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Weight-Loss Solutions for Children and Teens

Weighty Warning

If you think your child is a little bit pudgy, don't panic. Don't pull out the diet books and clear out the refrigerator. Children grow in leaps and spurts. They can be a bit pudgy for a couple of months and then grow two or three inches within a half year. Then they'll be in the normal range of weight. Take a calmer and more scientific approach. Your emotions will benefit, and so will theirs.

You're looking for solutions that will help your child. Your first impulse could be to restrict food and regulate eating. Don't do this at first. Your child could be overweight for other reasons that are related to health and his or her body.

Be sure that you understand the full picture of your child's situation before you take any action. Otherwise, you can unknowingly contribute to your child developing a “fat mentality” for no reason.

Check out the following factors first when your child is overweight: allergies, celiac disease, drugs (prescription and illegal), type 2 diabetes, and genetics. Each will be described in the sections that follow.


Food allergies as well as food sensitivities can cause weight gain. Yes, it's possible to have no other symptoms. You can't count on seeing runny noses or sneezes with some food sensitivities. Instead, a person's body perceives the food as a poison and limits digestion of nutrients, thus causing the body to store fat.

The most common foods that cause allergies and sensitivities are wheat, dairy, and soy. Second to those are aspartame and other artificial sweeteners. An allergic reaction to sugar is possible, too.

One easy way to determine whether your child is sensitive to a food is to use an elimination diet. For one week, have your child not eat any wheat. If they lose weight in that week, wheat could be the problem. Do the same the next week for dairy, and then for soy and then sugar.

If you find a food culprit, eliminate it from his or her diet. Of course, that's easier said than done. But limiting allergenic foods is definitely easier than spending many futile years dieting with no long-term results.

You can find excellent books and cookbooks on living a wheat-free, dairy-free, or soy-free life.

Another choice is to take your child to an allergist for testing to determine if your child has allergies or food sensitivities and for food and eating recommendations.

Celiac Disease

Celiac disease is a chronic digestive disorder caused by an inherited intolerance to gluten. Symptoms can be irritable bowel syndrome, diarrhea, and weight gain or loss.

As many as 1 out of 500 people in the United States have celiac disease. A cure for the condition doesn't exist, but it can be solved by eliminating gluten-containing foods from the diet. The foods that contain gluten are wheat, oats, seminola, spelt, rye, barley, triticale, and kamut.

If you suspect that your child can't tolerate gluten, have him or her tested by an allergist to confirm or dispel your suspicions. The allergist can give you further resources for helping your child make healthy and allergy-free food choices.

Drugs—Prescription and Illegal


As you help clear up your child's health conditions, you also help your child to release stored excess body fat and to live a well-balanced life.

Some prescription medications can cause weight gain and also stall or thwart weight loss. Steroid-based medications such as prednisone and those used in asthma inhalers are the worst. So are some anti-seizure medications. If your child is on one of these, ask the doctor whether other medications available won't cause weight gain.

Abuse of some prescription medications can cause weight gain. These are usually pain killers or anti-anxiety drugs.

Illegal drugs are never a fun topic, but use of recreational drugs can cause weight gain or loss. The most notable is marijuana, but also others that soothe and relax. Having a post-marijuana attack of the “munchies” is an obvious way to gain weight.

If you suspect your child is using drugs recreationally, seek counseling to learn how to effectively talk with your child. Cessation of the drug use will be the big gain, but your child may be able to lose some excess weight, too.


Excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to Healthy Weight Loss © 2005 by Lucy Beale and Sandy G. Couvillon. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

To order this book visit the Idiot's Guide web site or call 1-800-253-6476.


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