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Weight-Loss Solutions for Children and Teens

Before we give you this list, we want you to realize up front that making some of these changes could be tough to do. In fact, you might balk at these suggestions because, if you implement them, you'll need to make personal changes, too. But the bottom line is that making the lifestyle changes will help your child lose weight and keep it off. So here goes.

Weighty Warning

On average, a child aged 8 to 18 is exposed to 8 hours and 33 minutes of media content every day. This comes mostly from television and radio. It translates into a whole lot of sitting or lying around. And a whole lot of inactivity. No wonder the ranks of overweight children have grown so much.


One family with two school-age sons limits playing video games to 15 minutes at a time. Their sons earn the right to play video games by doing household chores. Perhaps you can set up a similar system in your house.

  • Have set times for family eating and snacking. Turn off the TV when you eat meals. And no snacking when watching TV or working on the computer.

  • Have a set time for “lights out” at bedtime. As best you can, ensure that your child sleeps 7-9 hours a night. Lack of adequate sleep often triggers weight gain.

  • Require that your child be involved in some form of extracurricular learning activity—things like chess club, art classes, acting, piano, or many other choices.

  • Be sure that your child does some form of exercise or athletics daily. This means that you might need to shoot hoops with him or her after school and do recreational exercise alongside them, which will be good for everyone concerned.

  • Don't center fun times, recreation, and family life around food and eating.

  • Limit television viewing to one hour on school nights and two to three hours a day on the weekends.

  • Remove the television set from your child's bedroom if you think it's a factor in your child being overweight. Ditto the computer if it interferes with sleep and interest in outside activities.

  • Limit video games if you find your child is spending too much time immersed in playing, or you sense that he or she is addicted or compulsive about them.

  • Make sure that your child gets outside for sunshine every day. We all need the great outdoors.

With these changes in place, you'll be setting up a supportive environment for your child to lose weight and to develop a healthy lifestyle throughout his or her life.

Supplements for Overweight Children

Your children need vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, just as you do. Supply them with a high-quality children's formula, and when they reach their teens, give them an adult formula. This will meet most of their needs.

Make certain that your children eat enough fiber and roughage to ensure that they have regular bowel movements. (Just don't tell them why, or you'll get an “Oh, mom, that's gross!” reaction!) You can, if necessary, supplement their fiber intake with a plain psyllium or a psyllium-based product, but make sure that it doesn't contain artificial sweeteners such as aspartame or Splenda.

Taking dietary supplements ensures that your child receives all the necessary nutrients he or she needs to build and maintain a healthy body. But supplements alone don't offer a magic bullet for weight loss. Think of them as support for weight loss and overall health while supplementing a healthy diet.

Avoid giving your child supplements specifically formulated for weight loss. No research has been conducted on the safety of these for children. Some of the ingredients might actually interfere with normal growth processes.

One very important “supplement” for weight loss is sunshine. The body needs at least 15 minutes of sunshine a day for the hormones to function properly. And that's important for people of all ages. So join your child outside to catch some rays.


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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