile Checklist for Kids
Have better dental check-ups with this free printable checklist that helps keep your child flossing, brushing, and smiling! Brought to you by Philips Sonicare.

Kindergarten Readiness App
It's kindergarten registration time! Use this interactive kindergarten readiness checklist, complete with fun games and activities, to practice the essential skills your child needs for this next big step. Download the Kindergarten Readiness app today!

8 Easter Egg Decorating Ideas
Need some fun ideas for decorating Easter eggs with the kids? Look no further for colorful and cool designs!

7 Ways to Curb Kids' Exposure to Violence
American children are exposed to violence more often than you might think. Learn how to limit your child's exposure to violence and manage the mental health and behavioral effects it can cause.